Support for Doulas During Covid- 19
At ProDoula the health and well-being of our fellow birth professionals, their families, their clients and their businesses are our top priorities.
As a result, we are attuned to the uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that many of you are experiencing. We know that worrying and waiting can increase that anxiety and can almost become paralyzing. For that reason, we want to help enable your empowerment by shifting your focus to ways that you can take action during this time.
We want to encourage you to be responsive vs. reactive. This will allow you to provide more deliberate, effective support to your clients. If you wait for them to contact you right now, you will be reactive and may not have a plan in place for what to say or do. Instead, reach out to your clients now with a responsive plan to accommodate them within the realm of what is possible in your area. You’ve been hired to instill strength and reduce fear for them, and now is a time that they may truly need it.
Now is NOT the time for panic. As doulas, we are an effective measure of calm for the families that we serve during times of uncertainty and change. This is one of those times. Remain the calm voice and anchor for your family, your clients and your community. We will get through this.
First and foremost, be safe.
Continue to follow safe hygiene practices and model them for clients. More importantly, protect yourself from anxiety and fear. Fear and anxiety can be debilitating. Seek to find opportunities to see the bright side in social distancing with your families. Remind yourself that this is temporary. Reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed and increasingly anxious. Social distancing is intended to slow things down. More importantly, to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Second, the time for creativity is now. Be proactive with your current clients.
Consider ways in which you can still provide support, especially when your physical in-person presence may not be possible. Creating options for packages with an emphasis on educational and emotional support that can be offered to your current clients. These packages are especially important to those who are located in areas where additional support people will not be permitted into the birth room.
Contact your local hospitals DAILY by phone regarding policy changes. Now is not the time for lengthy letter writing as the inboxes of hospital administrators are overflowing with crisis information and details. These letters will not be read now and will not have the impact intended. Instead, encourage your clients to call and express their wishes. Patients are customers and hospitals are businesses. Businesses work to meet customer demands. 10+ customers calling each day and saying, “I want my doula AND my partner at my birth.” will have far more impact toward leniency than any other strategy right now.
Think about the networking you have been doing and the relationships you’ve been developing with providers and hospital staff. Now is the time to continue building on those foundations. Be a calm voice of reason and explain that you want real-time details on their current policies. Advise them that this will enable you to be concise and accurate when sharing details with clients and your community. Let them know you will be calling daily, as you understand that these policies may change from day to day.
Consider ways in which you can collaborate with colleagues. Stress levels are high, client scenarios are uncertain, the health of your businesses are of great concern, and children are home from school for what may be an undetermined amount of time. Lean in. Rely on one another for support. And as always prioritize your mental health and physical well-being.
Third, be flexible.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to be flexible on some of the aspects of your business contracts. With this in mind, examine your current contracts. Identify areas where you are protected and where you may want to consider offering a partial refund. How a business responds to difficult situations sets them up for what comes next. Be reasonable and understanding and find solutions that benefit both your business and your clients.
Continue to be a leader in your community – be a voice of reason, providing positive reassurance. Calm the panic with a clear voice, appropriate resources, and evidence-based education. Let’s take this opportunity to move forward with creative and flexible planning, forward-thinking and perhaps enjoy the slower pace for a bit, as this is a temporary moment in time that will pass before we know it.
And finally, rally for change!
Doulas MUST collaborate with hospitals by creating a point of accountability for themselves. The issues that doulas and their clients are facing right now during the Covid- 19 situation makes this abundantly clear.
Several years ago a conversation regarding “Hospital Credentialing” for doulas began. And although ProDoula was advocating strongly for these policies, it was met with tremendous pushback by much of the doula community. Had these policies been implemented then would it have made a difference right now? We believe whole-heartedly that it would.
For that reason, the steadfast work of making this a reality begins Monday morning, March 16, 2020. ProDoula will begin developing a nation wide campaign that will enable doulas to register with hospitals in order to serve clients in each facility. We will be advocating strongly for the implementation of these policies for a variety of reasons.
- Clients must NEVER have to choose between their loved ones and their doulas ever again.
- We must elevate the role of the doula by consistently practicing within our scope.
- We must have a point of accountability for when and if we practice outside of our scope.
- We must be transparent in our practices and in the support that we provide. When we work as professionals, we have nothing to hide.
- We must present ourselves as professionals and work collaboratively to improve the birth experience for all families.
Expect more information regarding this important and necessary action in the coming weeks.
As always, the ProDoula office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 6:00pm and will be available to take your calls and answer your questions. Please reach out for any reason at all. 914-400-3494.
Stay safe, stay creative, stay flexible, and stay at the ready to rally for change!
WHO – Hygiene Course: You will need to sign up for this on the WHO site.