With the Stay at Home order in effect all over Colorado, many hospitals are only allowing one support person in the birth room. Because of this, many people are finding themselves having to choose between their Doula and their partner. Rightfully so, most people choose their partner.
Luckily, us Doula’s are pretty good at adapting and we have taken our support virtually. We are on the phone, using video call apps and texting our client’s around the clock. That’s because now more than ever, birthing people need guidance.
Many people are choosing to switch their care to homebirth midwives, in order to avoid COVID-19 or to simply not put further stress on the hospital system. But there are people that still feel the most comfortable birthing their babies in a hospital and as a Doula, I believe one of the most important factors when giving birth, is birthing where you feel the most safe.
So what does giving birth in a hospital look like right now? I have had the honor of virtually supporting someone recently at a Denver area hospital, and here is what I observed. First, I think we need to think about what being pregnant during a pandemic looks like. Pregnancy is stressful no matter what is or isn’t happening in the world, and whether the pregnancy is uncomplicated or not. Creating another human being is exhausting, sometimes scary and the outcome unknown. Add a pandemic to the mix and the unknown becomes even greater. Resources at hospitals are being stretched thin, as more people are becoming ill with this virus. Hospital staff are trying to manage that on top of the normal in patient flow. Doctor’s, midwives and nurses are working hard to protect everyone from coming into contact with coronavirus but unfortunately, that also means they may be more apt to introduce unnecessary interventions in order to get birthing people out of the hospital sooner. New parents are also not able to benefit from the postpartum support they may have otherwise had. Something that I feel is crucial when you are a new parent.
When I became a birth doula 4 years ago, it was because my own birth experience was very mentally challenging. So I have always put my client’s emotional health at the forefront of my care, vowing to do my best to not let anyone else experience what I had. When shut downs began due to the spread of coronavirus, I was angry at first. How could I offer birth support to my client’s that had already paid me to do so? Any Doula will tell you, we use our hands A LOT and I found it difficult to imagine helping someone without being able to use them. But as I worked with my first client virtually, I realized something. Anyone having a baby right now needs something even more than physical support, and that is emotional support. Something I built my business on. Thankfully, we live in a time that allows us to communicate with each other on several other platforms. Supporting my first client virtually meant a lot of phone time. I was able to answer any questions, walk them through different scenarios, guide them in making decisions and the most important thing of all, hold space for the feelings that came and are still coming up during this great transition. I know that new parents need an unbiased, listening ear more than they previously did, because they are lacking the in person support of their community.
So, if you are pregnant and reading this, and deciding if a Doula is worth it right now, I can assure you it is. I don’t know what the future holds or how soon Doula’s will be able to support their client’s in person again. I do know that everyone is trying to make the right decisions for the health of us all.
I also wanted to take a moment to give thanks to all of the health care workers right now. I know you are doing the best you can, with what you have, to heal and prevent this illness. I appreciate your hard work and dedication. We will get through this together!