Even in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, babies will still be born and families will still need support. We should explore the role of Doulas in the birthing process given all the changes the virus has brought.
This virus has upended birth plans: shelter-at-home orders prevent in-person visits and many NYC hospitals prohibit partners and support for laboring persons. Pregnant people and their partners understandably feel groundless, scared, and unsure of their next steps. But with support, future parents can manage this difficult time.
Every laboring individual deserves to feel safe, supported, and nurtured. Given our difficult-to-navigate medical system, laboring people need easily accessible evidence-based information about their healthcare. They need emotional and physical support to cope with the labor sensations. They need birth teams that listen and hold space for them and recognize that their transition into parenthood and the birth of a child is still a sacred event. The presence of a Virtual Doula can be an immense help during this time.
The needs of the laboring person do not change because of this pandemic -- but preparation, skill development, and adopting an attitude of flexibility are even more important now.
Evidence-based research leads to informed decisions about possible interventions. Physical and mental coping methods of pain relief allow for comfort when labor pains intensify. Communication techniques will help laboring mamas be their own advocates. Meditation, breathing exercises, and visualizations help them adopt an attitude of acceptance and calm.
Extensive preparation before your birth with a virtual Doula means you can develop the skills needed to cope with the sensations of labor and these difficult changes due to COVID-19. Working with me as a virtual doula means we have at least four prenatal meetings prior to your estimated due date. During these meetings, you share with me your expectations and your unique vision of your birthing experience. I share evidence-based research on common medical interventions and we practice communication skills so you can effectively interact with medical staff and express your preferences. As we discuss the stages of labor, I help you understand the logistics of laboring as long as possible in your own home with your partner. We practice physical techniques to cope with the labor sensations. I teach you methods of staying focused and centered for when decisions about your health care arise in the birthing space. We discuss post-birth life and breastfeeding (if that is your choice) -- an aspect of the transition that often gets inadequate thought or attention. And ultimately, we explore what it means to be adaptable and go with the flow of life.
If there's any positive to this scary time, it's the reminder that the power lies with the birthing person.
No matter who is in the birthing space, it’s you who delivers your baby. Not a doctor, not a doula, not a partner-- you. Knowledge is power. The more confident, knowledgeable, and empowered you feel going into your birth, the more you will be able to advocate for yourself.
For all the soon-to-be laboring people – I’m with you. For the partners supporting their pregnant loves – I’m with you. I wish it weren’t necessary for hospitals to limit the number of support people a laboring person can have. But if I know anything about human beings, it's that adaptability is what helped our species survive and thrive. That's exactly what we will do. Continue to adapt and support each other.
*The original post from March 27, 2020 can be found on Arielle’s website HERE!