Virtual Doula Support
As of Monday, March 30 at 6:00am, only one support person is allowed to be in labor and delivery rooms in all hospitals in our area. At that moment, I was with a client in labor and I had been with her all night. But I had to leave. When I left, I knew we had to get to work, as doulas, to change how we do what we do.
Over the past week, we've given our clients extra videos to help them get ready for labor, we've done extra prenatal meetings to discuss what doula support will look like, and we've had the opportunity to support two clients have their babies over the weekend while providing them virtual support! So here's what we've learned and want to share with you...
Clients should take advantage of all the childbirth education we can provide prior to your labor. We are in the middle of our hybrid childbirth class. This class uses part recorded material and part live classes to help you become educated and prepared for your birth. Check out all our childbirth education options here. Also, check out this video to see positions and comfort measures that you can be practicing now to get ready for your birth. Christina, one of our doulas, is offering a FREE live breastfeeding class for our clients on Wednesday, April 8. Email Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this class!
Clients should take advantage of the extra prenatal support we provide to you during your pregnancy. We know that you probably have extra stress and anxiety during your pregnancy right now when you think about your birth. There's a lot of unknown factors - especially if you're due in the next few weeks. We are here for you to video chat, text, or talk on the phone through all these unknowns. Often times we've been described as a "best friend" to have through your pregnancy - that's exactly what we want to be, so always reach out to us with any concerns!
When it comes to actual labor, we are on the phone with clients in early labor to help you know when to go to your birth location and make a plan on how to manage the early stages of labor at home before leaving. Sometimes we talk to the mom in labor and other times we talk with the partner about how to best support the mom. When labor becomes more active and you are at your birth location, we are with you every step of the way. We encourage couples to use a phone with a tripod or to use a tablet or computer so that it's easy to set the device down where mom and partner can still see the doula and the doula can see what's happening to give appropriate feedback. We help moms stay on track breathing through contractions and staying relaxed by talking them through each moment. We tell the partner where to massage the mom, and we remind mom and partner to eat and drink in labor. Depending on the situation, we are not always there via video the entire time. Sometimes, a couple needs a plan for what to do for the next 30 minutes or hour. So, we will come up with a plan of positions and then let them do that for the next phase of the labor. After that time is up, they contact the doula again and we reassess and talk about next steps. Whenever the care provider (the doctor or midwife) comes in the room, we are there via video so that we can understand suggestions from the provider and ask clarifying questions if anything seems confusing to the couple.
When I knew that we wouldn't be able to go to the hospitals due to COVID-19 for an unknown amount of time, I was crushed. I was so sad for our clients. But, the reality is, we are still able to do almost everything that we do in-person in a virtual way instead. We are talking you through your options in pregnancy and educating you to prepare you for your birth. We are helping you know where you are in your labor and helping you know what to do next. We are normalizing the entire process for you and your partner which brings both of you an incredible amount of peace. We are giving your partner the confidence and knowledge to step in and know what to do next. We are reminding you of your options, giving your evidence-based information, and empowering you to speak your concerns and opinions to your care providers in a respectful way. We are there with you. I was "with" a mom while she was pushing yesterday and she was doing incredible work pushing so hard at the end of a long labor that lasted over two days. I was with her and her husband those two days mentally, emotionally, and physically looking at them through my screen. That moment that her baby was born, it was pure joy in the room and it was an honor to celebrate with the family! The father had this to say about doula support...
"Doulas are worth their weight in gold! Having a doula group chat in the beginning of the labor was great for the variety of ideas that came about, but we ultimately partnered with Jessica, and she was with us for our labor all weekend, from the water breaking on Friday afternoon, to the birth on Sunday afternoon, and then postpartum support on Monday morning. We would text a bit, and then get to FaceTime with Jessica. She wasn't afraid to ask our nurses and doctors questions to get the most information available to help us have our VBAC (vaginal birth after a prior cesarean delivery). It was a LONG weekend but we ultimately had a successful VBAC after some (literally) tight spots. Thank God for FaceTime and doulas!"
If you are already a Natural Baby Doulas client, know that we are hoping for hospital restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible! But, if the hospital policies do not change, it does not change our commitment to you or our ability to be with you through the process. It's always a joy and honor for us to walk with you every step of the way. Please reach out to us if you are a client and have any questions or concerns - we are always here for you! If you're interested in doula support with us, in-person (hopefully), or virtual, learn more about us and reach out to us through our website.