Doulas are not visitors; birthing moms need support

Recently, CNN reported that a “New York Hospital system is barring visitors, including partners, during childbirth due to coronavirus.” Tikvah Wadley, HC One’s Lead Doula, reflected on this recent news restricting doulas, partners and other loved ones in the delivery room.

This is a stressful time for the world and not to mention pregnant moms. COVID-19 concerns can increase mom’s risk of premature labor which can send her to the hospital.

But wait- there’s worse news! She’s is unable to have a family member or a doula to accompany her. This can add to a mother’s stress level, which may already be high – especially for women of color who we already know suffer higher levels of mortality and morbidity (as we’ve discussed in our recent Community Based Doula and the Medicalization of Birth brief).

Doulas’ benefits include the following:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased confidence
  • Boosted self-esteem
  • Improved relaxation
  • Comfort and reassurance

According to the World Health Organization, “All pregnant women, including those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections, have the right to high-quality care before, during and after childbirth.”

A safe and positive childbirth experience includes:

  • Being treated with respect and dignity
  • Having a companion of choice present during delivery
  • Clear communication by maternity staff
  • Appropriate pain relief strategies
  • Mobility in labor where possible, and birth position of choice

When you don’t have a doula this robs the family of the support they need and not to mention this is World Doula Week.

This was a hard decision for the hospital to make and this is also a hard result for so many families. They are implementing doula from afar by using smartphones and computers.

This is better than nothing in a moment of crisis, but I hope hospitals will weigh the importance of support and bring this experiment to a close ASAP. In the meantime my heart goes out to these families because we don’t want their joy to be replaced with fear.