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Doula work in the time of Covid-19

I never wanted to write this blog.

I must confess, I seriously underestimated how much this novel coronavirus would become. In the late months of 2019, as I heard about how the virus was spreading through China, I never imagined it would end up in my community.

But it did.

The virus first affected me personally as I was standing outside a studio where I was scheduled to attend a training for Lamaze childbirth educators. When no one else showed up, I looked at my email only to find the training had been cancelled. As I drove home, the governor of my state announced the first steps that would eventually lock down our entire state. Soon schools were closed and I became a home-schooling Mama. Restaurants and bars closed. We didn’t go to church. We met with friends only to walk 6 feet apart along wide walking paths.

I could no longer do my job as only one support person was allowed in the local hospital to accompany a woman in labor. Just as I was getting ready to launch my childbirth education classes, large groups could no longer assemble. At a time where pregnant women needed guidance and education more than ever, it was unavailable.

Many doulas and educators moved to virtual video services, and reluctantly, I did, too. It goes without saying, it is not the same. Not even close. The real benefit of doula support and childbirth education comes with the personal touch. The eye contact that communicates “I am here for you.” One of my fellow doulas confessed to me she had a client choose to take her to the hospital and leave her partner to support her and witness his child’s birth by video chat – the mother felt that strongly about how important continuous, dedicated labor support would be for here. What a choice.

My state has now moved to Phase 2 of slowly reopening. Laboring mamas are now permitted more than one support person in the hospital, so I’m back to doing labor support. I am able to teach 2 couples at a time in a childbirth class and I am also providing private lessons. When we reach Phase 3, I will be able to offer in person classes again. Slowly things will resemble what life used to look like before. It may never be the same, but it won’t always be like this. I hope.

I’m going to link an article that has the most up-to-date information about how Covid-19 can affect a pregnant woman. There is still much we don’t know. But we are making progress. If you are pregnant and concerned about how Covid-19 may impact you or your baby, talk with your health care provider and pediatrician. And don’t stop searching until you find the information and support you need.

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