Covid fatigue is real ya’ll. That I’m writing a blog focused on Covid-19 and it’s impacts on birth…almost 3 years later is crazy, and honestly exhausting. At first, when the Coronavirus came out the entire world shut down, and hospitals created restricted visitor policies and restricted access to birth doulas. It was so hard. But we understood. Doulas weren’t allowed in the birth room, and although heartbreaking, with the unknowns and lack of vaccinations we understood that life and work normalcy had to change for a time. Everything was put on pause, and people giving birth in this time had very few options. (If this was you…just know you are incredible. You had the world stacked up against you and giving birth at that time must have felt so extra scary).
For almost 6 months, the hospitals restricted Labor and Delivery patients to having only 1 support person at birth. That means birthing parents were put in the position of having to choose their partner, another loving support person (aka Mom)…or their doula. An absolutely horrible situation to be in. But again…looking back at the crisis of a pandemic, the entire world shutdown, us staying in our homes, schools being virtual, avoiding all human interaction – this difficult decision by the hospitals made some sense.
But not now. Not almost 3 years later. Starbucks is fully open and full of people. Kids are back playing sports and in classrooms. Theatres and bowling allies are open. Dentists and massage therapists are in full work mode. Carl’s Junior has no restrictions and the restaurant world is more a buzz than ever! So riddle me this…WHY are Doulas the only restricted profession right now?
Why are birthing people losing their basic right to give birth with adequate support? I am not saying that there should be 12 family and friends in the birth room and call in Pizza Guy. However, I am saying that as someone walks through the most vulnerable, raw experience of their life (bringing life to this world) – they should be able to have their partner, mom or cherished friend for emotional support AND their professional birth support. A doula is not a family or friend. They are professionals on the birth team, someone who has worked with the client for months in preparation. A doula is someone who brings comfort, guidance on how to reduce the risk of cesarean section, education on birth options, hands-on pain relief, a feeling of safety, helping them achieve the birth they hoped for, someone who makes sure patients are heard and respected, reducing trauma that can affect someone for years to come.
It is a basic human right to be supported during childbirth. It is essential and respectful to allow birthing people the opportunity to have adequate support. To not encourage and allow birthing people this experience is wrong, and hospitals have the choice to make this better.
The good news…some Portland and Vancouver Hospitals HAVE made this choice to prioritize their patient’s needs and recognize doulas as an essential part of the birth team. And for this, the doula world thanks you and on behalf of our clients, thank you. Thank you to Legacy and Providence Systems for being creative and problem-solving this issue.