Should I hire a birth doula during a pandemic?
The short answer is Yes! There are loads of ways a doula can support you through your birth, even with the current restrictions within maternity units.
It’s true that a lot of hospitals are sticking with the one birth partner rule at the moment. Even though NHS England and the government have called for the restrictions to be changed. They advised that things could go back to how it was before (with 2 birth partners and someone with you at scans, inductions etc) but some trusts are not listening to the advice.
There are some hospitals who are respecting human rights and the choices of the birthing people. They have worked hard to make it safe and gone back to the 2 birth partner rules. Hopefully others will follow this good example soon.
None of this means it’s a waste of time hiring a doula. A huge amount of the work I do with clients is actually before the birth anyway. Providing support and evidence based information from the time of booking. A huge amount is also gained from the 4 hours of antenatal sessions that we go through together. I will support you to feel empowered, confident, informed and ready for the birth ahead. Being at the end of the phone and supporting in any way possible. There is also support for afterwards in the postnatal session, where I often discuss breastfeeding and answer those early parenting questions.
In a lot of areas doulas are able to attend home births without too much of an issue, but please do check in your local area. I’ve been lucky enough to support at home births during this time and everyone involved has had a fantastic experience, with no mention of covid19.
I’ve also been booked to facilitate antenatal sessions without the actual birth support. These people feel the antenatal care from their hospital hasn’t been very good during the pandemic, with hardly any face to face appointments.
There is still lots I can do to support you, even if you are choosing a hospital birth. There could be many hours of labour at home before you go to the hospital and I can support you in person throughout this time. I’d also be happy to stay in touch when you go to the hospital. You must remember the invaluable antenatal sessions we’ll do, hopefully after these you will feel able to tackle anything the hospital, birth and the situation throws at you! I will do everything in my power to give you the confidence to go into that hospital feeling strong and empowered.
If you are pregnant the best thing you can do to help the situation is to write to the head of midwifery and copy in the heads of your hospital trust, CEO and even your local MP for your area, and express your concerns. You can also copy in AIMS and Birth Rights. Tell them that you feel you need your doula with you because XYZ and that you feel it’s your right to have this. There are some great letter templates and resources at www.birthrights.org.uk and www.aims.org.uk
I’m more than happy to talk to you about this, particularly if you’re unsure whether to hire a doula or not. I’m happy to write letters with you and advise you on how to communicate with your hospital to achieve the best outcome for your needs. Overall I can still help provide you with an empowered, informed and choice led birth experience!
To read details about the services I offer please see https://breathebirthyoga.co.uk/