We are all dealing with adapting and figuring out how to live our lives during a pandemic… but the babies don’t stop! Here is an update for my local region (Austin TX) regarding BIRTH DOULAS and COVID-19 in our area hospitals.
Birth doulas are recognized as part of the healthcare team, therefore they are WELCOME in most of our area hospitals including all St Davids Healthcare and Seton/Ascension facilities. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor/midwife in advance if you have hired a birth doula. They may be required to bring proof of their certification (or if they are in training, the organization they are training with) and a copy of the client/doula agreement or contract. It is recommended that doulas show up at the same time as the laboring client when possible to avoid any issues. Remember, ALL support people (including your partner and doula) will have to pass a Covid-19 screening before being allowed to enter a hospital.
Birth Centers and home birth midwives are having to decide what their policies are regarding Covid and their patients. Please have a conversation with your midwife about what would happen if you tested positive for Covid, or if you partner or doula has possible exposure or symptoms.
What about Postpartum doulas? Currently doulas are NOT allowed to support families in the hospital, although we hope those restrictions may be lifted if case numbers decline. Only your chosen support person is allowed to be with you during your hospital stay. However Postpartum doulas of course are still in VERY high demand- more so than I’ve seen in my 25+ years in this field! My recommendation is to book your postpartum doula well in advance to make sure you have the care and support you need. When interviewing a potential postpartum doula during a pandemic, there are a few extra questions you may want to bring up, including:
- Are you vaccinated against Covid? Have you had a recent infection (which would provide natural antibodies for 6 months or longer)
- What precautions do you take to prevent the spread of illness to my family? (This could include flu and other viruses!)
- What are your policies about illness (for both parties, doula and family members)
- How do you handle your absence if ill? (Backup, reschedule etc)
These may feel like awkward questions, but we all needing to be learning how to have these open and honest conversations about our health, and lifestyle choices to make sure we are a good fit for each other!