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  • Amy Heaney

Virtual Labor Support


At this time, hospitals in Northern California are only allowing 1 support person to accompany a birthing person. This is leaving families having to choose between their partners and their doulas. Most are choosing their partners, and rightfully so. This now leaves partners as the main support emotionally and physically as well as putting them in the position to need to be informed as the main advocate for you.


As a doula myself, I know that there is nothing that can replace having me physically in the room with you for hands-on support. With that said, thanks to technology, we have the second best option available: Virtual Support.


Can a Virtual Doula really make a difference? The short answer is a resounding YES! Here are some examples of how doulas can still support you virtually, even if they are unable to be there hands-on due to hospital policies or social distancing regulations:


Prenatally:


- Prenatal visits are easily transferable to a virtual platform. You will still discuss questions, build your birth plan and prepare for postpartum. It may feel a little awkward at first to do this on video instead of in person, but once you get past the learning curve together, doulas are confident these meetings will still give you what you need.

- You will still have access to your doula to get all of the information, tips/tricks & resources that you deserve whether you see your doula in person or not.

- You will still be talking on the phone, emailing and texting as usual as you go through the process of building your birth plan & navigating your pregnancy.

In-Labor:

- We use a variety of different online platforms (talking on the phone, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) to help support you similar to if we were in the room. We can suggest different positions to try, we'll remind you to stay hydrated and we will offer emotional and informational support to your partner so they can feel confident being your hands-on support.

- For moments when we aren't using a continuous video feed, we are still just a quick phone call away to offer guidance during decision making throughout your labor, formulating questions to ask your care providers and offering reassurance that you are doing amazing!


Postpartum:

- While doulas always enjoy seeing your newborns up close, we almost never touch your baby or you at the postpartum visit except for hello and goodbye hugs. We simply lean over and give your baby googly eyes and offer suggestions for breastfeeding. This can easily be done virtually, though we will certainly miss your hugs and snapping a picture of us together. - Some doulas bring a bag of baby carriers with them and if you have one, they can demonstrate how to use it. We can still help coach you on how to put it on and put your baby into it safely/comfortably. If you don’t yet have a carrier but have the style of one in mind, we can demonstrate it on our end. - In addition to postpartum visits, we always have and will continue to do tons of check-ins over the phone via email/phone/text which usually phases out around 6 weeks when you start feeling more and more confident in your parenting skills.

Here are some next steps you can take to help you and your partner navigate these evolving circumstances and support yourselves to still have the empowering, safe, wonderful birth that you deserve!


Step one:

Consider hiring a doula. Click HERE for a list of doulas offering Virtual Support.


Step two:

If your hospital classes were cancelled due to the outbreak, please visit this website to sign up for a free video series that will help you navigate decision making and procedures while you build your birth plan and prepare for labor day:

https://supportingher.teachable.com/p/birth-a-to-z


Step three:

If you don't hired a doula, consider finding a few options for audio relaxation/visualization that you enjoy so you have something to listen to in early labor to calm your mind and for later in labor when you need extra verbal reassurance that you're doing a great job. These can also be helpful during pregnancy to calm the mind.


Step four:

-Click HERE to print a list of suggestions for your Hospital Bag. In addition to these, a few items you may want to add to your bag that your doula would typically bring: a fan (battery or hand held) for your support person to help cool you off, battery operated lights to set the mood, & a massage tool. (massage tool hack: put two tennis balls inside of a tube sock and tie it. It feels amazing pressed on the lower back for counter pressure!)


Step five:

Print out the following items to keep in your birth bag along with your Birth Plan for easy reference during your labor.

- Supportive words your partner can say

- Positions for laboring out of bed

- Pushing positions with an epidural

- Pushing positions without an epidural

- Questions to ask when making decisions

I hope this information is useful and that it brings a little bit more calm to the chaos of being pregnant during this Covid-19 outbreak.


For more information about Virtual Doula support or to reach out to me directly, please visit my site at: www.AmysDoulaCare.com


Take care!

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