Updated March 27th 2020
Dear Doula Families,
The evidence shows that doulas improve outcomes. We do so by helping you look at risks/benefits, weighing options and supporting you through the best decisions at any given moment. Doulas also support you through unknown circumstances and challenges along your birthing path (prenatally, during birth and postpartum). As you are aware, we are facing unprecedented times as COVID-19 sweeps through our nation. The biggest priority of Doulas of Northern Virginia is the safety of the families we work with, as well as the safety of our team and their families.
I hope this letter and update brings clarity, solidarity and comfort to move forward with a plan.
Most of the hospitals in the DC Metro area have limited labor/birth support to only one person. Although very disappointing, I believe this is the safest decision to keep our birthing families (as well as the broader community) safe. I also believe this is an important, proactive step to reduce the possibility of partners being absent during births (already in some of the hospitals across the USA). We are following all local policies and your personal doula will be able to guide you as to how they affect your birth. We are hopeful that these policies will change in the future to allow your family more than 1 in-person labor support.
Below is an outline of what to except as you and your doula plan for your birth.
- As previously stated in our first COVID-19 update we are only providing virtual prenatal and postpartum visits.
- As of March 27, 2020 we are shifting to only virtual support during labor and birth. We are adhering to the CDC recommendations and hospital policies. (Exceptions to this policy will be for birthing persons that have planned to have only their doula present from the beginning of hire. The decision in these circumstances will be autonomously made by the birthing person and/or their doula based on risk factors and/or personal comfortability.)
- If you are 34 weeks and beyond, your personal doula will be reaching out to you to discuss your hospitals policy and more specifically how it relates to your labor support. If your doula has not yet reached out, please feel free to email them. We are working very hard to keep everyone updated and supported but are also inundated with many calls, emails and of course… keeping our own families safe. We don’t mind a nudge to let us know you have a question and/or concern.
- If you are earlier than 34 weeks in your pregnancy and want to chat with you doula about how this may affect your birth, please reach out to them if they have not already done so.
- We will be sending all our current doula clients a PDF copy of our comfort measures workbook from our sister company (Balanced Birth Support). Your doula will also have a copy- an amazing resource to refer to during labor independently or with your doula’s guidance with specific pages and/or pictures!
- Your standard prenatal visit will be done virtually at 36-37 wks. You will use this time to prepare a birth plan and discuss any concerns specific to you. During this visit you can become familiar with the form of technology you may use for virtual support. We encourage you to download zoom and/or skype on your laptop/tablet.
- Your doula will be available for virtual support during your pregnancy. Please take advantage of the fact that your doula is extremely intertwined within our community. They have access to resources and information that you may not. It is even more important during current circumstances for you and your family to feel as calm as possible moving into the last weeks, days and hours of your pregnancy. Your doula will help keep you up to date on local policies, recommendations, isolation techniques, preparing for a baby during a pandemic, what to have in your home, how to adjust your birth preferences… and so much more! Please use this resource; I can’t emphasize enough how committed we are as individual doulas and as a team to support your family through this pandemic. Our work doesn’t begin when your labor begins. It starts the moment you hire us.
- Your doula will remain on-call for you and be available for you during early labor, just as originally planned. During this time they will help you recognize the onset of labor, what to expect in hours to come, explain normality (or in rare cases, abnormality), provide you with tips and tricks to remain rested, hydrated and nourished, help you with position changes/ideas to help early labor remain comfortable and calm, helping you decide the right time to travel to your birthing location… and so much more
- As your labor progresses into the active phase, your doula can support you with whatever virtual avenue is most convenient for you. We are very blessed to live in a time where technology can help your doula have a presence in your birthing environment. We are so thankful for the hospital staff that are already helping our families set up devices if needed. Your virtual support need could simply be phone calls and/or text messaging. In the past virtual support has looked different for every family and their needs. Virtual support still allows your doula to provide every single tool needed and we can use your partner by proxy to provide the physical touch.
- Your doula will also be doing a virtual postpartum support, including help with breastfeeding right after birth. Your doula will also be checking in more frequently once you arrive home. Our focus here (beyond our typical support) is to make sure that your family is feeling emotionally and physically well. You may not have access to your care provider as frequently and you will also be home with your newborn, not attending peer support and/or just need extra support. We have compiled resources to share in the case of any signs of postpartum disorders and want to proactively help our families keep a close eye on this. Your doula knows the signs and knows the questions to ask you and/or your partner, if applicable.
Things we would like for you to do as you prepare for your birth:
- If you are not already, please stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing, even with loved ones.
- Take care of your immune system- get outside and breathe some fresh air, however, remain much more than 6 feet from other individuals. Wash your hands often, don’t just rely on hand sanitizer. Eat some healthy yummy foods. Enjoy some citrus or throw some extra garlic in a recipe; great ways to increase vitamin C. Prioritize sleep, this is so vitally important. Sleep is the time that your body and your mind rest and digest. You are in a healing state when you sleep that cannot be replicated any other way. Exercise moderately each day.
- Print out or request a copy of your prenatal records or any other records that may be pertinent to your birth and/or postpartum recovery
- It may be helpful to purchase a baby scale, thermometer, prefold cloth diapers and 2 covers, and food to last at least 2 weeks for parent(s). Make sure any prescriptions are filled.
It is extremely important to me that I give praise to my team. Your doula has tirelessly been researching COVID-19, staying up to date on hospital policies, gathering resources, swiftly changing ways we are getting support to families and much more. Out team and your doula have never stopped advocating for our physical presence during your birth. Now we are collectively switching that advocacy to allow you to have at least 1 person present and we will not rest.
I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for your support as well during this time. Just like many self-employed individuals in the small business service sector, your doula is uneasy about the future. Please keep our team in your thoughts and prayers for financial and emotional stability through the next months. We want to continue to work in a field that we pour our passion into.
If you have any questions about the terms of your signed agreement, please reach out to me directly.
If you are in the position to donate funds to support our doulas in times of unexpected loss of income and to help them remain in this field… please do so here. There is gratitude for any donation. We are literally all in this together.
I am so happy that you chose to hire a doula… even though the path looks a bit different as you prepare for your birth, it is invaluable to have an expert at your fingertips; especially in an ever changing environment such as this.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly. I am wishing everyone health and positivity during this unnerving time. All birthing families have been in my mind and heart the past few weeks.
Elizabeth Owner, CEO Doulas of Northern Virginia
- We have partnered with one of our local midwives, Ryann Morales CPM, to provide extra support postpartum. Please reach out to her via her website or at Ryann@novabirth.org to learn more about how she can support your family mentally and physically during the isolation period after birth.
- We also recommend that you follow the WHO guidelines for pregnancy, birth and postpartum
- Recommended items to purchase
- Thermometer (follow pediatrician’s guidelines)
- Food for two weeks for parent(s)
- Laundry detergent
- Bleach or other antibacterial agent
- Apps for virtual support: Zoom, Skype, Google duo (this one is good if you have an area with bad wifi/internet)
- Wonderful breastfeeding resource: KellyMom.com
- Prenatal and Postpartum Support – Professional Therapist available for virtual support
- Feeding your baby during an emergency
Update as of March 16th 2020
The health and safety of our clients, doulas, extended families and healthcare providers is the top priority of Doulas Of Northern Virgina. As this Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to become a significant public health threat and closures are becoming widespread, we wanted to take a moment to communicate the safety measures we have in place and a few changes to our normal practice(s). Each of our current birth clients and class participants will receive an email regarding the below and how it specifically applies to your scenario.
- Because we work with the pregnant population along with newborns, who are both considered at risk, we will continue to practice (and increase) rigorous hand washing and personal hygiene at all times. This includes using personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed. We are taking our temperatures within a 12-hour range and will use these findings to make decisions regarding in person support.
- All of our client contracts already address policy/procedure. Our doulas do not attend births or scheduled postpartum shifts when they are ill, if they are showing symptoms, or if someone in their household has been ill. In the scenario of your doulas illness you will be provided a qualified, healthy doula from within the group. We also require Clients to notify us if they are a family member in the house have a fever, respiratory symptoms, vomiting, or diarrhea. This will continue during the current COVID19 pandemic. You are also required to inform us if you or a family member in your house has traveled out of the country in the last month, if you have a cough or if you have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- To support social distancing, we are moving all scheduled group classes planned for March and possibly April/May to an online forum. If you are currently enrolled in a course you will receive instructions on how to access your course. We will also be canceling any future classes/events at our discretion. This includes, but not limited to- classes, meet the doulas, postpartum visits, group peer reviews.
- Birth Doula Support – For the foreseeable future our doulas will be holding virtual consultations, virtual prenatal visits and virtual postnatal visits.
- Postpartum Doula Support – Families and doulas will use their discretion for postpartum shifts. However, we will be waiving the 24-hour cancelation fee if a family cancels a postpartum shift within that time frame.
- We are keeping a pulse on all local hospital policies regarding visitors and advocating for your professional doula to be permitted with you during your birth. We encourage our clients to check with their birthing location and become familiar with the policies for visitors, including doulas. If the policy is unclear, we encourage you to call the hospital for direct clarification. Please keep in mind that hospital policies are fluid and are at the discretion of the hospital administration. If the hospital policy changes and your doula can not personally be with you in a hospital setting- you and your doula will make a plan to provide continuous in person/virtual support during early labor and/or virtual support once you are at your birthing location.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to Elizabeth Owner, CEO Doulas of Northern Virginia, LLC