Dear Governors & CDC: Doulas are Essential Personnel, protect their hospital access!

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Dear Governor,

All over the world, doulas have been called into hospital settings as a resource to save lives. With Infant and Maternal mortality rates RISING in the United States, the new force for change has been Doulas. Yet, in a state of pandemic, hospitals around the nation are cutting us off and stating we are "visitors" which in turn denies our access to our clients as they birth. As we head in to Doula Appreciation Week next week, we hope you stand by our work that improves outcomes for birthing persons and babies! 

Evidence has shown that families who have doula care during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum are at reduced risk for interventions such as pitocin, vacuums, and forceps. Birthing people who do not have doulas are at increased risk for cesareans which can lead to longer term risk for future pregnancies, infections, infertility, and disruption in breastfeeding, and a longer hospital stay after birth. Families birthing with doulas are also less likely to have babies that require NICU care, they have higher APGARS and are more likely to succeed with breastfeeding. [https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/

Now, in the state of a pandemic, hospitals and government administrations are throwing us to the side, counting us as "visitors" as if we do not provide evidence based care that improves outcomes for birthing persons, their partners, and their babies. Families are being left to birth alone, one of their greatest fears and reasons for having a doula by their side. Stand up and show the world that Doulas Are Essential! Doulas are not Visitors! Doulas are an integral part of the professional care team! We affect medical outcomes and treatments before, during, and after birth. Now is the time for government officials, hospital systems, and the CDC to show us they have our backs! 

We are in the midst of a pandemic and doulas around the United States agree, that quarantines and social distancing are necessary to flatten the curve. However, now families are being blocked from received Evidence Based Care that can promote an easier and shorter birth experience, to help them leave the hospital quicker and to have the best care possible. The last time a government official should begin to remove life saving health benefits is during a pandemic. The increased risks of interventions, cesareans, NICU stays, and patient traumatization that WILL happen due to our restrictions WILL be on your hands. The addition of doula care will roughly be 0-5 births per month per hospital, and not drastically increase volume of people in the hospital setting. We propose doulas be not considered into the visitor count. We propose doulas be screen similar to all other medical staff. We offer to temporarily contract with hospitals for a temporary access badge to allow us access to our clients. 

The CDC States "If restriction of all visitors is implemented, facilities can consider exceptions based on end-of-life situations or when a visitor is essential for the patient’s emotional well-being and care." [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/control-recommendations.html?fbclid=IwAR0ZIHF8h6UUYoBvhs66cPcd6UxDs82GeBuD041kI4J_XoEdA_LmRkdBuJE

Please confirm the use of doulas as an essential personnel team member in hospital births! 

The Association of Women's Health Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses states "AWHONN supports doulas as partners in care and acknowledges their ability to provide physical, emotional, and partner support to women. AWHONN opposes hospital policies that restrict the presence of a doula in the inpatient setting during an infectious disease outbreak." [https://awhonn.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

Help protect our clients. Allow them the professional care that they privately hired to support them by providing a letter of support for professional doulas with confirmed contracts. Hospitals are telling patients and doulas to take it up with the Governor, and putting the spotlight on you as well. One letter of support for doulas as essential personnel, and not as a visitor, during the restriction could change the way families are remembering their birth experience throughout the United States and this state of chaos.