Doula Support in Hospitals during COVID-19
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To the L&D Administrators at DC, MD and VA area Hospitals,
In order to provide continuous labor support to our clients, and to lessen the [non-clinical] burden on healthcare providers within the hospital, doulas must maintain access to all hospitals which offer Labor & Delivery units.
Earlier this week, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) released the following statement:
“Doulas are not visitors and should not be blocked from caring for patients in the antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum period. Most doulas have been contracted by patients weeks to months ahead of time and have established provider relationships. They are recognized by AWHONN and ACOG as essential personnel and part of the maternity care team.” - Nancy Travis, MS, BSN, RN, BC, CPN, CBC, Florida AWHONN Section Chair.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization acknowledges that doulas help to prevent maternal mortality by recognizing danger signs and alerting the care provider in case of emergency. We are trained in normal and abnormal signs of labor progression and many of us have key skills to help that progression along.
As a part of the team, we strive for the best care for our clients and always consider everyone’s health before joining a laboring person at their home or birthing location. We use great care to never enter the hospital when exhibiting symptoms of illness or when not yet recovered from illness and in the midst of this viral outbreak we will take all those same precautions. We are willing to submit to the regulations put in place by the hospital for safety of all who are present including, but not limited to, masks, temperature checks, gowns, etc. We are also willing to disclose any recent travel or illness for ourselves or our immediate family.
On behalf of pregnant individuals in the DMV area and their professional support teams, namely labor doulas, we are writing to express our commitment to lessening the healthcare burden for childbearing families, especially during pandemics or other times of potentially dwindling resources or restricted access.
To minimize disruption of care, we are requesting that official written policies be released stating that professional labor support people are not designated as visitors and therefore allowed unlimited access to Labor & Delivery units, per a laboring patient's request.
Through continuity of care and support in the birth setting, as well as the facilitation of improved communication, education and community connectedness prior to, during and after birth, doulas provide relief from stressful situations and free up nursing staff to focus on the most pressing needs.
We request that you continue to allow us to do our job well with our clients by joining them in labor at your facility and not barring our access with current visitation protocols. Please consider the role that we play as you are making your decision regarding what is best for your patients.
Nori Tobon, Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula
Kim Hawkins, CD, CLC
Jade F. Hillery, MPH, Birth Doula
Dina Piccioni, DONA Trained Birth Doula
Rachel Carbonneau, MA, CD(DONA), Owner of Family Ways
Kaely Harrod, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Educator, LLL of DC Leader
Jessica Kent, CLD, MD Perinatal CHW and PCHW Trainer, Postpartum Doula and Infant Care Specialist, CBE, LGBTQ Health Educator, Public Health Policy Lobbyist
Jenny Bennett, CD (DTI), HCHI
Becky Rohrback, CD (DONA), SBD
Lindsey Vick, CHT, RTM, Doula
Amy Durham, CBD
Elizabeth Oldham, CD (DONA), Owner of Balanced Birth Support and Doulas of Northern Virginia
Tamoyia Ragsdale, CD (DONA), Owner of Asha Village and S.H.E. Nation
Camille Nyman, SBD, MCPCD, MCE, MBE, IFS, NCS
Katie Tighe, Trained Doula, SpBCPE
Latia Dandridge, Birth and Postpartum Doula
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