Updated: Aug 3, 2022
My doula career got its jump-start during the pandemic. I was all ready to support my clients in person and BOOM the whole world shut down. Doulas were no longer allowed into hospitals and we all had to learn a new way to navigate our lives. During the past few years, I've been lucky and able to continue to serve my clients virtually and in-person when able. However, whenever I interview a new client, I always ask if they're open to the idea of being virtually supported because as we've seen, changes can happen quickly.
To adapt to these changes and to stay prepared, I always call the hospital or birthing center as my client's due date approaches. There may always be new rules or regulations and calling the source can yield important and necessary up to date information. I always call at least a few weeks in advance just in case getting approval is necessary and takes some time. Then I follow up as the client's due date approaches as a precautionary measure.
Here are the questions I ask when calling birthing centers or hospitals:
1. Are support persons still allowed in and if so, how many support people may be in the room?
Be specific and leave nothing to chance. Birth can have enough surprises, help your client to be as calm as possible by having as much information as possible and knowing what to expect, at least a little.
I always ask specifically if one support person aka spouse/partner/personal support AND a doula are allowed in the birthing space. Don't forget to ask about a midwife if one is involved. If you're a birth photographer or placenta encapsulator, you may want to make sure you're allowed in as well.
2. Are there any credentials or documentation I need to provide (as a doula) to be allowed in?
Some birthing spaces have certain specifications and requirements that put your name on a list of doulas who are allowed in. You may have to send in credentials, send in a vaccination card, or some other information. I always call a few times leading up to my client's estimated due date because regulations and requirements seem to change almost daily. This way, I can always be prepared and eliminate as many surprises as I can on the delivery day.
3. Are there any changes, restrictions, or guidelines I should be aware of?
With new guidelines, many hospitals and birthing centers changed how they provide what was normal services. In the beginning of the pandemic, only the birthing person was allowed in the space, then only the spouse or partner. Through these many changes, we've seen a lack of lactation consultant and pediatrician visits. The birthing space may have new guidelines or rules about masks, time restrictions, the use of birthing/peanut balls, or needing a covid test, etc. it is best to know about these up front, so you and your client can be prepared.
4. Where's the best place/garage to park?
Sometimes there's construction and especially if your are going to a hospital you're not familiar with, this is always a helpful question. Knowing this information has helped me more times than I can say. It also lets you know you can be safe as you park, which always is important and helpful to know.
"So if you stay ready, you ain't gotta get ready, and that is how I run my life." -Will Smith
It's in our nature as doulas and other birth professionals to be a bit flexible as babies come when they want and sometimes, we even have to try different methods to help them enter the world. Having as much information and being as prepared as possible is never a bad thing. We fight for our clients to be informed, so the only way we can truly provide them support is to be as informed as we can be as well. As the pandemic continues, new questions and situations may arise and we as birth professionals will have to continue to adapt to the new ways. Stay flexible friends and Let's Doula This!!
I wish you happy, healthy, and smooth births!!!
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