As we navigate through this time of uncertainty, preparing for labor and birth can be one of the most challenging realities to face. COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Hospitalizations are increasing, and Labor & Delivery Units decrease the number of support persons and restrict doulas. Today on the blog, I will discuss some alternative methods for making the best of your birthing experience and why a doula is still beneficial even with hospital restrictions in place.
Throughout the DMV, many hospitals are implementing new restrictions on Labor and Delivery to decrease the possibility of COVID-19 transmission to staff and patients. Although this policy may be beneficial for the hospital's ranking to keep staff and other patients safe, it's not helpful for the laboring person and their partner. Statistics have shown that black birthing people are now 4-5 times more likely to die from pregnancy and postpartum related complications while birthing in US hospitals. 75% of Maternal Deaths are caused by postpartum bleeding, infection, sepsis, and pre-eclampsia. Limiting doula support in hospitals will likely deter birthing people from hiring birth support and will lack the education and information necessary to prepare for what to expect.
According to Evidence-Based Birth, it's proven that people who receive continuous support during labor and birth were more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and Cesareans.
If you anticipate birthing at a hospital, you should consider hiring a birth doula and develop an alternative plan to help you make the best of your experience. A birth doula will help you to:
Labor-at-home as long as possible: Hospitals encourage you to arrive once you are in the active phase, just because there's not much they can do for the early stages. Sometimes if you come too soon, they will recommend interventions to help speed up contractions, but evidence has shown us that the use of unnecessary interventions can cause more harm than good. A birth doula will teach you and your partner different methods, techniques, and positions to help guide you through early labor and manage contractions. With my doula clients, I send them a list of things to do during early labor and join them in-person during active labor to help get the baby engaged and offer physical comfort to cope with the contractions. Our birth team members at DMV Birth Doulas, currently work on Labor and Delivery units throughout the DMV hospitals. Even though your hospital may not allow doulas, you will have access to our support at those specific hospitals. We encourage you to schedule a consultation with us to see how we can help.
Transfer care to a hospital allowing doulas: If you desire to have your doula at your birth, you can transfer your care to a hospital allowing doulas. There is some hospital throughout the DMV that are currently allowing doulas; some include Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, Medstar Georgetown University, and all INOVA Healthcare Hospitals.
Transfer care to a birth center: If you plan to avoid the hospital altogether and have a low-risk pregnancy, transfer care to a free-standing birth center. Free-Standing Birth Centers are not connected to or affiliated with hospitals. In Maryland, we have one birth center located in Frederick, Maryland. They are currently allowing doulas and your partner to be present for the birth with the ability to have a water birth.
Consider Homebirth: There's no place like home birth. You won't be the first or the last person to switch to home birth in the middle of a pandemic. Many birthing people fear contracting the virus at the hospital due to the high turn over in patients and possibly being bullied into inductions and c-sections. There are lots of Certified Professional Midwives in the DMV to choose from. Some accept most insurances and require some out-of-pocket costs. If you cannot afford midwifery services, unassisted home birth may be an option for you if you've had multiple deliveries. Many resources, such as the free birth society, are available to help guide you through the process and what to expect.
Don't allow the uncertainty of this pandemic to determine how your birthing experience will turn out. DMV Birth Doulas, LLC is a group of doulas with over 40 years of relevant experience working throughout maternity hospital in the DMV. With our team's help and support, we can help you navigate and provide alternative options for you. Contact us today to understand your options and what we can do to help you take control of your birthing journey!