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Pregnancy in a Pandemic

As if pregnancy didn't cause enough stress as it is...morning sickness; worry that baby will be ok; fear of labor and so on; now you have a pandemic to think about as well. Looks like we may be in it for the long haul too. Many are having their prenatal visits through Telehealth. Some are "not allowed" to have their spouse with them for visits or ultrasounds. Often you will see a different provider at every visit.

One of my primary goals as a doula is to help minimize fear and anxiety. Giving birth during a pandemic may make it all the more important to have a doula at your birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated that better birth outcomes are associated with having a doula present at birth.

A doula can be the one constant in your pregnancy, meeting with you several times before you go into labor and offering telephone and email support for the duration and several weeks postpartum. You will have already established a relationship with her, unlike meeting a nurse for the first time when you go into the unfamiliar realms of the labor and delivery unit in the throws of labor. Shoot, many times you will have a different provider at your birth because that happens to be who is on call. Hospital personnel will have masks on during the pandemic which may make it even more difficult to establish a trusting relationship when you haven't met them before.

Lowering your stress level can boost your immunity. Doulas can help you lower your stress level by:

  • sharing relaxation and meditation techniques

  • active listening with appropriate reassurance

  • giving tips for promoting physical comfort

  • and again just being that constant by your side

Some clinicians worry that having "an extra" person in the room will increase the odds of their being exposed to Covid19. However, trained doulas learn universal precautions and know how to minimize the spread of infection. They too will wash hands frequently and wear a mask. Typically doulas see far fewer clients than physicians do and they get the same screening as staff do when they enter the hospital. At times like this, doulas are more essential than ever and should never be considered an extra person. They may in fact be the only person, other than your partner who is not a stranger to you.

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