Like with most pregnancy related choices, whether or not to hire a doula is a very personal one. Speak with a handful of women and an equal amount will tell you their doula was a key part to their labour and pregnancy/postpartum journey as you’ll find ones that say they regret spending the money. What you might not realise, however, is that despite the pandemic, you still have the freedom to choose whether or not you want a doula!
Even if the hospital where you plan on giving birth doesn’t allow doulas because of COVID-19 restrictions, Zoom doulas are now a thing – and a very popular one at that.
“In some ways, doulas are more ‘available’ on Zoom,” says Julie Arvan, a postnatal doula and the founder of Nesting Days. “Without traffic, parking and commute time, doulas can more easily ‘tune in’. Sessions can be shorter, more frequent and just as effective, but different, of course. The advice I’d give to a mum who is on the fence about having doula support over Zoom is to contact some doulas and share her concerns and reservations. I’m sure they will be happy to chat and answer your questions. No pressure.”
Backing up for a moment. Now that, despite the pandemic, you know you have the option for a doula – perhaps even more options than before- let’s clarify what exactly a doula does.
“The job of a doula is to support the new mother – be it through her pregnancy, labour and delivery, and/or postnatal recovery and newborn care,” says Arvan. “For many women it has proven to be a powerful intervention that has a positive impact on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the family constellation. For many doulas, it is a ‘calling’, and it was for me.”
It’s hard to imagine this kind of support translating over the small screen, but many women say it’s doing just that.
“I was originally pretty dismayed that my doula would not be allowed in the hospital with me, but when all was said and done, I felt just as supported throughout the process as if she had been there,” says Lauren Kivowitz, a client of Jen Darwin, a birth doula with a background as a labour and delivery nurse. “Jen helped me and my husband feel empowered to identify and advocate for our birth preferences in ways that we would not have known how to had she not been involved. She remained on call to talk or text us throughout the entire night and day that I labored in the hospital, and we felt very supported by her and lucky to count her as a member of our birthing team even though she wasn’t physically there with us.”
Zoom, masks and social distancing are all part of the new normal. The ’we can do this’ mindset is something that Arvan says doulas are masters at. “Their positive energy is contagious. We are all looking forward to this being over, but until then, we (and Zoom!) got you, Mama!”