Covid-19 and Doula Support

To: Hospital Administration

From: Birth Arts International

PO Box 575, Bokeelia, FL 33922

Phone: 866-303-4372

Email: demetria@birtharts.com

Date: March 31, 2020

To whom it may concern,

On behalf of Birth Arts International, a Doula Training and Certification Organization, we thank you profoundly for your willingness to protect our communities by containing the COVID-19 infection. We also want to thank you for offering support and for caring for those most affected by the virus. We understand and appreciate you are so busy at this time.

We are reaching out because we know in this climate that care, precaution, and measures are being implemented in protecting parents, staff, and other patients. At Birth Arts International, we provide our students with education on universal precautions because we understand the need for us all to be protected. We understand discussions have been occurring all over the United States about doulas offering their client continuity of care. We know that health care facilities must protect all patients, having a doula is we feel another of those protections. Doulas are a vital part of the birth team, often supporting clients for months before birth.  We hope that in these changing times that hospital policies do not exclude the birthing person from having the support needed at this critical time. We know the statistics show doula support is a significant benefit for families; we feel that now more than ever, with proper precautions and care, doulas can still significantly contribute to maternal health and well-being.

Since January, we have been reaching out to students, making connections, sharing relevant health information, have lectures, and providing resources to help them stay safe and to keep their clients safe. We will continue to do this, as we have for over 20 years.

According to the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on caring for a parent with COVID-19 advise healthcare facilities follow, “infection control guidance on managing visitor access, including essential support persons for women in labor” (Interim Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings, February 2020). We agree that facilities at this time may need to manage access so that care providers, patients, and doulas can all safely work together. The CDC further states that the emotional well-being of a patient is also an essential concern. Doulas can help with that.

ACOG on their website and different COVID-19 FAQ’s seem to support the addition of a doula to the birth team during this crisis. We know that ACOG recognizes and supports the value of doulas.

Also, The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal (AWHONN) published the following account concerning doulas, care and support and COVID-19:

“AWHONN recognizes that doula services contribute to the woman’s preparation for and support during childbirth and supports hospital policies that allow for the presence of a doula during a woman’s active labor. AWHONN supports doulas as partners in care and acknowledges their ability to provide physical, emotional, and partner support to women. Each hospital must make decisions that are in the best interests of the health of the hospital team, patients, and families. AWHONN nurses are on the frontline of delivering care, and we support those decisions and ask that nurses do all they can to protect themselves in this time of national crisis.” March 23, 2020

At Birth Arts International, we understand and been offering our students and certified doulas additional support resources to make sure they know that enhanced infection protocols are necessary and how to follow them. We have also added how to use PPE resources in our classrooms. Our goal is to maintain the safety of the family and the doula offering services.

We have been talking to our students to assist them in identifying symptoms. Providing them with information on how to isolate and protect themselves while on call, to follow local public health official protocols, social distancing, and making sure they maintain their levels of health to assist and support clients. Our students and graduates have been taught to follow evidence-based birth support practices, to offer clients the needed emotional and physical support care required, now, more than ever.

 We encourage you to visit the www.birtharts.com website and review the doula scope of practice. We know and understand doulas are not health care clinicians, but we do realize the value of offering families the much-needed support they require at this time.

You can view our Standards of Practice here.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 866-303-4372 or email demetria@birtharts.com

Sincerely,

Demetria Clark

Global Director, Birth Arts International

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