Doula Access Letter to hospitals.
During this time many facilities are changing policies to limit family’s access to doula care. Knowing the value of doulas to parental health, offering physical and emotional support, and offering families information and education, we feel these limitations without considerations are obstacles to family health. Many of these policies limit family’s in need of getting and maintaining doula care.
The following is the letter we have been sending hospitals in support of doulas.
To: Hospital Administration
From: Birth Arts International
PO Box 595
Bokeelia, FL 33922
To whom it may concern,
On behalf of Birth Arts International, a professional doula training organization, with over 20,000 members and students worldwide, we appreciate you for the position you have in the fight against COVID-19.
As the Director of Birth Arts International, I am reaching out to you to open communication lines to make sure doulas can continue to support clients in your facility.
I understand and appreciate the high level of infection control precautions you are taking at your facility to keep everyone in your care safe. We are also doing the same. We have added to our training program infection control education, PPE education, and supporting clients during a pandemic.
I am personally reaching out to you because we have heard from families and doulas in your community that they fear restricted access or restricted access has been implemented at your facility. Parents express that they feel as though they are under fire, and doulas are not sure what their next steps are. Doulas want to support families and feel now, more than ever; their work can make a difference.
I am communicating with you directly because we understand there may be additional policies in play about doula support. Doulas are a vital part of the delivery care team. We genuinely hope your facility’s policies do not prohibit or obstruct doulas from giving support and care to their clients during this critical time.
It is deserving of note that 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” as asserted in Interim Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings, February 2020. It is stated in these guidelines that, “If the restriction of all visitors is implemented, facilities can consider exceptions based on end-of-life situations or when a visitor is essential for the patient’s emotional well-being and care.”
Also, The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal
(AWHONN) released the following statement concerning doulas and care during COVID-19.
AWHONN’s Position on Doulas with Patients During COVID-19
AWHONN recognizes that doula support contributes to the client’s preparation for and support during childbirth and opposes hospital policies that restrict a doula’s presence during a client’s active labor.
Doulas are not visitors and should not be prevented from caring for clients in the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum periods. Most doulas have been contracted by client’s weeks to months before birth and have established solid provider relationships. AWHONN and ACOG recognize them as essential personnel and part of the maternity care team,” said AWHONN member Nancy Travis, MS, BSN, RN, BC, CPN, CBC, Florida Section Chair.
AWHONN supports doulas as partners in care and acknowledges their ability to provide physical, emotional, and partner support to women. AWHONN opposes hospital policies that restrict a doula’s presence in the inpatient setting during an infectious disease outbreak.
AWHONN advocates for doulas as partners in care and recognizes their expertise to offer physical, emotional, and partner support to birthing people. AWHONN opposes hospital policies that limit a doula’s presence in the inpatient setting during an infectious disease outbreak.
At Birth Arts International, we understand and have been training and discussing these are not normal times with our students. We have offered education and support to students to understand enhanced client support features and how to follow hospital infection control guidelines.
Doulas provide significant, research-based, and evidence-based support to clients, and it has been confirmed they affect positive outcomes. The data and research support doulas and highlight the health benefits of doula care. Some governing authorities have identified and recognized their value to our communities. Additionally, while doulas are not clinical care providers, they can play an essential role in providing emotional, educational, and physical support for families in these unpredictable times.
Policies that require membership, submitting medical records, paying vendor’s fees prevent doulas from being able to support their clients. Many doulas work in multiple facilities, take income-based clients, and these new limitations to access harmful to families and professional doulas. Doulas work for the family, not the care facility.
If you have any questions about the Birth Arts International’s scope of practice, additional pieces of training we have provided our students about COVID-19, or any other questions, please contact me directly.
Demetria Clark (Director)- 866-303-4372