Doulas adjust to social distancing before and after birth

Local News

HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, expecting mothers are faced with an array of tough decisions. One of those decisions include making a choice between their loved one and doula as their one permitted hospital guest.

Doulas are known to support women emotionally, mentally and vocally throughout labor.

However, Valley hospitals will not allow doulas inside as a birth team assistant despite their bridged role between medical providers and mothers.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists updated their committee opinion in 2019 — removing doulas from their list of recommended non-medical supporters. The college believes doctors work best with minimal intervention.

On the other hand, studies from The Journal of Perinatal Education reveals doula interventions reduce a significant number of cesarean sections, unnecessary drug administration and shortened duration of labor.

Longtime practicing doula, Brandi Kennedy owns and operates Compassionate Birth Services, LLC in McAllen. Her services are limited due to social distancing, but since March she has made special accommodations for her clients to feel safe and supported. Kennedy offers majority of her services via FaceTime or in person while wearing a mask. Her concerns lies within the medical community and she wants to know why doulas are not permitted inside hospitals upon mothers’ request?

“We’re not visitors. We are absolute important members of the birth team and if we can pass the same requirements the partners need to abide by as far as fever and travel…doulas should also…as far as I’m concerned to be admitted in,” Kennedy explained.

Her hopes were to advocate for her clients in the hospital, but lately she find herself advocating outside of it.

“Most of the moms will want to labor at home for as long as they possibly can and that becomes an issue for the hospital, the nurses and the doctors. When [a] client comes in and she starts pushing within just a few minutes or for half an hour…[nurses and doctors] don’t have time to do all of their things like blood work, paperwork, all of that,”

Other hospitals out-of-state are granting doulas facility admission as a birthing team partner, as long as they are social distant complaint. While research is limited, CDC researchers suggest “pregnant people appear to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant.”

CDC medical officials are still advising women to protect themselves. DONA International, one of the largest doula certifying programs, released a precautionary plan outlining the best practices for doula work under CDC guidelines.

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