Before the pandemic, parents faced traditional fears around birth. Will it be painful? Can I do it? What if I need a cesarean? What if something goes wrong? Will I be a good parent?
Now, as the world fights a pandemic, families are facing many new uncertainties. How can I get to my provider safely? Will I get sick just walking into the hospital? Will my partner be with me? Will I be alone? Can I have my doula with me? How does virtual doula services work?
What you can do right now
As a doula one of the things I can do for my families right now and in birth is to educate them and update them on their choices. Demystify the process. Facilitate relaxation and remind them of their existing self care rituals as well as create some new ones.
Some of the practices we have been working on include:
- Practice mindfulness in prayer or meditation
- Accept support and offers of help from anyone who understands or listens
- Decrease existing stressors when possible- financial, social, environmental
- Facilitate visualization and positive imagery
- Introducing aromatherapy
- Communicating with providers about herbal options and tinctures
- Participate creative outlets like writing, painting, dancing, and singing
- Practice yoga, Pilates or dynamic stretching
- Express honest communication and listen with your partner alone or in virtual therapy
- Practice contemplation in nature, pet a cat, cuddle a dog
- Join and participate in a parents online groups
In labor, having a doula at your side, physically or virtually, can help to reduce the unknown, answer questions about what is happening now and what is to come, and improve communication with their provider. Your doula can recommend the best positions for labor and to address your pain. Help you with relaxation, breathing, and pushing. She can remind you of your intentions, goals, and desires. The doula can help you to understand what is normal and when to call your provider. She can encourage skin-to-skin bonding, boding with your partner, and infant feeding.
The postpartum period can already be difficult and isolating is now even more so due to social distancing. Friends and family who had planned to come and support you in recovery may no longer be able to. Your doula can step into their shoes and help you to field questions, concerns, and get your referrals as needed. Typically your doula is much easier to reach than any provider. She can be an interim situation to help you to manage your anxieties, while balancing when you do need to call your provider. Knowing that there could be a great risk of postpartum depression in this time, your doula can breathe with you and remind you of your self-care practices. She can be with you when you feel alone.