We understand that in recent months your hospital made changes to its visitor policies as the world faced an unprecedented challenge – COVID-19. We understand why this decision was made, and we know that your utmost goal is to keep both your patients and staff as healthy as possible, but as birth professionals, we also know that birth is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The experience of birth can have long-lasting impacts on the emotional and physical health of moms and babies.
The long lasting impacts of one’s birth experience was proven by Penny Simkin’s study in which she explored and analyzed the long-term impact of the birth experience and found that; ‘”Women reported that their memories were vivid and deeply felt. Those with highest long-term satisfaction ratings thought that they accomplished something important, that they were in control, and that the birth experience contributed to their self-confidence and self-esteem. They had positive memories of their doctors’ and nurses’ words and actions. These positive associations were not reported among women with lower satisfaction ratings.”
Birth is a monumental physical and emotional experience that stays with the person forever, whether positive or traumatic. We know that your staff works hard to keep both mom and baby safe and healthy during labor and delivery, but many families desire to have more than just a safe and healthy birth – they want to have an empowered experience where they feel deeply seen, supported, and heard.
Statistics for Doula support are significant. Doulas are not just a ‘nicety’ to have at birth, doulas improve birth options.
39% decrease in the risk of Cesarean; the largest effect was seen with a doula (39% decrease)*
15% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; the largest effect was seen with a doula (15% increase)*
10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief; the type of person providing continuous support did not make a difference
Shorter labors by 41 minutes on average
38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score
31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
Doulas are able to support clients hour after hour. They enter the birth space with a relationship that has been established and fostered over months of conversation. They are there 24/7 to remind clients of their innate strength and to encourage parents to talk openly with their care team. Also, institutionalized racism didn’t just disappear with this pandemic. Black women are 3.2x as likely to die in childbirth/pregnancy than white women. Doulas, especially doulas of color, are addressing these racial discrepancies in healthcare by providing their clients with education and advocacy.
Many birthing families find that having just one familiar face in their birth room makes a HUGE difference in their experience. As staff is stretched thin…having a professional doula is perhaps more important than ever. Labor and delivery nurses do not have the time to provide constant emotional and physical support during birth…their clinical tasks are important and should be prioritized.
With social isolation at an all-time high…the risks of postpartum anxiety and depression also increase. Professional doulas can help safely bridge the gap between the excellent medical care your hospital provides and the individualized and personal support that all new families need.
Hospitals across the country are allowing professional doulas into the hospital because they know that this type of support is essential. When birthing families feel like they have agency and choice, they are far more likely to stay at your hospital and with their original medical team. When birthing families see other places across the state and country that are allowing doula support, many of them begin to question their choice of birth location…and some even make late transfers to other hospitals, birth centers or homebirth midwives.
Hospitals have the ability to recognize doulas as evidence based care providers and an integral part of the care team, which is why professional doulas in Michigan have had the support of the Governor since Executive Order 2020-07 went into effect in March:
“Labor qualifies as an exigent circumstance under this order. Therefore, a partner AND doula may accompany a laboring mother, if they pass the health evaluation.”
We know that safety is important. We also believe that allowing a partner and one professional birth worker per family will have far more positive effects than any risks. With proper COVID screening and PPE (provided by the doula), doulas can attend births safely and improve outcomes. Professional doulas decrease cesarean and intervention rates, while positively affecting infant outcomes and breastfeeding rates. A doula can help decrease the amount of time healthy people are in the hospital, considering cesareans and interventions can require more hospitalization time and additional PPE for the medical staff. Doulas can also offer families the extra support and love during an incredibly scary and trying time. We need emotionally healthy parents now more than ever. We would love to see your hospital join hundreds of hospitals across the country that agree doula support is absolutely essential and important.