As the whole world is figuring out a new way of existing during this pandemic, doulas also need to look at a different way of supporting clients in birth. As doulas, we are in tune with our client when it comes to fear during labor. We know what things we can do to alleviate these fears. We know the hands-on methods of relieving fears and encouraging relaxation. However, the response to the pandemic is to keep the circle around the birthing person small to insure less possibility of exposure to the virus. As a doula, I appreciate this in my head space. I know the dangers of exposure for the birthing parents and the new babe, but my heart is sorrowful, as am unable to be with my clients, to intuitively anticipate their needs by observing the body movements and their sounds but most of all, their eyes.
So how can we support even in these times. Having multiple opportunities to talk via face time or text prior to birth might make this mode of communication more accessible during birth. Discussing possibilities for the partner to take the lead will give the partner confidence in this area. Providing the partner a “cheat sheet” of what to do during labor will be helpful. Sharing tools that you know they may use could be helpful! For example, our current client is a repeat client. They fondly remembered the peanut ball and the battery operated candles so I will do a doorstep drop off of these items for their use.
Finally, we need to realize this will not be how things will be forever, but we are called upon to be very creative in our support. We will let our clients know we are holding space for them, that they can contact us whenever during labor. We have to give ourselves permission to grieve but also to realize that all of the prep work we have done in prenatals will have prepared our clients to be ready to make this journey to the birth of their child. We have to trust that clients will reach out when they need us and they will know we are holding space for a positive birth experience.
Doulas, these are difficult times. We want to be there beside our clients, giving them the support they have sought after. We want to hold their hands when the journey gets hard, but we know our clients can walk this journey alone, knowing we are there in the background shoring them up when they need it.