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  • Amy Heaney

Online Doula Support

Support at a Distance


At this time, most hospitals across the country are only allowing 1 support person to accompany a birthing person. This is leaving families having to choose between their partner or their doula, and most are choosing their partners, rightfully so. This leaves partners as the main physical support person and the main advocate. Families are having to re-calibrate their birth plans to reflect current circumstances. It goes without saying that those of you who have hired me before the social distancing regulations were in place were counting on me to be there during your birth, for a variety of reasons. As a doula, I know that there is nothing that can replace having me physically in the room with you for hands-on support. With that said, thanks to technology, we have the second best option available: Virtual Support. As I do my very best to pivot my services from in-person over to virtual, I ask you for grace. I am not an expert at this. None of us have gone through a pandemic like this before. This is new for all of us. I ask for your patience as we learn and figure this out together, as a team.


In a virtual platform, almost everything a doula offers can still be provided:


Prenatally:

  • Our prenatal visits are easily transferable to a virtual platform. We will still discuss your questions, build your birth plan and prepare for postpartum. It may feel a little awkward at first to do this on video instead of in person, but once we get past the learning curve together, I feel confident these meetings will still give you what you need.

  • You will still have access to my Online Client Portal to get all of the information, tips & tricks, and resources that you deserve whether we meet in person or not.

  • We will be talking on the phone, emailing and texting as usual as you go through the process of building your birth plan, navigating pregnancy, etc.


In-Labor I Can Still Provide The Following:

  • Helping to find a comfortable position

  • Providing reminders about rest, hydration and nutrition

  • Providing guidance, relaxation and coping skills

  • Helping to answer questions

  • Helping to formulate questions for care providers

  • Guiding your partner through hands-on body work that cannot be provided from afar


Postpartum Visits:

  • While I always enjoy seeing your newborns up close, I almost never touch your baby or you at the postpartum visit except for hello and goodbye hugs. I simply lean over and give your baby googly eyes and offer suggestions for breastfeeding. This can easily be done virtually, though I will certainly miss your hugs and snapping a picture of us together.

  • I typically bring a bag of baby carriers with me and if you have one, I usually will demonstrate how to use it. I can still help coach you on how to put it on and put your baby into it safely/comfortably. If you don’t yet have a carrier but have the style of one in mind, I can demonstrate it on my end.

  • In addition to my postpartum visits, I always have and will continue to do tons of check-ins over the phone via email/phone/text which usually phases out around 6 weeks when you start feeling more and more confident in your parenting skills.


Technicalities

Virtual support comes with many format options: Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangout. If there is another form of connection you prefer, please let me know. Once you choose which format is best, we will set up a call to test it out. If we have prenatal visits to complete, we will do them on the chosen platform so we can ensure that when it comes time for labor, all of the technology kinks are worked out.


Steps for you to take

  • Go HERE and PRINT out these pictures to keep in your birth bag with your birth plan so you have visual support to reference during your labor.

  • You can sign up for free access to categorized videos that explain all that you’ll need to know when building your birth plan. I have most of this information typed out in my Packet but for those of you that prefer to learn with something visual/audio these videos are a great resource: https://supportingher.teachable.com/p/birth-a-to-z

  • Check in with your hospital to see what their wi-fi availability/reliability currently is. In some cases, you may not get cell service or wi-fi.

  • Consider finding an audio relaxation/visualization that you enjoy so you have something to listen to in the event we are disconnected during labor


Hospital Bag

In addition to your bags that you’ve packed (Find the suggestions HERE) for the hospital, you may consider adding items that I would bring in my Doula Bag.

  • A fan, manual and/or battery operated. I have fans for myself and the partner to use to cool the laboring person during the resting time between contractions. While any piece of paper in the room could potentially be used as a fan, it is easier for me to say, “now would be a good time to go get that fan you have in your birth bag.”

  • Plug in or battery operated twinkling lights or battery operated candles for mood lighting

  • Massage oil

  • Labor/birth position pictures (CLICK HERE to print for your bag)

  • Massage tool (DIY Hack: put two tennis balls in a tube sock and tie. This feels AMAZING as counter pressure on the lower back.)


Devices for labor support

There are a variety of devices that birthing people can bring to the hospital. Laptops, tablets and smartphones are obvious options. Ideally, we want this to be a hands-free experience for you.

You may want to bring a long cord for charging purposes.


Pros of a laptop or tablet

  • Can sit on a table

  • Can sit on bed stand

  • My face will appear bigger to you

Cons of a laptop or tablet

  • Must have large enough surface to rest on

  • Nurses often move tables to do their work resulting in someone having to put me back in place


Pros of a smartphone

  • Can be propped on a tripod in a variety of places in the room

  • Can be hooked to a speaker via bluetooth

Cons of a smartphone

  • May require purchase of tripod

  • My face will be small


Protocols for having the virtual device in the labor room:

  • As new staff members join the labor room, you can introduce me as your doula

  • Do not plug into anything with a red outlet or unplug anything in the hospital outlet

  • Be aware that at some hospitals, your device may have to be turned off during pushing times



Again, this is new to all of us, me as the doula and you as the birthing family. If there is anything you’re unsure of, or if you have ideas for how I can better support you under these circumstances, please don’t hesitate to speak up. I know we are all resilient and will get through this to the other side, and I want to ensure clear, honest communication between us along the way.


www.amysdoulacare.com/virtual | 209-556-2107 | amysdoulacare@gmail.com



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209-556-2107

amysdoulacare@gmail.com