Post # 1
Hi Bees. I need some advice, especially from anyone who has given birth or is preganant right now. I’m currently 31 weeks pregnant. Months ago we hired a doula to help with my labor and delivery at a hospital. I am not planning on having a medication free-birth (I want an epidural), but I wanted the support of a knowledgeable person besides my husband during labor and we are also hoping we can have a vaginal birth, although I know some things can’t be predicted. However, there are some things doula could help with to encourage vaginal birth such as helping me labor at home as long as possible to get dilated to at least 7cm before going to hospital and getting epidural, providing massage and accupressure during contractions, instructing me in physical activity to encourage further dilation both at home and then eventually the hospital. So it was a win-win for me to have someone help me with all these things as I don’t know how my husband will react in labor.
The package we purchase included 2 in preson prenatal visits, presence during entirety of labor and delivery (at home and in hospital), help with breastfeeding after delivery, and then one postnatal visit at home. We put down a 50% deposit to reserve her services months ago but so far have not completed the prenatal visits as those are recommended at 31 weeks and 35 weeks. We would pay the other 50% of the service fee at 37 weeks.
The problem comes with the coronavirus outbreak. Starting today the hospital where I’m giving birth changed their visitor policy. Before I was entitled to 2 support people during labor & delivery, but now I’m limited to only “one healthy partner”, which means no doula. This could change before my due date, but I’m skeptical as I think we are just at the beginning of the outbreak and I think the rule will still be in place when I go into labor.
When I expressed my concern about the doula being at my acutal birth to the doula and doula agency I got these responses:
In this case what we would do is I would still help you labor at home for as long as you like, help you get to the hospital and then provide virtual support for the rest of labor. I’m really hoping that by your due time the situation has changed but for now that would be the best plan.
We believe that doula support is currently more important than ever and that, while your doula might not be able to be physically present for your birth, there are so many ways your doula can help you prepare for your birth and support you virtually during your birth. We are hopeful that by your due date, the current situation will change, but we realize it’s a fluid situation. We firmly believe your doula can continue to provide you with powerful support, even if it was different from what you had originally envisioned
I don’t want virtual support during birth, I don’t think that would be helpful for me. But maybe having her with me would be helpful for laboring at home? But I don’t think I should have to pay as much for that. I just don’t know if it’s worth it at this point as the doula was expensive but we thought it would be worth it to have the support. But now for what they’re offering given the restrictions (which is obviously noone’s fault) I’m wondering if I should just go it alone. I could wait and see, but if I do the first prenatal session I get less of a refund so I really want to think about what I want before I move forward with that session. Obviously I will talk to them more in depth about what options for refund are, my first time reaching out to them was yesterday after I started reading about visitor restrictions.
What would you do? Cancel doula totally and get refund? Try to negotiate a lower rate for just pre-hospital services?
Post # 2
Do you have a support person other than your husband if he were to get sick?
If you have another support person or are fine going it alone, I’d either cancel or try to get a lower rate personally. Virtual support would not be helpful to me either.
Personally I would not want to labor at home until 7 cm though, especially if you’re fine getting an epidural. At 7 cm I could barely talk or move, let alone get in a car and walk into the hospital on my own.
Post # 3
Thanks for replying. I did have the passing thought of what to do if my husband got sick so thanks for making me think of a contingency plan just in case. I hadn’t picked another support person as I was settled on just my husband and doula (before this the hospital only allowed 2 support people during labor). But my family lives like a 3 hour drive away, so although I hadn’t originally planned to have my mother there during labor, I could call her to be there if something happened with my husband (if she is healthy).
Also, this is my first time giving birth so I have no idea how 7cm will feel, so thanks for giving me some insight. I was just going by what the doula said, as she mentoned that epidural slows labor down, so it is helpful to labor as much as you can beforehand in order to progress labor and lower possibility of csection.
Post # 4
I would cancel because I wouldn’t want the doula in my home right now. She could bring corona to you and in turn you could bring it to the hospital.
Also, research shows epidurals don’t slow labor.
I’m sorry you’re going through this :/ I just had babies 11 weeks ago and I can’t imagine having to deliver during this mess.
Post # 5
This is really personal, and unfortunately you’re not gonna know how you feel about needing/wanting a doula until you’re in that situation. I will just share my experience in case it’s at all helpful , with the caveat again that everyone is different and you may feel totally differently when your time comes!
I thought I wanted a doula while I was pregnant. I wanted to try for a natural birth and had read a lot about how helpful doulas can be. Also, my husband is really squeamish around needles and medical situations, so I was worried he wouldn’t be able to give me the type of support I needed. In the end, the doula I wanted (highly recommended by some friends of mine) wasn’t going to be available during my birth month, so I just gave up on it.
During my labor and delivery (water broke at home, I was then induced with pitocin at the hospital cause I wans’t contracting on my own) – my only support person was my husband. He rose to the occasion and was there for me 100%. I ended up getting an epidural for pain management after a few hours on pitocin, which I am positive I would have done even if I’d had a doula. I don’t have that kind of pain tolerance and I wasn’t trying to be a hero at that point. My labor progressed quickly once I got the epidural (completely contradicting the fearmongering you see in natural birth groups online about how epidurals allegedly slow down labor), and I had a very straightfoward vaginal birth and relatively easy recovery. I loved that it was just my husband and me there. I think I actually would not have had any patience for a doula given the way things played out. While I was laboring without the epidural, I wanted to be left completely alone – I didn’t want anyone touching me or appyling pressure or telling me how to breath – it just wasn’t helpful to me (but I couldn’t have known that beforehand). And once I had the epidural, I was pretty much just chillin as my body did its thing. During the birth itself – my OB walked me through pushing and my husband held my hand, and that was all I needed. I think a doula would have felt “extra” to me. The nurses, my OB, and my husband were all amazing and offered all the support I could have wanted. However, if I’d had a complicated birth maybe I would feel differently, I don’t know.
I do have a number of friends who used doula services and not one of them regrets it, so I know it can be amazing – but for me personally, I didn’t need it and am glad that it was just my husband with me.
Post # 6
That’s a good point about the doula exposing us to corona while helping me through labor at home. As it is she said the two prenatal visits leading up to birth will be virtual, so I have a feeling it may be an issue with her being present during my home labor…and if that will be virtual too there really is not point to me. And thank you for the research about the epidurals and labor, it makes me feel much better. And thanks for your validation on the hardships of giving birth during this mess, it’s much appreciated! Other things we’re now having to consider are restricting my parents in law who live a plane ride away from visiting our newborn in June. As of now they are adamant on keeping those plans but I think I’ll have to seriously reconsider visitors to my newborn baby during the first 3 months because of everything going on.
Thank you for telling me your story it was very helpful and makes me feel that if I decide not to go with the doula (as I may be leaning toward given the circumstances) I won’t always regret it. I think I might be like you with my reasonings for wanting a doula but also how I may respond to needing space during the actual labor (just based on how I am in my overall life and how I respond things). Of course if coronavirus wasn’t a thing I would go with the doula, but if I can’t get the services I want I’d rather save the money.
Post # 7
My suggestion would be to see how long you could wait before cancelling. Things may change but also may not, we are essentially early in all these changes and things are totally day to day. As for laboring without a doula- you can totally do it! If you decide to take that route, work with your husband to learn some of the techniques a doula may have been able to provide.
My personal experience with my first last year was I thought I wanted my mom, sister and husband with me but come “go time” I wanted no one and went totally into myself for strength. I also inadvertently labored from home until I was 9 cms thinking I wasn’t in real labor and really wanted to labor from home as long as possible. Turns out I did because my daughter was born 45 mins after arriving at the hospital. Nothing’s ever as planned right?!
Post # 8
Yes, I’ll try to have a conversation on the phone with the doula today and ask her how long I can wait before forfeiting my initial deposit. But from the language in their replies it just seems as if they think these virtual substitutions would warrant the same payment and I totally disagree, at least for me personally. And thank you for your confidence that I can labor without the doula, it’s appreciated. And thanks for your personal experience, it’s interesting to know that one person can feel extremely uncomfortable at 7cm while another isn’t aware that she’s in active labor at 9cm! I have no idea how I’ll be during labor.
Post # 9
Remember that they’re running a business and trying to preserve their income. Virtual support is not the same, any doula proud of their skills will tell you that. Having a doula is a perk, not a necessity to warrant the extra exposure. It’s not going to work in this pandemic climate. Just wash your hands of it, pun is unintentional but convenient, and focus on prepping yourself for moving forward as safely as possible. I wish you a safe and healthy labor and delivery. Be careful, be safe.
Post # 10
You make a very good point about their main concern being trying to preserve business. According to the contract we signed if we terminate before any services are rendered we will forfeit 25% of our initial deposit, but will get a refund of the rest we already paid. Although I will of course push them on giving us 100% refund for our deposit due to the pandemic, like you said it’s a business and they’ll probably cite that they offered virtual services. Also in the contract it says they’re not responsible if the doula cannot provide services due to “acts of God” or “restriction by medical providers”, which they might file this pandemic under. Nonetheless I’m heavily leaning toward cancelling and taking the 25% loss of my deposit if need be. I have a phone call with the doula tonight and will get more clarity on my options. Thank you.
Post # 11
I have no advice but I’m following to see what others say because I’m 6 months pregnant with my first. We hired a private doula who I really love and I’m excited about but as of right now my hospital is only allowing 1 person as well.
I’ve got about 3ish months till delivery but I am worried that these rules will still be in place then and if I have to choose I’m taking my husband over my doula. Sigh.
Post # 12
Is she also a postpartum doula? Could you get x hours of postpartum doula services after baby
Post # 13
Yeah I was pretty excited about my doula too but they’re estimating the virus will peak in about 45 days in my area so I’m pretty sure the rules will still be in place when I give birth in 2 months. Sigh indeed.
Yes she is also a postpartum doula and she did offer some postpartum hours to make up for labor hours but with everything going on I just don’t know how comfortable I would feel now with exposing a newborn to too many people when her immune system is so low.
Just as an update I decided to cancel services totally. My doula was very disappointed and tried to convince me to stay, but I told her this is what’s best for us right now. I spoke with the agency and I’ll only get 50% of my deposit back per the contract, which kind of sucks (because of the economy and everything right now) but is ok because they are a small business and did mention in their response that lots of people are asking for refunds right now.
Post # 14
I decided to keep my doula for the pre-labor stuff. And if she isn’t allowed in the hospital for my birth (I’m due early July) then I’ll only pay half the total price.
My doula has been really great with educating my husband and I about labor and teaching him how to be a great support person. And I want to know pain management techniques to use if/ before I get an epidural.
But I am bummed that most likely she won’t be able to attend the birth. My OBGYN predicts that COVID-19 will peak during the summer in my area…