What is Virtual Doula Support?

Pregnant woman checking phone

In these uncertain times, the hospitals are now enforcing restrictions on support systems for laboring women. Though these restraints are constantly changing because of Covid 19, it is best to be prepared ahead of time, instead of last minute worries. When difficulty strikes that is out of our personal control, setting up Plan B is better than no plan at all.

Virtual labor support can be of great value if you have one labor and birth support system or none at all. Virtual services can be set up on Zoom, Skype or Facetime. If the laboring mother is allowed one labor support person, a doula will walk that person through techniques to better help through labor. Some of these physical support techniques include position ideas for comfort including hands on touch, counter pressure, breathing techniques, etc. The doula can provide videos ahead of time or handouts that provide guidance to these techniques ahead of time.

Researching the virtual doula community ahead of time is very important. Interviewing doulas can now be done through virtual
means. It is important to be able to find a doula that matches the needs and personality of the pregnant mother. It is also important to discuss the decision to have a virtual doula with one’s health care provider. After finding a doula that makes a good fit, a deposit will most likely be required, as doulas have an oncall status and need to be available through technical means through the entire labor. A doula will be able to answer questions about labor and delivery, help with anxiety measures and help prepare in other ways for labor and birth such as devising a desired birth plan as you enter the hospital.

A virtual doula’s job will include continuous support through the technical venue that the pregnant mother chooses. The doula will be available to the laboring mother from the beginning of contractions to the delivery. It is important to know where the phone can be placed in the room, at the side of the laboring mother at all times so both women can see each other, as live communication can be difficult as the labor progresses. The doula will be able to provide words of comfort and answer questions and guide the laboring mother at all times. As hospital interventions may be possible, a doula can answer questions and provide the laboring mother and support person with more details and guide them in the decision process. If no support person is allowed in the hospital room with the laboring mother, a doula can provide continuous comfort and support as the mother progresses through labor. Though having one support person is better than none at all, some comfort measures can be performed with no assistance. These include visualization, using a birthing ball, walking and squatting or using hot water in the shower. A doula can still help with these comfort measures and provide encouragement and closeness even through virtual means.

Pregnancy can be a stressful time, especially as a due date approaches. Many feelings of anxiety may emerge. It is important to
have support and using a doula can help ease support as time approaches. A doula may be able to assist at the labor, if healthy, for
a long duration at the home and then follow the couple to the hospital and be in communication with the laboring mother virtually after admission. Laboring at home for as much as possible before admission to the hospital drastically cuts down on unwanted
interventions at the hospital. This time in pregnancy is important to begin to prepare for circumstances that may be out of one’s control, but can be prevented during a vulnerable time such as labor and birth.

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