The Benefits of Virtual Doula Support


Right now, we are living through an unprecedented time of change and anxiety. Few people are feeling this more strongly than those preparing for the birth of their child. One source of anxiety
for birthing people is the new protocol limiting support people at most hospitals and birth centers. But doula support is still available to you and just as vital as ever. In many ways, doula support is even more important now than ever before.


Whether you were planning to have a doula for your birth and thought it was no longer an option or you have never considered a birth doula before, here are some reasons that virtual doula support can be valuable for you:

  • We keep you up-to-date on changing hospital protocols and make sure you are always aware of your rights as a patient and as a consumer.

  • We provide on-going support before, during and after your birth through unlimited phone calls, texts and emails. In addition, you will have a dedicated, private (password protected) Zoom meeting room for face-to-face communication with your doulas.

  • Pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period are always emotional times, and never more so than now. You may find yourself, quite naturally, grieving changes to your vision of the perinatal period or feeling added worry about being in the hospital at this time. We provide a safe outlet to share and process these thoughts, feelings and emotions whenever they emerge.

  • We help you to craft and refine your birth preferences, taking into account both current circumstances and your own desires for your birth.

  • We guide and encourage you and your partner to advocate for your needs before, during and after your birth.

  • We educate and provide resources to make sure you and your partner feel prepared to birth without physical doula support, but we also understand that there is so much to remember and think about during labor. That is why we are always by your side through phone, text, and video presence as your “birth encyclopedia” so you never have to worry about forgetting something important. We will be there to remind you of your options and your rights, suggest positional changes, and guide partners in providing physical comfort measures.

  • We bring you a sense of certainty in a time of uncertainty. Because our team has a shared call schedule, you can be sure that support will be available when you need it. At any time of day or night, at home or in the hospital, your doulas will be there for you.


Many people imagine virtual doula support as a brand new invention but, in reality, doulas have always delivered a level of virtual support. In Boston Doula Circle, we have always offered unlimited phone, text and email support to our clients prenatally and for the first several weeks postpartum, along with phone support in early labor before clients are ready for us to join them in their homes. Now, we are able to add video call technology to our support toolbox.
These tools allow us to provide continuous support to our clients, regardless of changes to our birthing landscape.

 

Boston Doula Circle Guide to Virtual Support for Clients

(May be copied for public use with attribution to www.bostondoulacircle.com)

Additional Items to bring in your hospital bag:

  • iPad and charger or a laptop and charger. Headphones/earphones/earbuds with microphone x2

  • Please consider bringing wired earphones/headphones, as some types of wireless hospital equipment are impacted by bluetooth signals


What to do today:
 

  • Contact your phone service carrier and ensure your data plan is large enough to handle video chat for many hours

  • Optional: Install the Zoom app on a laptop/iPad and all smartphones (both birthing person and partner).  See below for step by step

  • Optional: Create a Zoom account. See below for step by step


While laboring at home with remote support:
 

  • Your doula will give you a link to our Zoom meeting.  Join the meeting on your laptop or iPad

  • Feel free to turn off/on your mute and video as needed

  • When you plan to leave for your birthing place, please join the same meeting via phone, so you and the doula can stay connected during this time


When you arrive at the hospital:
 

  • If you have time and are able to, please call back into the meeting with a laptop or iPad.  If you are not able to connect to the hospital WiFi, consider setting up your smartphone as a WiFi hotspot.  Try to find the widest camera angle possible, so the doula can have a full picture of the room.  Please leave this video on continuously.

  • There may be brief periods when hospital staff is in the room, and it is helpful for the doula to speak to you directly without everyone in the room listening.  At these moments, the doula may ask you to call her by phone for a more private conversation.  You may want to use earbuds/headphones at these times.


Other things to consider:
 

  • Consider getting a pair of CozyPhones/SleepPhones or something similar.  These may be more comfortable than having earbuds for a longer period of time.

  • If you are planning to bring an iPad, you may need to consider getting a stand or a case that will allow the iPad to be free-standing without holding it.


How to join a Zoom meeting:
 

  • For computers, tablets, or smartphones. Click on link provided by BDC in your email.

  • A new tab or window will open with options on how to join:

  • For easy access without creating an account or downloading an app, select the option “Join from your browser” at the bottom of the screen

  • If you have already downloaded the Zoom app or have a log-in, follow the prompts provided to join the meeting using your account


Optional — Downloading the Zoom App on a Computer:
 

  • Before starting make sure to have a functioning computer with working audio (and ideally video)

  • To access the download link, visit www.zoom.us/download

  • Click on the “Download” button under “Zoom Client for Meetings” and follow your computer’s instructions for installing the app

  • Once installed, open to launch the Zoom app and a dialogue box will appear

  • Click on “Sign Up Free” to create your account

  • Please repeat the download steps 1-3 for your phone and/or tablet.  You will only need one account.


Optional — Creating a Zoom Account:
 

  • When you go to zoom.us, click the “sign up it’s free” button on the far right of the top bar.  Follow the instructions to create your account. 


(Note:  Downloading the app and creating an account are NOT required to participate in a Zoom meeting.  You can go straight to the video chat with your doula by clicking the meeting link provided in your doula’s email message.)

 

Covid-19 Health & Safety Protocols

During the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have put these protocols in place for the health and safety of all of our clients and team members.  If any of the following protocols will cause a hardship, we ask that you discuss them with the team in advance so that we can make adaptations or accommodations for your needs.

 

DOULAS:

  • Doulas will take their temperatures before coming together with Clients for in-person support.  (A Doula must have a temperature below 100°F to attend Clients in-person.)
  • Doulas will undergo regular Covid-19 testing.

  • Doulas will wear masks while supporting Clients (along with plastic face shields when providing birth support).

  • Whenever possible, Doula will maintain appropriate physical distance (~6 feet apart).  If the Client and Doula are comfortable, the Doula may approach more closely for short periods (to model comforting touch, to have private conversations, etc).

  • When masks need to be removed (by Doula or Client/s) for longer than 5mins (such as to eat a meal), every effort will be made to provide appropriate physical distancing (6 or more feet apart, in a different room, or outdoors).

  • Doulas will remove their shoes, bag and exterior garments at the door of the Client’s home and place them in a plastic bag.

  • Any materials/tools that Doulas bring into a Client’s home or birthing space (such as essential oil bottles, massage oil bottles, massage tools, etc.) will be sanitized between Clients and kept in a zip-top plastic bag.

CLIENTS:

  • Client/s will take their temperatures before the Doula arrives for in-person support.  (Client/s must have a temperature below 100°F to receive in-person Doula support.)
  • We ask the birthing person and any other adults who will be in the room to wear masks that cover both their nose and mouth (this includes overnight nursing sessions during postpartum shifts, if the Doula is to remain in the room).

  • It is important to have good air circulation.  We ask that Clients keep a window open and provide a fan to maintain proper ventilation in rooms where Doulas will be working with Client/s.  

  • We ask that Client/s provide two full rolls of paper towels for Doulas to conduct frequent hand-washing and cleaning.

 

© 2018-2020 BY BOSTON DOULA CIRCLE LLC, 978-835-6357