For many mums right now they are accepting that its one birth partner only ... but does no really mean no?
You get the positive test and the birth preparation starts. You have done the research and have decided that a doula is the right thing for you. You've made your first appointment and after which, the thought of going through birth is a lot less daunting.
Now you are getting:
>A birth professional who understands you and your needs on a personal level.
>One to one support throughout your pregnancy - catered for you.
Your birth is fast approaching and you get the news that your doula can no longer support you at hospital. You're back at square one.
For many of my clients this has been the scenario. With the dreaded Covid-19 causing mayhem and each hospital doing its own thing, its very easy to assume that you can no longer have the birth that you planned, wanted and need. It's also important to note that this is not about having a doula. Having the right support for you in your birth is important, be that your mum, dad or sister. What's important is that you feel safe in your birth.
So you have been told no...is that it? absolutely not!
How do I get the birth I want?
It's simple know your rights!
Remind yourself that there is only one legal requirement in your pregnancy; to get babies name on birth certificate. Everything else is your choice, your body, your pregnancy.
For my clients that challenge this with the maternity department suddenly there is a change of pace. I always signpost to Birth Rights (see link at the bottom). 99% of the time their stance has always been clear- each hospital should have a case by case approach with regards to pregnancy, including yours. This means that if you feel the need to have a doula and you can demonstrate that need then this should be considered and taken seriously.
Make it clear that each case should be reviewed and taken seriously. Make sure that you explain the impact this is causing to you and your mental health and that you feel it is going against your human rights. Explain that you are getting advice from Birth rights (if this is the case) and you understand your legal stance.
Don't just accept no.
This is one of the biggest events in your life, please don't just accept it if someone says no. Ask why, ask to speak to the head of midwifery, get your doula or your partner to ask the questions too.
We all understand the seriousness behind Covid-19. We don't need it explaining anymore. However, weigh up the risks and try and find the balance. Hospital staff should be doing the same.
They should be looking at your case and saying;
What's the likely hood of this birthing party catching or spreading this virus?
Can we reduce this?
When was our last recorded case of Covid-19 on the ward?
More importantly they should be saying;
What are the risks to this mum if she does not feel safe in her pregnancy?
Trust me there can be some big risks; and for a lot of my mums the chances of suffering postnatally is much higher than catching Covid-19.
If you are struggling mentally - use perinatal.
I know I keep going on about the amazing perinatal teams out there but bear with me. If you are suffering with any form of mental heath complication, please use the perinatal as soon as possible within your pregnancy. Many mums think they spring into action after baby is born, but they can be called at any point during the pregnancy and can support you after the baby is born (for up to a year in England). They are brilliant at hearing your thoughts and worries and can provide a voice for you. For the clients that have used their perinatal team, the process of getting me into support a birth has been much smoother.
Does it work?
For my clients and I, it provides us with a window to try.
Put it this way, I have a birth in hospital coming up very soon which is being done alongside a partner. Start to finish. Its not my first since lockdown and wont be my last. This is the birth that was planned and this is the birth that was wanted.
It's my job to ensure that.
The long term benefits to the NHS
We are already starting to see an increase of mental health complications after birth. Not only are woman having to make some serious and scary choices regarding their pregnancy but they are then having to go home and face being isolated from family members.
It makes little to no sense to me putting added pressure on the NHS who are having to pick up on the rise of Postnatal Depression (Post Partum Depression), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety, all of which can be reduced by having a doula. The rise of cases will potential continue to increase and with a looming round two of Covid-19, resources will surly be strained further. Putting in something now and reinstating the two partner rule, could help to stabilize that risk.
This is not a dig
It's important to remember this is not an attack or a dig at our maternity service. They like so many others are working hard to adapt to difficult circumstances. However, its also easy the forget the doulas who have been out of work, struggling and trying to find a solution. Covid-19 is here to stay, its not suddenly going to disappear.
So at what point do you say; Enough is enough. I want my doula here!
Its up to you.
birthrights - Protecting human rights in childbirth