‘Switching care at the last minute’: Changes at hospitals also forcing shifts in birth plans and delivery

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With COVID-19 bringing big changes to hospitals, there are also changes to childbirth protocol.

A pregnancy care center in Richmond says this pandemic is forcing parents to shift birth plans last-minute.

My Birth LLC says many hospitals are now allowing just one support person in the delivery room during the birth. Typically, that support person is the spouse, not an outside care provider.

“It is very different than anything we’ve had to deal with before,” said Amy Lavelle.

Lavelle and Emily Bruno own My Birth LLC. They have six birth doulas and three post-partum doulas in the group. Where a midwife provides medical care, a doula is an emotional and educational support system during the pregnancy and delivery process.

But these business owners say most of the hospitals in the region are no longer allowing doulas during delivery. The pair has supported nearly 300 births combined in the last 13 years, but now their hands-on jobs are forced to be hands-off.

“We’re used to being there in person,” said Lavelle. “That’s really where it’s important for us to be present.”

In this week alone, Bruno supported a mom in labor over the phone, when normally she would have been beside her in the delivery room.

“Not being able to be present and give that physical support is a very unique challenge,” said Bruno.

This shift also means moms-to-be are making big changes to birth plans in the final stretch before the baby arrives.

“Some are switching care at the last minute to a hospital that allows the doula to be there, some are switching to home births, some are switching to birthing centers,” said Lavelle.

These doulas say these changes and restrictions could last for months, and while this is their livelihood their main concern is mom’s having positive outcomes during delivery.

“Right now they have incredibly limited choices and options and most of the things that are available for them are very different than what they initially wanted for their births,” said Bruno.

My Birth LLC has also moved its birth classes online, including prenatal yoga, and they say during the pandemic fewer people are hiring doula support.

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