Supporting Labor Clients During COVID-19 Pandemic

Your CAPPA Labor Doula Faculty team would like to share some ideas for supporting your clients if hospitals are not allowing doulas to provide support during labor. Please remember that it is your professional responsibility to follow CDC recommendations including staying home if you have any type of illness symptoms, following proper hand washing protocols, and keeping up to date with any new developments.

Before Labor

  • Encourage your client to talk to their provider and birth location. They may need to explain why having a professional doula on their team is crucial for them.
  • Print a copy of your training certificate and/or certification certificate. Also print a copy of your invoice showing you are a contracted part of the birth team, not just a friend claiming to be a doula.
  • If you cannot attend the birth due to hospital policy, you may want to consider offering an additional prenatal appointment to go over comfort measures, affirmations, peanut balls, rebozo use, and/or how to communicate with medical staff.
  • Have clients ask about any parent-baby separation. If this is the policy, talk about ways to keep mother and baby together, expressing breastmilk regularly, or any other topics of concern.
  • If you client is nervous about giving birth in the hospital during this pandemic, you could have them ask their provider about earlier checkout after the birth.

During Labor

  • Make a plan on whether you will be supporting your laboring client at home before they head to the hospital. Discuss what this might look like and what they see your role being. Make sure you are following CDC recommendations as well.
  • Doulas could have support partner wear an ear bud and stay on a phone call with each other to talk through contractions, support comfort techniques, and to provide encouraging words.
  • Doulas could arrange times for regular check-ins. Facebook messenger has a video phone call option if you do not have that ability on your cell phone. Skype is also a great option.
  • Remind the family to call ahead to Labor and Delivery when they are on their way if necessary.

After the Birth

  • Continue checking in with your client often. Ask about the birth, breastfeeding/bottle feeding, any separations and what to do if that is happening, physical discomfort, and their overall emotional state.
  • You may want to do your postpartum visit earlier than planned or offer additional visits.
  • If you are also a postpartum doula, you may wish to add on a postpartum doula shift(s) in place of labor support. This may be especially useful instead of needing to offer a refund. (See below about refunds.)

Professional Suggestions

  • Remember that being kind is often more effective than being combative. In many areas, policies are not consistent from one hospital or provider to the next, or even from one day to the next. Try not to let your frustration show.
  • Do not bombard hospitals or providers with calls from doulas.
  • If you do not have wording in your contract for such events that are out of your control, you should consider adding that to your contract asap. You cannot change contracts already written, but you can protect yourself moving forward. Read through your current contracts and see what you have in place for a refund policy. Honor your contracts. If you do not have a contract lawyer, try searching for wording for “pandemic” or “acts of God”.
  • Do all you can to offer some level of support during labor, even if it is via phone calls.
  • If you client is wishing to change birth locations, offer recommendations for providers. Do not pressure or persuade your clients to choose a different option. Support their decisions that they make on their own.
  • Do not take it personally if your client is choosing to have their mother or sister or additional support person there instead of you. Respect your client’s wishes and continue your plan for support.

Finally, and most importantly, take care of yourself. During this season on unease and change, you may need to schedule time away from social media. Schedule time to practice yoga or meditation via YouTube. Cook some healthy food for yourself or chat with a friend on the phone. It is easy to be overwhelmed when many of us are taking care of so many people right now (kids at home, family that can’t visit, our clients, etc.)

Please post on CAPPA Connection if there are other ways you’ve found to support your clients, or if there are ways we can support YOU during COVID-19.


Click to download this image.Benefits of Doula Support in the Hospital for Health Care Colleagues (Click to view.  Feel free to share on social media!) ACOG Statement on Doula Support and Birth Outcomes (Click to view.  Feel free to share on social media!)

Katie Nyberg

CLD, CPD, CNPE, Faculty, Senior Program Advisor – Labor Doula Program

Katie Nyberg has served hundreds of mothers, partners, and families through her role as a birth doula, postpartum doula, and childbirth educator since 2010. She believes that our society is not supporting new mothers enough and has made it her mission to help provide the missing care for women during their childbearing years. Katie has been a part of CAPPA since 2015. She is excited to combine her passions for teaching and for supporting new mothers through her role as Postpartum Doula Trainer. Katie is a frequent speaker for mothers, families, and health care providers in Iowa. She has been featured in a doula magazine, Parents Magazine, and on her local television station.

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