Amy Kranz 0

Keep Doulas in SE Wisconsin Hospitals!

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Dear Southeast Wisconsin hospital policy makers:

We appreciate your attendance to this important matter for the health of women and newborns in our community. We are in solidarity with you in support of pregnant, birthing and postpartum people and their babies.

As professional birthworkers, doulas in Southeast Wisconsin provide much needed prenatal and labor support in both the hospital and out-of-hospital setting. We are very concerned that hospital policy may restrict doulas from providing professional support to patients in hospital.

According to the CDC, current guidelines for COVID-19 include this specific instruction: “If restriction of all visitors is implemented, facilities can consider exceptions based on end-of-life situations or when a visitor is essential for the patient's emotional well-being and care.”

As doulas, our clients hire us specifically to provide emotional, physical and informational support in an unfamiliar institutional setting that carries its own well- documented and well- reported risks to birthing persons and their babies. As ACOG has acknowledged: “Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.” COVID-19 does not change the inherent risk of giving birth in the USA, but doulas do.

This week, AWHONN formally reiterated their stance on Doula Care during the current pandemic:

AWHONN’s Position on Doulas with Patients During COVID-19

-AWHONN recognizes that doula services contribute to the woman’s preparation for and

support during childbirth and opposes hospital policies that restrict the presence

of a doula during a woman’s active labor.

“Doulas are not visitors and should not be blocked from caring for patients in the antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum period. Most doulas have been contracted by patients weeks to months ahead of time and have established provider relationships. They are recognized by AWHONN and ACOG as essential personnel and part of the maternity care team,” said AWHONN member Nancy Travis, MS, BSN, RN, BC, CPN, CBC, Florida Section Chair.

-AWHONN supports doulas as partners in care and acknowledges their ability to provide physical, emotional, and partner support to women. AWHONN opposes hospital policies that restrict the presence of a doula in the inpatient setting during an infectious disease outbreak.

In closing, we hope you will strongly reconsider any policy that considers banning professional labor support. We have been providing labor support to your patients in your hospital for over 30 years, during flu season, SARS, H1N1, etc., and we strongly value the safety and health of our clients, your patients, and your staff.

As a group, we are committed to:

-Vigilant hand washing/sanitizing

-Staying home when sick

-Using back-up as needed

-Wearing protective clothing, gloves, masks, etc as needed

-Respecting the property of the hospital

-Practicing social distancing from hospital employees/patients

-Not bringing bags or tools into the hospital setting

-Other hospital protocol concerning patient safety

Our clients use doulas for very specific and personal reasons, and we hope you continue to support parents’ ability to negotiate care with true autonomy and shared decision-making, including the freedom to access professional labor support.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

In shared support,

Signed by:

Amy Kranz, PhD, DONA-trained birth doula

Martha Girard-Wasserman, certified doula x 2, Doula Woman LLC

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