Lots of women use doulas to support them during pregnancy, but since the start of the pandemic, they’ve had to change the way they do things. First things first – what’s a ‘doula?’ A nonmedical professional, who coaches parents (especially expectant moms) through pregnancy, labor and the postpartum process. But with COVID restrictions, doulas aren’t always allowed to be in hospital delivery rooms with their clients. So they’re going virtual…and “Zoom doulas” are now a thing!
Instead of rubbing women’s backs and doing deep breathing exercises with them in person, the doulas are doing it on video calls. They’re able to support moms remotely and for moms like Safiya Barclay, it makes the birth experience better. She knew she wanted to have a doula’s support, but when she gave birth in the summer of 2020 – the height of the pandemic – no one was allowed in her delivery room, not even her husband or her doula. But she says having her doula there to virtual coach her “made the experience extremely comforting” and eased her anxiety.
And “Zoom doulas” are helping their clients beyond the birth experience. Talitha Phillips, a certified doula in Los Angeles, says her postpartum work has increased dramatically because so many new parents aren’t able to get support from their loved ones because of COVID. “Nothing replaces in-person relationships and advocacy, especially for low-income, at-risk, and minority women,” Phillips explains. “However, if it’s between no doula or remote, it’s definitely worth it to have extra support virtually.” So “Zoom doulas” could be here to stay.