Recently I had one of my families go into labor knowing I wouldn’t be able to join them at the hospital. This was upsetting for everyone but this did not change my availability to them or my ability to support them. It did, however, require a bit more preparation. We had a specific prenatal visit going over everything they would need to know and a document/list of things they should do/have at home and at the hospital.
When labor started, it was just like any other labor and birth. Sabrina and I were instantly in contact and I helped recommend things to get her on a good trajectory for the upcoming journey of labor and birth. She was able to labor at home with her husband Pat and we stayed in contact the entire time she was at home and at the hospital.
I missed the moments that I knew my hands or words would be positive influences on her labor, I would be lying if I didn’t think in person doula work was better, but together her husband, Pat, and I worked together. We spoke via text a lot using pictures of positions to keep Sabrina feeling confident and comfortable and were able to guide her through labor into pushing and bringing her baby in to her arms. I continued this same virtual support throughout postpartum, helping with breast feeding and answering questions that often come with being at home for the first time with a newborn.
Virtual doula support isn’t my first choice, but given our current circumstances it’s our only choice. I see first hand how effective a doula’s role is with their families, even virtually. I am so proud of Sabrina and Pat! They truly were an amazing couple.
My husband, Patrick, and I had the pleasure of working with Willow as our doula during my first pregnancy. She was unable to be part of the birth in person due to recent visitor restrictions at the hospital but she proved to be an amazing asset during all phases of labor as a virtual birth doula.
She was 100% available when I let her know my contractions were picking up and that I think I’m in early labor. She was coaching my husband during the entire early labor at home through texting and phone from 4pm until we left to the hospital at 2 am. My husband jokes that he had to keep saying “willow says…” to convince me to try different positions and coping strategies 😂. It gave me a lot of comfort to know her expertise and confidence was being transferred virtually, that she thought things were progressing normally, and that I was doing a good job.
During active labor at the hospital my husband was able to keep in contact with Willow and he felt equipped to work with the nurses – she helped him gauge where I was at in labor, gave him guidance around when to switch positions, and most importantly when to offer different cues /encouragement be it around breathing, moving, not giving up etc. There were lots of moments Willow popped up in my head and one of the most distinct was her coaching me during our prenatal visits to welcome intensifying contractions instead of trying to fight them as they are leading to change and progress in labor of some kind. It sounds simple but her reminding us of that multiple times at the end of pregnancy really helped us welcome the progressive intensify day of.
We would’ve loved to share the experience of our sons birth with her in person of course but we felt connected to her the whole time regardless. I feel strongly that the work we did virtually together during pregnancy and early labor set my husband and I up to have all of the tools we needed for a successful unmedicated vaginal delivery. She’s been wonderful postpartum as well in recapping the birth with me, offering FaceTime support , texting support , etc for things like breastfeeding troubleshooting, general questions re:healing, and overall making herself available to support us during this major transition.