At the end of 2020, I shared my experience of becoming and working as a doula during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The start of this year has proven to be another challenging one. This has meant that a lot of parents-to-be and new parents have again been left without the in-person support they want and need during their new parenting journeys.
This was the case for many of my clients last year. As well as feeling isolated due to social restrictions many felt increased uncertainty about what maternal care and services were going to look like for them. They reached out for additional support which I was able to provide in different ways. As doulas we can continue to offer in-person support but for some, even having virtual support made them feel more secure.
One of the clients I provided virtual support for at the start of the pandemic has kindly shared her experience and what it felt like for her to have a doula after the birth of her second son.
“I was first introduced to Lorraine and the idea of a doula by a family friend during the Covid-19 pandemic. I was unsure as to what a doula was and how Lorraine could actually be a virtual help to me and my partner during the later stages of pregnancy and the birth of my second child.
I knew from previous experience that my support would be of better use after the birth of my son; I was booked in for my second elective caesarean on the 17th April so I knew what was going to happen during that time.
My biggest worry was that I would have no support from family or friends due to lockdown rules, so anxiety was at a very high level. I also suffered with postnatal depression after I had my eldest son, who is now three-and-a-half.
Lorraine very quickly got in touch with my local hospital and found out the Covid-19 guidelines and sent them as regularly as they were updated; to keep my mind at ease. There was nothing that she couldn't or wouldn't do to help me in my situation.
She set some dates and times for our video calls for when I thought I would specifically need them the most. I could also text / WhatsApp her at any time and she would always get back to me when she was available. This made me feel very at ease and as though I had an extra hand helping out.
Our regular video calls soon started to feel like a coffee with a friend. Lorraine is the most considerate, understanding, and down-to-earth person you could ever wish to have at the end of the phone, especially after going through such a strange time with unusual circumstances.
She made notes on our conversations which ensured that she didn't miss any of my concerns or questions and that she could respond to me with answers / guidelines or any help at all as quickly and effectively as possible. I would always receive an email with updates on the questions that I had asked her during our chats.
Tuesdays and Thursdays became my favourite days of the week because it meant that I could chat about my daily life as a new mum of two without any judgement or feeling like I was saying the wrong thing. I felt so comfortable and uplifted after every call.
Even through virtual means, it feels like she is there to help you with anything at all. I am genuinely so grateful for the time she gave me and the invaluable advice I have taken away from my experiences with her. I felt empowered to be stronger during a very emotional time and Lorraine helped me feel extremely grounded when my emotions of having a new born, and lockdown restrictions, were sky high and could have easily led me into feeling depressed; like after my previous birth experience.
I could not be more thankful for Lorraine, she truly is an angel and I could not recommend her enough to be part of anyone’s pregnancy journey. She is such a special person to offer her help to mum's during this difficult time.”
Supporting Hannah in this way, felt like it has with all my clients; a privilege. The distance did not diminish connection which is the most important part when offering and receiving support. I got to witness her change and grow into a wonderful confident mother of two beautiful boys, even through the screen.
This year I will be supporting a couple virtually during their birth. They shared with me their needs for support which included having someone in the room that could be calm, objective and also provide information as and when needed. But with lots of hospital trusts restricting the number of birth partners to one, they knew a physical presence may not be possible. For these parents-to-be, having the option to contact a doula during their birth is the reassurance they need. For me, the opportunity to work with new parents in this way is an honour but I also recognise it as important work. No one should be without the support they need.
But now there is light at the end of the tunnel and the work of doulas can continue to safely support people from a distance but also in person.