COVID-19 Virtual Doula support

‘Devondoula: Doulaing you from a distance’

It’s difficult to describe the challenges of the current situation we face with the COVID-19 virus, but if you’re pregnant at the moment, particularly with your first baby, this may be an immensely difficult time for you and your partner. With face-to-face antenatal support being reduced, and advice to pregnant women to stay at home, it’s hard to see how your needs for support and the company of others in a similar situation (being pregnant) can be met. With so much uncertainty you may have many questions; you (and your partner) may need someone to hold a safe space for you in which to explore how you’re feeling, someone to help you to develop confidence and curiosity in responding to what lies ahead.

That’s where I come in as your virtual doula, to be that ‘someone’ with the knowledge and experience of supporting birthing individuals and partners through pregnancy and childbirth. As your virtual doula I offer advice, information, and emotional support; we negotiate how best to meet your needs through various forms of remote communication, such as text, email, and phone/video calls. I am accessible to you throughout your pregnancy, through your labour if you wish, as far as contraints allow. My support continues in the days and weeks following the birth of your baby, without the restrictions of distance or the risks associated currently with face-to-face contact. I travel alongside you as your guide, and help you navigate the many twists and turns on your path towards the birth of your baby.

I can be on hand to answer questions after the midwife or hospital appointment that leaves you feeling uncertain about the way forward, or when you feel overwhelmed by all the information out there, and just want someone to listen to your thoughts and feelings about your forthcoming labour and birth. I am committed to enabling you to connect to your birthing wisdom, so that you can be guided by and learn to trust your instincts. I help you find answers to your questions, and together we devise strategies and develop tools to alleviate your anxieties and increase your confidence about what lies ahead. Through working together, I want you (and your partner) to feel empowered to embrace childbirth with confidence, to emerge as new parents with positive memories of your experience.

What you can expect from me as your Virtual Antenatal/Birth Doula

I will support you via video link, phone call or other remote means that we will agree.

My Role

  • I agree to attend two remote antenatal meetings and one remote postnatal meeting with you, as well as being present remotely as a support during the birth. I do not purport to act as a midwife and I agree that my role is supportive and that I will at all times be guided by your birth plan, decisions, needs and wishes
  • As part of this contract, I will be available for consultations via telephone, text messages and email from when you engage me until six weeks after birth. I agree to be on-call from week 38 of the pregnancy

Your Wishes

You understand and agree that I will provide:

  • two remote antenatal sessions and consultations (by email or telephone up until the start of the on-call period at week 38), and one remote postnatal session
  • support from the beginning of the on-call period through to the start of your labour
  • remote support during labour and birth
  • I can send you distance Reiki throughout our work together and through your labour

About me

I am Devondoula, an independent and self-employed doula with six years experience. I have recent experience of providing remote doula support to a couple, both antenatally and postnatally, and I am currently providing a complete remote doula support package to a second couple.

I am a Recognised Doula, registered with Doula UK, and I follow Doula UK guidance in my practice. In 2018 I completed Second Degree in Reiki Method of Natural Healing (Usui Shiki Ryoho) administered by Reiki Mater Catherine Louis Booth. I have professional insurance cover provided by Holistic Insurance Services.

I regularly update my professional knowledge on relevant research and practice. As your virtual antenatal/birth doula I use my knowledge and experience to help you make informed, evidence-based choices and decisions about your labour and birth, and the time immediately following birth.

Confidentiality and information sharing

Whilst working as your doula I understand you may discuss or disclose personal information to me. I keep your information confidential, except in a situation where I am required by law to share such information; for example, where there is a safeguarding concern. Otherwise any information you provide about you or another person shall not be given directly (or indirectly) to a third party without your express permission.

As a Virtual Doula I DO NOT

  • Give medical advice
  • Advise on natural/complementary remedies during pregnancy, labour and early parenting
  • Express opinions or make decisions for you; my role is to enable you to make informed decisions for yourself

I encourage you to take responsibility for your choices around the birth, parental style or feeding method you feel is right for your you and your baby

Testimonials

A grandmother gives feedback on being supported by Hilary in her role as birth companion for her daughter:

I want to share my thanks to Hilary for helping us (grandmother and parents) to process a disappointing first birth (2016) and to prepare for the second one which took place in October 2018 in Salt Lake City USA. As a longtime friend of Hilary I was delighted and relieved to be able draw on her experience and knowledge as a doula in readiness for being a member of the birth team again.   

The first birth ended in a C section, despite making it to full dilation without assistance, because very late on the baby was discovered to be breech. The hospital staff was risk averse and not in touch with UK evidenced informed practice, such as immediate skin to skin contact, seeding and allowing the mother to take time. I had chosen home births for my children because I know how important the birth is for mother and baby. The information I gained from HIlary reminded them of this and, though they definitely didn’t want a home birth, they began to think seriously about which hospital to choose for the delivery of their second child.   

Early on in the second pregnancy I had a long telephone discussion with Hilary about what would make a difference second time round.  When I visited a few months later she gave me a book to read and links to research findings to answer some of my questions.  I ordered the book for the parents and summarised the material I’d looked at to make it quick and easy for them to access.  On arrival at their home in Salt Lake City in October I discussed where and when I should be assertive during the birth.  They had read the book and had used it to prepare a very clear birth plan with symbols which were clear for everyone.  The baby came 10 days early and was born normally with the help of an epidural.  I cut the umbilical cord once the baby had all the blood it needed.  The midwives were supportive and the routine tests were done an hour later once the parents were ready. He continues to thrive. 

For me Hilary’s help meant that;

the materials selected were tailored for me and my daughter for a second birth in her unique circumstances. This helped me inform myself and them quickly and effectively. This resulted in a clear picture for them of the birth they wanted and helped them choose the hospital most likely to provide it.

the Birthplan was clear for me to support, as well as for the hospital.  The plan came directly from the recommended book using the tools provided.

Reading and talking to Hilary enabled me to identify what I needed to know and to consolidate my knowledge. 

My daughter recognised the importance of getting the right information from me: 

‘Thanks…with all your research that helped us with the birth and helped us be more informed on the day’  

A big thank you Hilary! 

Janet W 

December 2018