COVID-19 Official Response to Hospital Systems Restriction of Doula Care

Official Press Release: November 16, 2020

Dear Twin Cities Hospital System Representatives,

First, we want to thank you for your efforts to continue to allow doulas a presence in your hospital system. While we understand the complexity and severity of our rising COVID-19 numbers in the State of Minnesota we believe that doulas are an essential part of the birth team and that families should be entitled to a doula of their choosing. Recently several hospital systems announced their doula restrictions saying that laboring people are only allowed one visitor or labor support person. This is in direct conflict with their rights. Furthermore, we have been made aware of a hospital system (Allina) that has decided to make the ‘doula restriction’ further restrict people’s access to a doula of their choosing by requiring that doulas register with the hospital AND be certified.

It would be historically appropriate for a medical system to enforce certification for medical personnel who are present in their hospital, however doulas, by definition, are NOT medical providers of any kind and are not employed by or managed by the hospital. We are paraprofessionals and are regulated not by certification but by the families who wish to hire us as their support. There is common misinformation and misunderstanding around what a Professional Doula is and how they are trained and certified. We believe that Professional Doula is the most appropriate description fordoulas who should be welcomed by hospitals to support laboring families.

We define Professional Doulas as labor support people who have attended doula training and work as birth support astheir profession. This may mean they have a website, a business name, are part of a doula organization and/or get paid to attend births. A hospital restricting their patient’s access to professional birth support to ONLY certified doulas are enacting a policy that is inequitable, harmful, and illegal. The path to doula certification and maintaining certification is full of financial and logistical barriers that restricts BIPOC doulas and marginalized individuals from obtaining and holding
certification.

The certifying agencies that Allina is using as their list of ‘allowed’ organizations is dated and not exhaustive while also limited to only organizations that offer in person training historically, which at this time is not viable. This list is only used by the Minnesota Dept of Health for reimbursement to doulas who provide services to Medicaid patients and is a fraction of the total number of active working doulas in the Twin Cities. The list of certifying organizations also excludes the majority of BIPOC run and owned doula training organizations. Research shows that the support of a culturally congruent doula has significant impact on improving outcomes in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity especially for Black birthing people. Often doulas from marginalized groups are trained by organizations that are not in the provided “acceptable doula certification list.” Thus, this policy would negatively impact the very Black and Brown bodies research shows are at risk for racial disparities and much poorer outcomes in pregnancy and birth.

Although we are unsure how regulating certifying vs professional doulas is solving the issue of COVID-19 exposure, it is the stance of the Twin Cities Professional Doulas that if hospitals are trying to regulate birth support that they can simply state that all patients in labor and delivery can have one personal labor support plus a Professional Doula. If they are interested in vetting whether someone is a Professional Doula, they can ask to see proof of training. This would also have the added benefit of reducing extra work for hospital staff and remain racially and socio-economically equitable.

Finally, at a time where we are experiencing a historically large amount of unemployed people it is especially harmful to further restrict people’s ability to make an income in their profession. The majority of a Professional Doula’s clients are hospital birthing people, therefore when Allina and other hospitals restrict families’ access to Professional Doulas, they are also restricting people’s ability to make a livable income for themselves and their families.

We are open and available to be part of the policy wording and problem solving. Our goal is and always will be in promoting optimal outcomes for laboring people and their babies, which is undeniable with the support of a Professional Doula.

Sincerely,
Twin Cities Professional Doula Community


Childbirth Collective named “Best Prenatal Resource” by Minnesota Monthly Magazine!

We at the Childbirth Collective are THRILLED to have been named “Best Prenatal Resource” in the Twin Cities by Minnesota Monthly Magazine. What an honor, especially in an area so rich with amazing prenatal resources!

 

Here’s what they had to say about us:

BEST PRENATAL RESOURCE

The Childbirth Collective

The non-profit group of midwives, doulas, bodyworkers, and other birth professionals known as the Childbirth Collective is one of the best birthing resources in the Twin Cities. Their free, incredibly informative Parent Topic Nights—which help addled parents-to-be navigate the heretofore uncharted health-care and emotional waters of the childbirth year—separate information from rumor and dispel many pregnancy myths. The collective’s website hosts a wealth of information, including recommended books and DVDs, a comparison of local hospital birthing programs, and profiles of its members. Bonus: the husbands we know enjoyed the classes as much as the expectant mothers. • childbirthcollective.org


Welcome to a New Generation of Collective Thoughts!

The Childbirth Collective has been publishing this newsletter since 1998 and now we take a step into the world of blogs. We recently introduced a new website design (www.childbirthcollective.org) and, since much of our member information, as well as the schedule for Parent Topic Nights are featured there, we wanted to find a way to continue to offer the articles, birth stories and book reviews that have been included in the paper version of the newsletter. This blog replaces the thematic content that you used to find in the newsletter.

We will put out a blog post three or four times each year, with the same dedication to evidence based, best practice information for expectant families that you have come to expect from the Childbirth Collective. Our members are passionate about their work and about the challenge we face to help parents discover how to plan for, work toward and experience a birth that is personal and unique to their family. The mission of the Collective has not changed and we believe that by reaching out with the information in this blog, we can continue to encourage, inspire and enlighten parents as they uncover the hopes and dreams they have for their birth. The Collective is dedicated to giving parents the information to make informed choices about how, where and with whom to give birth, and this information has helped to change and enrich the birth community here in the metro area.

THE MISSION OF THE CHILDBIRTH COLLECTIVE IS TO ENHANCE THE CHILDBEARING YEAR FOR PARENTS BY PROMOTING QUALITY DOULA SUPPORT, ADVOCATING EVIDENCE-BASED CARE, AND PROVIDING ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION BASED ON THE WELLNESS MODEL OF MATERNITY CARE.

We hope you will join us on the next chapter of our adventure to offer support, options and a safe place to explore the facts, fictions, myths and fears around birth. Our deep trust in birth as a process and in a mother’s instinctual reaction to pregnancy, labor and birth allow us to create a safe environment for families hoping and planning for a normal, intervention free birth, a planned surgical birth and for everything in between. It is our hope that what you read here will make you curious about what a supported birth might mean to you or to someone you love. Consider this blog an invitation to join us at one of our Parent Topic Nights – no matter how you hope to give birth, you will find a community of support and enthusiasm for all aspects of birth.

Judith Nylander
President
The Childbirth Collective


Welcome to Collective Thoughts

The Childbirth Collective is proud to announce the newest member of our media family, the “Collective Thoughts” blog. Please stay tuned for articles, birth stories, and media links coming soon!


Current Doula Status of Twin Cities Hospitals during Covid-19