Being involved in the birthing world as a Birth Doula, a Childbirth Educator, and a Postpartum Doula, for the past 22 years, I have seen firsthand how parents are navigating their way towards having a baby. In most circumstances this is a time to celebrate, to connect with other expecting parents, to build a community, to find caregivers to support your journey, to anticipate family and friends enjoying all you go through with you and to count on them to be there to help once your baby arrives. However, this pandemic has managed to affect all our life experiences, including, and maybe most especially having a baby. Now I get to witness expecting and new parents feeling overwhelmed, isolated, cut off, unsupported, and even at times, alone as they must adapt to the world of restrictions.
We have pregnant moms going to ultrasounds without their partner, going to their doctors or midwives’ appointments without family or having to find childcare because their other children are not allowed to attend either. I have heard of the doula they hired and connected with and put their trust into turned away at the hospital door, because the charge nurse wants to interpret the restrictions for herself. I have seen far too many examples of grandparents not seeing their new grandchild on anything except a computer screen, unable to travel, to hold their new little one or help the new, overwhelmed parents, who must instead do it on their own.
We have lost, in large part, the ability to fully embrace the term “It takes a village” because the village is not allowed to participate. I mourn this loss for all those expecting and new parents. I hope for a day soon where this will no longer be necessary. However, for today, I hope that we can create safe avenues for these parents to participate in community classes, to have their trusted support structure invited into their birth space, to have family, friends, and professional support for them after the baby is born.
We, as birth workers, want to be able to do what we do best, to put our arms figuratively and literally around the parents as they anticipate and enter a stage in their life that is pivotal and life changing. This stage does not happen without struggle, exhaustion, and doubt, and therefore should never be expected to be done alone.
We stand with you today and everyday