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20 Mar 2020

How To Offer Virtual Doula Support: Birth Work During COVID

By The DTI team

What does it look like to offer birth support during a pandemic? In light of barriers the birth world is facing during COVID-19, we’d like to offer some evergreen support and tips on going virtual with your practice.

Here are 5 things to look at when determining how to offer online doula support.

1. First, remember to check yourself.

How is this affecting you? Your family and your work? How are you feeling emotionally? From there, structure your capacity as a birth worker and determine how you can factor this into the way you engage with clients.

If you can’t or don’t want to be present at the birth, can you do more prenatal and postpartum visits online? Are you mid-contract with a client? If so what does going virtual change? And—ultimately—how are you going to set fees moving forward?

Editor’s Note: DTI held a live panel exploring some of the barriers doulas are facing as a result of COVID-19 measures. You can tune into a recap of that discussion here.

2. Set up your virtual support system.

What does it look like for you to offer doula support online? What platforms can you use to communicate easily with your clients? (DTI typically uses Zoom, because the sessions can be recorded, there are integrations to provide captioning, etc.)

3. Determine what changes about the way you communicate.

If you’re moving online, the way you communicate with your clients will likely change. You’ll need to set expectations and ensure the pivot is a positive one that they’re comfortable with. Reach out to your clients, so they know the path forward and have options to engage with you. When it’s time to host a virtual support session, be sure you cover all the basics, too like sending login instructions, appropriate links and a calendar invite.

4. Create a safe space for your clients.

Set up your work space. Think about your Wifi access, background noise, light and backdrop. Ground yourself before a session. Also—keep a positive take on this type of support. For example: “This is so exciting to offer doula support over my computer” versus “Oh, I wish I was there to help you!”

5. Lean on the Slow Doula Method.

DTI created a tool called the Slow Doula Method® (SDM®) to help doulas have the skills to take action steps in owning their role as effective and compassionate change makers in today’s birth climate. SDM® is a strategy—it helps you slow down, center your communication, connect with your clients, remain self-aware and discern the dynamics at a birth with the intention of humanizing the birth experience.

In light of COVID-19, we opened our Slow Doula Method® virtual course free to the community and were thrilled that over 1K doulas signed up to take the course!

[Although the free window has closed, you can sign up for the Slow Doula Method® course for just $37.]

Keep up with us.

We know the past few weeks have been tough on the birth world community. We’ve been navigating social distancing, shelter-in-place restrictions and the financial fears and health worries of COVID-19—all of which put a strain on in-person birth support in hospital and private settings. If you’re looking for support during World Doula Week around going virtual and navigating COVID-19, you can sign up to attend a free community call (full schedule on our calendar). You can also read our blog post on providing virtual doula support here.

As we receive more and more information from the CDC and World Health Organization regarding COVID-19 recommendations, we’ll update you and our community about changes at Doula Trainings International (DTI)BORN INTO THIS and/or barriers to expect within the birth world. In the meantime, please take care of yourself and others. Beyond facing coronavirus, so many of us are home with children, saddled with financial fears or navigating other barriers at this time. Compassion, empathy and a helping hand (from a distance) go a long way right now.

— Team DTI (@doulatrainingsint)

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