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Health Team

Women in labor turn to virtual support during coronavirus pandemic

Posted March 31, 2020 6:15 a.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2020 4:23 p.m. EDT

The risks for expectant mothers during the pandemic now has hospitals limiting birth options, including the support of a doula.

Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, New York hospitals began implementing restrictions. Among them, pregnant mothers coming to hospitals to deliver their babies could not have a birth partner present -- including their husbands.

Ashleigh Harlow of Durham, now 36 weeks pregnant, learned restrictions in Triangle hospitals weren't as strict. She could have her husband present, but not her doula, Samantha McClellan.

As a doula with Carolina Doula Collective, McClellan offers clients prenatal education and postpartum support as well as coaching and comfort during labor and delivery. The new restrictions forced McClellan and her team to adapt.

"We have had to make a transition to providing virtual services like so many industries right now," McClellan​​​​​​​ said.

Now, she will use FaceTime or another video service to help Harlow on her delivery date.

"We'll have her virtual support," Harlow said. "We hope, if everyone is well and it's reasonable, we'll have her in person support at home [during the early stages of labor] and then we'll just go on to the hospital without her."

McClellan​​​​​​​ said Carolina Doula Collective also offers virtual education through webinars. The videos reach a wider population of families preparing for pregnancy as well as those already expecting.

"We want them to know that they do have support, and that they do have a lot of options and resources that are still available to them," McClellan​​​​​​​ said.

Insurance should cover lactation services, as it is considered preventative under the Affordable Care Act.

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