Birth doulas in the Tulsa area said they are finding unique ways to support women during labor. New parents said nobody should have to choose between having their birth support expert or a loved one in the labor room.
Several Tulsa area hospitals continue to limit the amount of people allowed in the delivery room. In many cases, doulas are considered visitors versus a part of the birth team, forcing pregnant women to decide whether their one guest will be someone they know or someone who knows what they are doing.
"I'm pretty useless overall in this environment,” new father Josh Lade said. "I would choose the doula every time."
Lade said he and his wife could not have done it without their doula's support.
"We hit about hour 18 and, I think, and it was hell,’” Josh Lade said. “Like it was tough, and I just had to leave the room.”
Some women are choosing to have an outside of hospital birth or are laboring at home longer and using virtual support once they arrive at the hospital.
For Brooke Lade, it was a no-brainer. She used a birthing center.
"Ultimately, it is her experience and she should be able to have that support and care and love and all of the extra whatever she needs,” Brooke Lade said.
Taryn Starkey is a certified doula.
"We really thrive in person and that personal connection that you've made with someone who's supporting you through such a big change is important,” Starkey said. “Holding a hand. You can’t hold someone’s hand over the phone. You can't really go grab a cold towel for someone and put it on their head through video chat. You can't help them get into a different position because the position that they're in isn't working."
Hillcrest Medical Center is one of the hospitals that is allowing doulas to be a part of the labor process. It released a statement to News on 6.
“Hillcrest Medical Center (HMC) welcomed doulas into our facility to support our birthing patients prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Often times, the doula and pregnant patient have built a relationship throughout the pregnancy – with that rapport established, doulas offer a tremendous amount of emotional and physical support. Doulas are present and involved during the labor process and provide comfort to the patient with pain relief techniques, breathing and relaxation methods, massage, and assist with laboring positions and movement. The doula also advocates for the birthing person to assist with meeting the specific desires the patient has for the labor and birth experience. At HMC, we did not want our patients to miss out on the many benefits provided when a doula is present for labor and birth, which is why the decision was made early on in the pandemic to continue to allow a chosen support person and a doula for childbirth. Patients who desire a vaginal birth after having a previous cesarean section also receive many benefits from working with a doula. HMC has a high success rate with VBAC births. At the end of March, HMC is implementing a national quality improvement project called TeamBirth. TeamBirth will greatly utilize and incorporate the doula in a more formal manner as part of the team caring for the birthing person.”
The Lades told News On 6 that having a doula present was the best decision they could have made.
"Kind of magical to have all of this feminine energy,” Brooke Lade said.
Josh said he is grateful for the support and loved sharing this memory with his wife.
"I was great. It was something I'll never forget,” Josh Lade said.