I’m A Doula. Here’s What’s Happening to Mothers Giving Birth During This Crisis

Image via Shutterstock

By Nilma Black

March 26, 2020

Pregnant women are being forced to choose between solitude or home delivery due to coronavirus.

The worldwide pandemic is demystifying an ancient tradition that has been bastardized by a capitalist medical machine. With the intensity of the last few weeks, it now seems like the establishment and popular opinion are both pointing in a single direction: Is homebirth the best or only choice for birth during these uncertain times?

I gave birth at home twice. Those magical, pivotal moments changed my life and led me to become a birth doula and founded Babu Village. After having attended many home births with my friend and colleague Vanessa Caldari, professor-midwife and the founder of Centro MAM I believe home birthing is the safest way to give birth under normal circumstances. This is not the same for everyone, though. While some women feel safer in a hospital setting, others feel like birthing centers are the answer. Maybe if we had more of the latter so today’s situation would have a more logical solution. But that’s a big maybe.

Here is the thing, midwives are trained for all types of birth emergencies with a complete set of tools to make home birth a safe experience for everyone involved.

Now with an unforeseen focal point on this black swan aka COVID-19, we encounter a scenario where many birth professionals have not been trained for this specific pandemic. There are constantly changing protocols that should be considered, and new safety guidelines to attend clients. The outbreak and the lack of resources in many hospitals to assist the expecting mothers are creating an unusually high demand for deliveries for midwives.

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Women are giving birth alone in hospitals and have to choose home birth out of fear as if it is being forced upon them. Many women feel much safer in a hospital environment. With medical staff and the world’s most advanced equipment ready and waiting in case of an emergency, some mothers feel comforted,  this brings them the peace of mind they need at, perhaps, the most vulnerable time in their lives. 

Birthing Centers Are Essential To Create A Solution.

The birthing method is not a decision that should be taken out of fear. The priority of birthrights has been taken by the insurance industry and the medical institution. Highly functioning and successful centers have been closing in major cities all over the U.S. for no other reason than corporate greed. This has left moms, midwives and doulas hanging when it comes to offering their moms the choice of going to a hospital with a conscious delivery approach, home birthing or a clinical birth. 

Midwives need to be introduced as an alternative to mothers in every hospital, and to be as included as the medical staff. After all, midwives have always been on the front lines of every disaster. 

After Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017, and then earthquake on January 6, 2020, I witnessed how Vanessa and her team from Centro MAM ran into the fire to protect and support families of all backgrounds. Together, we served more than 1,000 families at risk.  

Image via Kyle Black.

Bottom line is, we need to support and fund home birth midwives. We need to ensure they have access to the tools they need for the upcoming emergencies coronavirus is bringing our way. 

Midwives are healthcare professionals. They are the unsung heroes at the forefront of every natural disaster. Doulas are an irreplaceable piece of the equation. We are that guide, helper, friend and coach that moms prefer to have during pregnancy, at birth and postpartum. My dream is that every baby, every mom receives the attention they deserve at such a beautiful time of their new lives. 

We owe it to our mothers to feel fully supported. Women and babies need all the support they can get and what we need to do is find ways—even if scrappy given the circumstances— that can keep them together in these uncertain times. Whether you choose home birth or a birthing center, make sure everyone keeps a tight and safe protocol. 

Here’s how you can support homebirth professionals in Puerto Rico and NYC.




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