Tag Archive for: covid-19

At the very beginning of our Complete Childbirth Education classes in Baltimore, we ask you to fill in sentences about how you feel about birth. While “I am nervous about…” is definitely not the same for everyone, over the last year, COVID-19 has made expecting parents nervous. And it brings up lots of questions for new moms: What does coronavirus mean for a hospital stay? Could baby meet grandma and grandpa? Who will be able to help me after delivery? 

Although 2020 was totally unexpected, at Doulas of Baltimore, we’ve tried to keep the safe, nurturing, and smart perspective we’ve had serving you for the last 7 years. As things are slowly getting back to normal, we wanted to share how 4 lessons from our CBE classes helped us get through this past year. 

Need to Make a Decision? Use Your B.R.A.I.N.!

Use your B.R.A.I.N is a philosophy we use in class. When making a decision, think about benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, and what would happen if you did nothing. At the very beginning of the pandemic, we used this philosophy to think about what services we could safely offer to you all. While we’ve always known the benefits of comprehensive support, there were many risks involved in continuing in-person classes and doula support. Our intuition (and clients and friends who work in medicine) helped us make the call to move all of our support to an alternative – virtual classes and support – until it was safe to be in person again. 

Confidence and Support Help Get Us Through

Doulas are experts who provide steadfast and nonjudgemental support to you and your family during pregnancy, labor, and after baby arrives. While our classes continued with all of the regular topics, we also dealt with the most pressing issue: navigating the obstacles of COVID. What is the absolute need-to-know information? How can we help make this a less stressful situation in a very stressful climate? Like in all of our classes, we focused on evidence-based information and provided straight talk about birth and postpartum care in the pandemic. We also used that same evidence-based information to make decisions about how to run our business and what we could safely offer to clients. 

Take a Deep Breath 

Was that a contraction? A real contraction? Or just pre-labor? In our classes, we always go over the stages of labor  and how to tell the difference. Over this past year, each time a wave of infections started coming down and businesses started opening up, it was almost like Braxton Hicks contractions. They are stressful, because you are trying to figure out if they are real or not, but ultimately, they are not the real thing. 

When we went virtual, we wanted to wait until it was safe and realistic to provide in person support again, and we wanted to know the difference between pre-labor and real labor. The last thing we wanted to do was tell a client, “Yes, we can be with you in the hospital,” and then back out. Now, as vaccinations are available for everyone, case numbers remain low, and hospitals have permanently re-opened for professional doula support, we can offer in-person support again. 

Adapting is Key

If you’ve been in one of our classes or been pregnant, you know: labor takes many paths. And what you want to do is know the unexpected situations and what to do about them. No one knew what 2020 would bring us or when, and adapting to the ever-changing scenarios has become key to keeping our support going. We were able to bring classes to a virtual space, and some aspects of online meeting and learning are great (including no commutes on weeknights!). This is one reason we plan to continue to offer some classes online in the future. However, some things such as comfort measures, are hard to teach over Zoom. And, a big part of what we do is supporting you during and after birth, in person. So, we are adapting again. This fall, we will be offering a few classes in person in addition to our online Complete Childbirth Education class, and we have begun working one-on-one with families in person again for both birth doula support and in-home postpartum and newborn care

You can find out more about our classes here and contact us to find out more about in person doula support this summer and fall. 

If you are pregnant right now or trying to become pregnant, you might be asking yourself, “Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?” or “Should I get a booster?” Pregnant women are often excluded from drug and clinical trials because the potential risk is often too high, and this was this case with the COVID vaccine trials. According to an article published last year in the New York Times, “Scientists have accumulated a small but steadily growing body of evidence that the vaccines are safe and effective during pregnancy.” Boosters  At Doulas of Baltimore, we encourage you to make decisions regarding your pregnancy and birth that make you feel comfortable and are grounded in the best information available. Here are 5 things you should know about pregnancy and the COVID vaccines (as of January 2022). 

Pregnant women have an increased risk of severe disease after a COVID-19 infection. 

In a study conducted in 2020, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) researchers analyzed data on 1.3 million women ages 15-44 who were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They found that, “pregnant women were at increased risk for severe COVID-19–associated illness.” Pregnant women were more likely to be admitted to the ICU and receive invasive ventilation. Although they are not sure why this is, they speculate it could be because your body is working harder when you are pregnant– including “increased heart rate and oxygen consumption, decreased lung capacity, a shift away from cell-mediated immunity.” Another study found that pregnant women who contracted COVID were at an increased risk for preterm birth. 

A COVID vaccine booster is safe for pregnant people.

If you received your first two shots of the vaccine before you were pregnant, you may now be wondering if you should be get a booster shot. Doctors are now recommending that people who are pregnant get the booster or third shot of a vaccine if they are eligible. Because pregnant people have an increased risk of severe disease if they get COVID, it is important to keep yourself as protected as possible. Dr. Brian Brimmage of the University of North Carolina health system says that,“Obviously, a pregnant woman getting seriously ill with COVID is dangerous for her and her baby.”

A recent study shows the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines produce an immune response in pregnant and lactating women. 

Although pregnant women had this higher risk of severe disease, they were not included in any of the clinical trials for vaccines conducted last year. However, when the vaccine rollout started, some of the healthcare workers who received the vaccine were unknowingly pregnant at the time. Researchers could then track and monitor those women, and additional studies began specifically enrolling pregnant women. 

The CDC now writes that you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you are pregnant. In a study of 103 women, researchers found that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines gave women an immune response (meaning the vaccine did what it was supposed to) and antibodies to COVID-19 were present in breast milk and cord blood. 

When administered during pregnancy, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not damage the placenta. 

An early conspiracy theory regarding the COVID vaccines and pregnancy involved the idea that it might damage the placenta. A study just published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that COVID “vaccination was not associated with placental histopathologic lesions,” meaning it did not damage the placenta. 

STAT news now reports that, “Three of the leading professional organizations focused on pregnancy and fertility — the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine — all recommend that pregnant people get vaccinated, as well as those considering pregnancy.”

Protect yourself against COVID-19. 

If you don’t want to get the vaccine right now, the CDC recommends taking steps to reduce your risk of contracting COVID. This includes all the key recommendations from the last year: wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, not spending time indoors with poor ventilation, washing your hands, and keeping physical distance. 

At Doulas of Baltimore, we support the decisions that you make during pregnancy, without judgement. This blog post is not intended as medical advice, but provides some information about the latest research and commentary from the government and professional organizations regarding the efficacy and safety of COVID vaccines on pregnant women. As with all of your pregnancy and birth decisions, you should consult with your doctor before making any decisions about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Greetings DOB family, 

You may have noticed that we have been pretty quiet over the past year. As doulas and entrepreneurs we are well-versed in being flexible and living in the moment, while always keeping an eye on planning for the future. All of that still did not quite prepare us for living through a pandemic. Like so many small businesses (and families), the past year did not look anything like we had planned for. We hunkered down with our own families, continuously evaluated and reevaluated how we could be of service to expectant parents, and simply made it through as best we could. 

We remain committed to what we do, while adapting to how we do it. We want to share with you how we shifted our business over the last year, and what we are planning for the rest of 2021 and into the future. 

In the early days of March 2020, while watching and listening to former clients and friends who work in medicine and epidemiology, we decided not to wait for the inevitable decision to be made for us and opted to suspend all in-person support and classes. 

We set  to work immediately, transitioning doula clients to virtual support and fashioning internet-based childbirth classes and parenting workshops. We knew that between the news cycle and long days of working from home, we could not expect people to have the same attention span. We distilled our usual content down to the truly “need to know” information and provided students with videos and other supplemental materials. 

Our classes also dealt with the most pressing issue: navigating the obstacles of COVID. How can we help make this a less stressful situation? As is always our approach, we focused on evidence-based information and provided straight talk about birth and postpartum care in the pandemic. 

We did not want to add more uncertainty into the lives of our clients (or our doulas) by going back and forth between in-person and virtual doula support. We knew that the situation was ever-changing, so with few exceptions, we have only been offering entirely virtual support over the last year. 

At the end of 2020, we did not know what the future held for DOB. Like many other small business owners, we asked ourselves, how much longer can we do this? We had some serious and difficult conversations. In the end, our commitment to Baltimore families felt bigger than our struggles. Thanks in part to grants and other pandemic related support, we’ve been able to take the time to think about what we offer and how we offer it, and plan for the future. 

The real turning point came this spring, when our doulas were able to be vaccinated and hospitals began allowing an additional professional support person in labor and delivery again.  

We have fine-tuned our popular virtual Complete Childbirth and Baby 101 classes. We are planning a couple of limited-size in-person classes later in the year. With hospitals allowing professional doula support in addition to a partner, we have doulas who are fully vaccinated and are available to attend a birth in person for this summer. And our in-home doula support and newborn care has been re-worked with COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Take care and thank you for continuing to support us as we help Baltimore families thrive,

Emily & Debbie 

Are you pregnant and worried about how COVID-19 will affect your pregnancy care and birth? We have been reading all we can. Of course, the available information is new and constantly changing. 

Our goal is to provide you with solid resources so that you can have answers you are looking for while cutting out all the extra static.

As of now (3/21/2020), we have located two informative pieces that cover a lot of expectant parents’ concerns:

Please let us know what questions you have and share with us any links or information that you have found particularly helpful. 

As for Doulas of Baltimore, we have moved to virtual childbirth classes and virtual birth doula support. Our in-home postpartum support is on a brief pause as our doulas and clients get through a minimum of 14 days of social isolation and then schedule in person support of a case by case basis. **

We know the services and resources we offer are needed, in this time more than ever, and want to ensure that we continue to deliver professional, consistent support to the expectant and new families in the Baltimore area. This will not look like you had been imaging but together we can help relieve some of your worries.

** UPDATE 04/01/2020: We have redesigned our services to meet the current needs of expectant and new families during this time. We are now offering three separate options for doula support during this time of social distancing – Pregnancy Support, Virtual Birth Support, and Newborn Care Support. More information is available on our Virtual Doula Support page.