It's been our reality for the last year; figuring out how to make things that typically happen with other people happen in isolation. Or near-isolation, at least, as many hospitals still won't allow a visitor/partner in L& D, and if they do, it's limited to one person--typically a woman's partner. This typically means that if you want a doula with you, virtually may be the only way in a hospital.

In an article from Today Parents, more moms are sharing how they've gotten the support of their doulas during pregnancy, even when the doulas were not allowed to be with them in person.

Giving birth in the height of the pandemic meant that many pregnant women giving birth in hospitals had to do so alone--not even their partners were allowed.

Enter Zoom, or other virtual technologies making it possible for virtual doula-ing.

Remote doulas have had to help women through labor, delivery and even postpartum periods through virtual platforms during the coronavirus, and that means that though different, women still have the ability to have support in the hospital. (It should be noted that homebirth rates skyrocketed during the last year due to the desire to have in-person connection during labor and delivery.)

Many doulas have reported their caseloads have significantly dropped during the pandemic as most hospitals still won't allow extra support people to be in delivery rooms. That said, postpartum doula-ing has risen, as mothers DO want whatever in-person connection they can have. Often away from family and even friends as a result of social distancing guidelines, mothers have turned to doulas during the postpartum period for support in record numbers.

Obviously, remote is not the optimal birthing experience, but many women say that when the option is virtual or nothing? They'll choose virtual.

According to the article, data shows doulas help decrease the risk of C-sections in the management of labor. Dr. Peace Nwegbo-Banks is an OB-GYN in Pearland Texas who says she happily welcomes doulas for this reason.

That said, when it comes to remote doula-ing, it can be a bit of a complication should Internet connection be lost--focus can be taken off or disrupted and a mother can face more stress without her doula.

Particularly for women who are part of lower-income or minority groups, remote doula care may help reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Historically and tragically lower than those of their white/non-Latinix counterparts, providing access to care for women of all income and race levels can be life-changing. Families who are insured by Medicaid have access to comprehensive doula care, which means that doula care does not have to be just for the privileged--it's a matter of getting the word out about options.

Many doulas believe that though mothers obviously prefer in-person doula experiences, the ability to do interviews and check-ins remotely is certainly nice. Some believe that a hybrid of remote and in-person care will be a new norm--with text and video options making sure that mothers have the access to care that they need no matter what.