Zoom classes. Virtual happy hour. Remote team meetings.
The world’s gone virtual in so many ways, from entertainment to education to work, but one key virtual resource that we’ve been overlooking is especially important to pregnant and postpartum parents: virtual doulas.
A virtual doula can be a way for new parents to get the support that they need at home to stay healthy and take care of their baby. And thanks to a certain virus that will go unnamed, virtual doulas have become more popular than ever. Could a virtual doula be right for you? Let’s take a closer look at what exactly virtual doulas can offer.
What is a Doula?
First things first: what exactly is a doula? Mandy Major, PCD(DONA) and CEO/Co-Founder of Major Care, a virtual doula agency, explains that a doula is a trained, non-medical postpartum expert whose primary role is to support the parent during the transition to parenthood. That may be anything from answering a question on feeding to providing advice to just being a listening ear. Think about the countless texts and questions you’ve probably sent in your mom groups—wouldn’t it be nice if those were going directly to a trained expert instead?
The doulas in Major Care provide non-medical resources and recommendation for parents on things like:
- Vaginal care
- C-section care
- Baby wearing
- Emotional ups and downs
- Sibling transition,
“We cover it all!” Major says. “Though sometimes, often times, listening and holding space is the most important part of our job.”
Typically, a doula will work with a family from the last month of pregnancy through the first 90 days postpartum. According to Major, those first 90 days are crucial because that’s the time when you transition home from the hospital and then back to work. A lot of big changes happen during those times and although society expects parents to figure it out on their own, having someone to support you along the way can be invaluable.
“Everything has turned upside down and amid all the joy, there is a whole new paradigm to figure out—this little human, yourself, you as a parent, you as a partner, you as a family,” she says. “It’s monumental. That’s why I always cringe when I hear ‘bounce back.’ In a perfect world, that phrase would not exist.”
Why Hire a Virtual Doula?
Well, frankly, because every parent could use a little more support in their lives. “Everyone can benefit from a doula, whether you have an unmedicated vaginal birth, a scheduled C-section, or adopt,” Major points out. “Every study available shows there is a marked improvement in birth and postpartum outcomes when a doula is involved. Basically, we are a trained new parent guide who’s on-call to help you with questions about your body, your well-being, your baby, lactation, and the overall transition into parenthood.”
In fact, Major tells Truly Mama that she founded her doula agency after becoming a mother herself to a daughter and realizing how little support there is for parents after the baby arrives. “We spend 9 months preparing, planning, checking-in, being supported, and being celebrated and then after the baby arrives, it’s all on you and there’s no standardized system of care. It’s galling, really,” she notes. “The U.S. falls behind every other developed country for postpartum care and perinatal outcomes. I felt called to change that in whatever way I can. First, by becoming a doula, and then launching this company.”
And if you’re worried that using a remote doula wouldn’t offer the same level of support to make it worth your while, Major assures us that about 90% of traditional doula work can be done virtually. And in some ways, virtual doula work has some advantages that a physical doula would not, like allowing for more time together or having both partners be more involved in getting their questions answered.
“Every study available shows there is a marked improvement in birth and postpartum outcomes when a doula is involved.”
How to Hire a Virtual Doula
If you’re interested in hiring a virtual doula, the good news is, it doesn’t matter where you are located because virtual services can be found anywhere. Pricing does vary, however, so you may need to do your research to find one that is in your budget. It’s also worth checking with your insurance provider; most plans do not cover doula services, but may let you use HAS funds to pay for one. As just one example, virtual doula care through Major’s service can be as affordable as less than $5 per day, with different plans to meet a family’s needs.
And here’s something to keep in mind: you can totally add doula services to your registry. Major points out that registering for a doula is just like any other important item you need to become a parent—and in some ways, it may be one of the most important. Because your postpartum health matters more than any stroller or bouncy seat could.
“If you’re pregnant, please, please, please add doula services to your registry!” says Major. “Whether it’s our virtual service or a local service, doesn’t matter. There’s not an ounce of selfishness to this act. If you can add some kind of meal train or food delivery in addition to a doula, all the better. People can chip in on it, like they do a stroller or crib. The fourth trimester is about your health and well-being just as much as the baby’s. We need to honor that, and double-down on supporting new parents in meaningful ways.”
“The fourth trimester is about your health and well-being just as much as the baby’s. We need to honor that, and double-down on supporting new parents in meaningful ways.”
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