Much of the emerging research on the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant people and their infants has been clinical, devoting little attention to how the pandemic has affected families navigating pregnancy and birth. This study examined the perspectives of doulas, or nonclinical labor support professionals, on how pregnancy and birth experiences and maternal health care delivery systems changed in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doulas’ clients faced three predominant COVID-19-related pregnancy and birth challenges: a) fear of exposure; b) limited access to their expected support systems; and c) uncertainties surrounding hospital restrictions on labor and birth. Doulas responded creatively to help their clients confront these challenges. Participants expressed various criticisms of how maternal health care systems handled the emerging crisis, argued COVID-19 exposed preexisting weaknesses in US maternity care, and called for a coordinated care model involving doulas.

Author: Crystal Adams, PhD, MPH

Publication Date: July 23, 2021

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