Petition calls for Gov. DeWine to make doulas essential in hospital delivery rooms

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ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WJW) — There is a renewed effort to change hospital policy regarding who is allowed inside delivery rooms with expectant mothers.

An online petition to Gov. Mike DeWine highlights growing support to allow doulas, a person who provides emotional and physical support during pregnancy and labor, to be “reinstated alongside the birthing person’s chosen birth partner as key professional members of the maternity care team … irrespective of the birthing person’s COVID-19 status.”

“There’s a lot that goes into labor and her physically being there is very important,” said Elizabeth Dressler of Rocky River.

Dressler is expecting her fourth child in August but as of now one person she wants in the room is not allowed to be there.

“Once they’re ready to have video support we’re logging in on zoom and I’m coaching,” explained Dresslers’ doula Emma Whitlock.

Whitlock owns the Womb Within Birth Services and along with Dressler signed the petition.

“To have somebody there that the mom knows is there for her to help her kind of navigate through some of those hard choices she might not be aware that she’s going to have to make can really effect that birth outcome and satisfaction for her and her partner,” said Whitlock.

During the start of the coronavirus pandemic many hospitals changed visitor policies for the safety of patients. 

Current maternity visitor policy at University Hospitals allows for one adult visitor according to a spokesperson. While that visitor can be a doula, a patient cannot have a significant other as well as doula physically present during labor. A Cleveland Clinic spokesperson says patients are allowed one visitor during labor.

The MetroHealth System allows both trained doulas in addition to a expectant mothers’ partner to be present during labor and delivery. 

“We strongly encourage participation of the mom’s partner in the labor, birth and postpartum period if they are healthy and able,” said Dr. Brian Mercer of MetroHealth in a statement. “Doulas can be particularly helpful when the patient does not have their partner or another support person available. Video-support is also an option that can allow doulas provide support while minimizing risk to them and others.”

A Summa Health System spokesperson said a doula is permitted to be with expectant mothers in delivery rooms in addition to the mother’s support person. 

“You’re not coming in because your sick you’re coming in because you’re bringing a baby into the world and you want to feel supported and taken care of and safe and the doula helps provide that space for you,” said Dressler.

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