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With Delivery Rooms Restricted, Expectant Moms Turn To Virtual Support

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Doula work relies heavily on in-person relationships, but like other doulas, Monique Cowan has shifted to working with clients remotely. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Monique Cowan, a doula from Hawaiian Gardens, showed up at L.A. County-USC Medical Center in mid-March expecting to help her client navigate a preterm birth.

Instead she ended up phoning into the delivery room from the lobby outside the hospital pharmacy.

Delivering doula services remotely is just one way the coronavirus pandemic is changing the process of birth. Many hospitals are limiting delivery rooms to one support person, often the birth mother’s partner.

Doulas like Cowan have had to become accustomed to coaching their clients from home, using video chats to show apprehensive husbands how to massage their laboring wives and explaining birth procedures.

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She works primarily with expecting African American mothers and babies who are at a disproportionately high risk for serious injury or death related to pregnancy. Coronavirus is complicating her clients’ existing concerns.

“The worry for me with them is that their fear and their anxiety will have them isolate themselves more postpartum,” Cowan said. “You need people.”

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