Having a baby during COVID-19 in Ottawa-Gatineau

During the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent many hours on the phone and on Zoom as a listening ear with families who were grieving. Grieving the loss of a pregnancy that they thought would be filled with loving hugs and support from family and friends. Shaken by the uncertainty of their birth plans and the loss of my physical support. And many feeling alone and isolated during their postpartum period where extra support is so valuable to new families.

Everyone’s situation during this pandemic has been different and challenging in their own right. 

Many birthed alone for various reasons. Some partners had to miss the birth because there was no one to care for their other children. Or their support person had COVID-19 like symptoms who were not allowed in the hospital. And many single parents who wanted a doula during April and May were denied support when we were not allowed in hospitals or the birth centres (thankfully that has changed).

COVID-19 has dramatically shifted the postpartum experience for many too. Grandparents and other family members have been more cautious when it comes to visiting. And for those with partners working from home, it can be an adjustment and juggle at times with a newborn.

And while embracing uncertainty is never easy, we all have been forced into this space that calls for our ability to think in terms of a plan b (or c,d,e….). It hasn’t been the start of the parenting journey that was anticipated but yet we’ve all found our ways to adjust and hope for better days to come. Some have found the bright sides to COVID-19 restrictions. Some have found that having fewer visitors during their postpartum period has been more relaxing for their recovery. And with fewer people touching their babies, many have stayed healthier. Those able to work from home during their pregnancy have found it less stressful without the commute. And partners working from home has allowed for more flexible support when needed.

As a doula, I have adjusted my care and my own personal practices during COVID-19 such as:

  • Opting for virtual meetings and classes when possible and providing virtual support packages (for birth and postpartum)
  • Completing the advanced course in Safety and Infection Control and Prevention with Childbirth International
  • Wearing a mask at births and client homes and proper hand hygiene
  • As a member of the Ottawa Valley Doulas Association, I am a recognized Doula allowed to support births at various locations: Civic and General Campus', Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre, Home births
  • Staying up to date with public health, hospital and birth centre policies and practicing safe social distancing

In Ottawa-Gatineau, as of November 23, here are the various hospital policies regarding doula support during COVID-19:

Places allowing doula support plus partner/support person:  

The Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre and Home births with Midwives 

  • Up to 6 people are allowed to be in the room. Included in this number are the birthing person, the birth partner, two midwives, midwifery students, doulas, and extra support people.

Places NOT allowing more than one support person

(This one person could be a partner, doula, friend, family member, or other relation that may accompany the birthing person during labour and delivery)

The Ottawa Hospital Civic campus & General campus

The Montfort Hospital

The Queensway Carleton Hospital

The Gatineau Hospital

​La Maison de Naissance de l'Outaouais

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how I'm supporting families, please contact me as I'd be happy to explore what options could work for you!

Erin Kasungu