VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A Virginia Beach mother recently had to choose between having her doula or her husband present for the birth of her child.
A birthing doula provides emotional and physical support for women in labor. One local doula who spoke to News 3 wants to be considered as an essential part of the birthing team, not a visitor.
At the labor and delivery unit in Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, mothers are currently only allowed to have one visitor. In the past, the number was two.
The president of the hospital says they base the visitor policy on COVID-19 numbers. Sentara sent the following information:
The policy, using VDH data metrics, states when the seven-day Average Number of New Daily Cases Reported in Virginia Beach is above 25 per 100,000 people, one support person is allowed. When the daily average is at or below 25 per 100,000 for seven straight days, the policy allows two support people.
However, individual hospitals within the Sentara system can make their own policies. Some currently allow two visitors. Sentara says it’s based on COVID-19 case rates and also patient population.
“Here at Sentara Princess Anne, interestingly enough, we actually don’t have as high of a rate of utilization of doulas than at some of the other hospitals. So, they may have taken that population into consideration in a different way," said Dana Weston Graves, President of Sentara Princess Anne Hospital.
Choosing that one visitor can be tough for patients.
“They decided what was best for their family is that I support her, and he would stay home with the kids,” said doula Brittany Tucker. “It was definitely very emotional, though. It’s definitely a weird situation to be in to have to introduce your son to your husband on FaceTime when he’s not in the military, he’s not deployed. It’s just because the hospital won’t let you in.”
Weston Graves said for the past few days, numbers have been improving and she hopes they will soon allow two visitors again.
“I am thrilled that the new case rate in Virginia Beach has been below that threshold of 25 per 100,000 for three days now,” stated Weston Graves. “If that continues, which we expect it to, then at the start of next week, we’ll be back to two support people for a woman in labor.”
The visitor policy on Sentara.com explains that some Sentara hospitals may have additional visitor guidelines based on current COVID-19 trends in their region, and one should check with their facility before planning a visit.