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In an updated policy issued, Tuesday, 11.17.2020 the University of Washington Hospital system announced that birthing families will now be limited to one support person. This change effectively eliminates professional birth doula support for patients in labor. No other hospital system in the greater Seattle area has barred doulas from serving their clients during this pandemic. We believe birth (doula) work is social justice work. We believe that these policy changes will negatively impact the most vulnerable populations. We believe this is in direct contradiction to the identification of doulas as essential personnel in Washington State.
Governor Jay Inslee, in his March 23, 2020 proclamation, designated doulas as essential health workers in the Healthcare/Public Health Sector Profile, bullet 2:
“Health care providers and caregivers (e.g., physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, midwives and DOULAS (emphasis added) attending facility-based or home-based births, alternative healthcare providers, social workers, speech pathologists, and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists).”
We applaud and thank ALL essential workers for their continued dedication to protecting the lives of healthcare workers and the public. As fellow essential workers, we understand the seriousness of COVID19, but believe this change in policy will cause lasting trauma. Many expecting families are terrified in the current environment and lack the extended family and community support they otherwise would have. Denying birthing families access to the support of their choosing negatively impacts their birth outcomes, immediate and long-term.