Petition growing to allow professional birth doula support at local hospital

Overlake Medical Center and Clinics in Bellevue is the latest hospital to add further restrictions to visitor policies, amid surging COVID-19 cases.

On its website, the hospital writes that patients may have one visitor (primary partner) at the Childbirth Center.

The change in policy caught a patient by surprise when her doula was not allowed in for her delivery on Tuesday.

“Her doula was waiting in the car lot. This patient was nine centimeters, without an epidural and told her doula could not come in. I kind of feel like we had the rug pulled out from under us,” said Rue Khosa of Perfect Push in Redmond.

Khosa is the owner and founder of the clinic that specializes in lactation and parenting wellness.

“Doulas are there to contribute just as much as the rest of the team and to make this delivery what this family needs and wants it to be, and this is especially true when you think about and talk about women of color,” said Khosa.

Kylie Schiller is a birth doula and on the Board of Pacific Association of Labor Support (PALS) Doulas. She started a petition to overturn Overlake Medical Center’s visitor policy.

She said another local hospital recently overturned a similar policy in recent weeks after they voiced their concerns.

“Doulas should be there because we help reduce the risk of needing C-sections and complications during birth. We’re there to help advocate for our clients and just making sure the correct decisions being advocated for,” said Schiller. “Governor Inslee in March of this year said that doulas are essential health workers and to not be acknowledged as an essential health worker is frustrating.”

In a statement, Overlake Medical Center and Clinics writes:

“Our Childbirth Center team has made this difficult decision because community levels of COVID-19 transmission are at all-time highs. We value doulas and the support they provide to our expecting moms but we also must balance the need to keep our new parents and babies as safe as possible. As community levels drop, the first change will be adding doula services again. Our nurses are aware of the increased need for support and are ready to fill the gap during this challenging time.”

However, expecting parents and advocates believe doulas are a vital part of a healthy pregnancy and birthing experience.

“As long as we look at doulas as visitors, or optional, as opposed to actual birth workers and part of the birth team, this is going to continue to be an issue,” said Khosa.