And Just Like That, Omicron, the variant on absolutely no-one’s Christmas list, has put all of our plans for 2022 on ice. A swathe of lockdown measures and hospital restrictions have been swiftly reinstated around the world: “With rising Omicron cases in the community, the Birthing Unit is not permitting doulas at this time…” reads the website of one Toronto hospital. If you’re pregnant, this might require a significant departure from your birth plan (and a contribution to the Swear Jar). You may also be grappling with the million dollar question: Do I still need a doula during the pandemic?

The answer is yes, absolutely. Here’s why.

Hiring a doula is self-care.  

Now on the brink of its third year, the pandemic is no joke. It’s completely understandable to feel robbed of many elements of this experience as you imagined it, and also to struggle with isolation and anxiety at some point during your pregnancy. Your mental health is especially important right now, and it’s your responsibility to ask for the help you need. How much time and money did you spend to ensure that your wedding was a positive experience? Invest in a doula who will take you under their wing, and support you during this life-changing transition.

Hiring a doula is a gift to your partner.

So you’ve decided who’s going to be looking after you. Perfect. Now, who’s looking after them? Especially during a pandemic, the pressure we place on our partners to become overnight birthing experts while remaining fully present (and useful) during labour can be overwhelming. Remember, a doula never replaces your loved one. On the contrary, a doula is there to help your birth partner or significant other feel ready for what’s to come, and show up for you in the best way possible. As a bonus, they also get to appear in the family photos, and you come off looking better than two blurry iPhone pictures with your fringe stuck to your forehead.

You need to have a plan.

Consider the following: What happens if a new variant is announced, or if I contract Covid-19 and cannot have a support person with me? How do I feel about emergency C-sections? And what the hell is a “ventouse”? Isn’t it one of those small French pastries? (Hint: No it isn’t, but there is an appropriate time and place for both of these things). Some topics might be a little uncomfortable to think about, but part of preparing for birth is considering (even briefly) the possibilities that lie outside of your preferences. Talking through interventions with your doula and planning for your birth gives you the best chance of handling whatever labour throws at you. It’s also a healthy way to address some of your concerns, before tucking those emergency plans to the back of your mind. The math is simple: doulas = support + knowledge; support + knowledge = less fear.

Places are limited.

In many provinces such as Ontario, there is currently more demand than supply for birth support, with doulas, postpartum care, and nannies often booked well in advance. Keep in mind that most doulas only accept 2-4 births a month, for obvious reasons! They take their commitment to you seriously, and they plan to be there with you and for you throughout your journey. It might seem prudent to “wait” to book a doula until restrictions change, but if you’re already pregnant, your preferred doula may no longer be available during your birth window. Rather than miss out, ask them for a copy of their contract during your first trimester. Usually if your doula is unable to attend your birth, they will offer additional perinatal education, virtual support, or postpartum services in lieu of that time.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to hire a doula, consider doing some further reading, or asking other parents in your network about their experience. Studies have shown many clinically meaningful benefits to having a doula present for your birth; lower cesarean rates, shorter labours, and higher APGAR scores for babies to name a few, but a positive birth experience is more than just a physical event. In a New York Times article published last year about the role of the doula, Dr Neel Shah reflected, “It’s important to remember that people have goals other than simply emerging from childbirth unscathed… what we should all really be aiming for is the ceiling: care that is not just safe, but supportive and empowering.”

Pandemic or no pandemic, you can sleep a little lighter knowing your doula will always be there to help you find the light.

Zoe is an alumni of the Doula School. She’s an wonderful doula and the founder of Where you can find birth doula, photography, wedding packages, and more. You can follow Zoe on Instagram at @milkandblossom