COVID AND DOULA ADMISSIONS

Please note that as per Governor of New York State Doulas are allowed to support their clients along with the birthing mom companion/partner at the hospital duringthe labour process. Doula may not be able to attend your prenatal visits in person. Talk to your care provider.

December 15, 2020

DHDTC DAL 20-15

Dear Hospital CEO/Birth Center Administrator:

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals and birthing facilities

enacted strict limits on the number of visitors allowed in their facility as well as the duration of

stay for many visitors, in keeping with Department of Health (Department) guidance and New

York State Executive Orders.

In March 2020, Governor Cuomo issued the first of a series of Executive Orders that proactively

affirmed the right of all birthing people in New York State to be accompanied by a support

person while admitted to a hospital or birthing center for labor and delivery (Executive Order

202.12). Subsequent guidance and updates to Executive Orders further clarified that support

persons must be allowed to accompany any birthing person for the duration of their inpatient

stay, which included labor, delivery, and postpartum care provided after birth (Executive Order

202.13).

Executive Order 202.25, issued in April 2020, further affirmed the right of all birthing people to

be accompanied by a doula in addition to their designated support person. Doulas are trained

professionals who provide emotional and physical support to individuals during labor, delivery,

and the immediate postpartum period. Doulas are an essential part of a birthing care team.

To date, existing Executive Orders and New York State Department of Health guidance require

all birthing hospitals and centers to:

- Allow all birthing people to be accompanied by a support person of their choosing for the

duration of their in-patient general hospital or birth center stay.

- Provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to support persons who

accompany birthing people during labor, delivery, and while receiving postpartum care.

- Allow doulas to accompany birthing people to provide practical and emotional support

during their in-patient hospital stay.

New York State does not currently have statewide professional licensure guidelines or

certification requirements for doulas. Doulas may receive training or certification from numerous

professional organizations or through an apprenticeship program. Some birthing people may

also choose to contract with a doula who is still in the process of receiving their

certification/training. Relationships between doulas and clients represent private agreements

between individuals and are developed regardless of the specific birthing facility individuals are

planning to utilize.

Current Executive Orders and Department of Health guidance do not require hospitals to

request or mandate that doulas accompanying birthing people provide proof of certification

when entering a birthing facility. Hospitals are discouraged from placing unnecessary burdens

on birthing individuals wishing to be accompanied by a doula and a support person during their

hospital stay. Requiring that doulas present certification in order to accompany a client during

birth is an example of an undue burden to doulas and their clients.

In addition to minimizing barriers for doulas accompanying birthing persons to hospitals or other

birthing centers, facilities should take reasonable steps to support virtual or web-based doula

support whenever possible. This may include allowing birthing persons to use personal cell or

communication devices to connect with doulas during labor and/or delivery, use of secure public

WI-FI networks, and other reasonable accommodations as necessary.

Information on the facility’s visitation policy, including specific information for birthing people and

guidance on doulas, should be clearly stated on hospital and birthing center websites. This

information must be easily accessible and understandable to the general public. Questions

about support persons and/or doula policies during the COVID-19 pandemic can be directed to:

hospinfo@health.ny.gov.

Sincerely,