Photo of: Lauren Fox
A fourth-time mother was considering leaving her medical team less than a month before she was born at LMH Health until Lawrence Hospital announced on Friday that it would change its delivery room guidelines.
Nina Trummel gave birth to her first three children at LMH Health with the help of her medical team and a local doula. Until Monday, due to restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, expectant mothers were only allowed to have one supportive person during labor. Trummel, who is expected at the end of March, originally thought she would have to decide whether to move to a new hospital that accommodates two supporters, or whether to choose her partner as a support person and her doula is only there virtually – options, that exist, she said, probably “limited” her experience.
However, on Friday, LMH Health announced that starting Monday, patients working at the hospital’s Family Birthing Center could have a doula or second helper in the room while the patient works during labor and for up to two hours after delivery.
Trummel said she was “overjoyed” when she heard the news.
“I think it’s really life changing for mothers-to-be who for the first time can’t imagine doing it with them without another representative or lawyer in the room,” she said.
LMH Health is following the lead of other regional hospitals who previously changed their policies to allow more than one support person in the delivery room. According to spokesman Matt Lara, Stormont Vail in Topeka has just changed its policy to allow two visitors to enter delivery rooms on March 1st. Lara said the hospital made the change due to the declining COVID-19 numbers in the community, but the hospital will continue to monitor the numbers and adjust its policies if necessary.
At the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., A support person and doula have been admitted to delivery rooms since the pandemic began, according to spokeswoman Jill Chadwick.
Lori Tillema, director of maternal childcare and obstetrics at LMH Health, said the hospital had been monitoring guidelines in other hospitals in the area and found that “these decisions continue to be made based on safety and currently available resources” .
“LMH recognizes that limitations can cause stress for patients, but we had to weigh that against the necessary limitations imposed on our facility due to the Covid pandemic,” she said in an email. “We recognize the importance of birth partners to a working woman and we continue to work to provide the best experiences for our patients during pregnancy and childbirth.”
A doula is a trained professional, but not a healthcare professional, who provides physical, emotional, and informative support to mothers throughout the pregnancy and labor process. Trummel said doulas create “emotionally safe” environments and advocate the patient and her decisions.
“They are just very good at de-escalating an otherwise stressful, unknown situation for the parents,” she said. “I think back to my first childbirth experience and how much my lawyer helped me get the experience I wanted.”
Trummel said she knew she didn’t want to have a caesarean section before her day of delivery, but if she hadn’t had a doula advocating for her needs during her delivery, she might have taken advice from her medical team and received a C-section. This, in turn, could have had a negative impact on Trummel’s postpartum mental health, she said, because she would have had a different experience than she had anticipated.
Lindsay Clements, a doula who lives in Lawrence and worked with Trummel during her pregnancy, said she had at least five customers in 2020 and 2021 who switched their choice of delivery location to have them in the room with them. But it has also provided virtual services since the beginning of the pandemic. While she can communicate with her customers via SMS, phone calls, and Facetime calls during the delivery process, she has not been able to assist mothers with position changes or other physical needs, such as moving around. B. Bringing towels or cooling them down.
“Virtual service just isn’t the same,” said Clements.
After changing LMH Health’s policy, Clements said Monday that she was “excited” and happy for her customers.
“This has been a very stressful time for some of them trying to make decisions about where to deliver their baby,” she said.
Trummel said it was important that LMH Health’s guidelines allow either a doula or a second support person in the delivery room. Not everyone can rent a doula, she said, so LMH Health’s policy is a fair solution.
“It’s like women in general have the option of having another woman or person of their choice present during the delivery,” she said.
Trummel said she hopes all women who choose to have their babies at LMH Health feel a sense of control in choosing who can be in the room. She is thrilled that LMH offers parents-to-be “the platform to enter the delivery room with more self-confidence and security”.
“If there is one thing these uncertain times have taught us, it is how precious life is and how it should be cherished at every stage,” she wrote in a follow-up email to Journal-World. “It makes me proud to be an LMH patient and confirms the commitment of my medical service providers.”