Melissa Harrell, Ph.D. - Birth and Postpartum Doula

Doulas and Covid-19

In times are crisis, it’s important to have the information and support you need. As always, I am committed to supporting you on all levels: heart, mind, and body. Read below for more information on my services during Covid-19.

  1. Support options during Covid-19
  2. Five reasons having a doula is more important than ever

Support options during Covid-19

At this time, I am offering virtual prenatal and birth packages. I will resume in-person support as soon as it is safe to do so. The packages below are designed to help you feel safe, empowered, supported, and strong during your birth. Please feel free to reach out if you have other needs. I would be happy to create a custom package with you. 

I know that many people have been financially impact by Covid-19. Doula work is my life’s purpose and I believe that everyone deserves a doula. If you are not able to afford my rate, please get in touch and we can discuss a sliding scale. 

Prenatal Support Packages: 

Option 1: Virtual childbirth education

  • Format: Google Hangouts (or your favorite video conferencing tool)

  • Support window: Now until labor begins

  • Childbirth education topics (~6 hours): common pregnancy experiences, the labor process, stages of labor, birthing positions, natural coping strategies, medical pain relief, interventions, and first hours after birth

  • Total cost: $350 (discounts available for group class)

Option 2: Virtual childbirth education, preparation, and prenatal doula support

  • Format: Google Hangouts (or your favorite video conferencing tool)

  • Support window: Now until labor begins

  • Childbirth education topics (~6 hours): common pregnancy experiences, the labor process, stages of labor, birthing positions, natural coping strategies, medical pain relief, interventions, and first hours after birth

  • Role of the birth partner (~2 hours): explore and practice the role of the birth partner

  • Partnering on birth plan development (~1 hour): review birth plan templates, explore what's most important to you, review and provide feedback on final plan

  • Meditation (~ 2 hours): guided meditations to help you identify and relax areas of tension in your body, develop birth affirmations, increase connection with each other, and increase steadiness and ease 

  • Optional - Sacred Circle (~45 minutes): invite loved ones near and far for a group meditation to share wishes for your birth

  • Additional support via phone, email, or text: available for non-urgent follow-up discussions to answer questions, share information, hear about hopes and fears, etc (typical response time ~ 1 day)

  • Total cost: $800 (discounts available for group class)

Partner supporting birthing person during labor

Add-on birth support options (prices listed are added on to the cost Prenatal Packages)

Right now, it is very difficult to commit to in person support because it will dependent on what the government and hospital allow at your time of birth. To protect your doula investment, there is no rush for you to decide on the right level of support for your birth.  It's OK to wait until we have more information about how things are going. 

Option 1: Virtual support only 

On call 24 hours a day from 38-42 weeks of pregnancy. Available to answer questions, provide emotional support, remind about comfort measures, coach partner, and facilitate guided meditations. Includes phone, text, email, and video support as needed. (Note: check with your provider to see if your hospital has any limitations on video calls during labor and birth.) Total cost: $300

Option 2: Virtual and in home support (when Shelter in Place restrictions are lifted)

In addition to what's included in the option above, I will come to your home when you're ready for in person support and stay with you until you travel to the hospital. Total cost: $600

Option 3: Virtual, in home, and at hospital support (when Shelter in Place and hospital restrictions are lifted)

In addition to what's included in the option above, I will travel with you to the hospital and provide in-person support until your baby is born. Total cost: $1,000

Mother holding her baby

Five reasons having a doula now is more important than ever

1. Doulas are experts at creating a sense of calm confidence in seemingly chaotic situations. 

Although none of us have been through a situation quite like this before, doulas have a lot of experience navigating complex and sometimes scary situations. A doula can help you stay calm and move from panicked to prepared. Let your doula keep you informed on the latest recommendations from major health organizations so that you can step away from Google. 

2. Spend more time laboring at home (and out of the hospital).

Many women are choosing to labor at home for as long as they can to reduce the amount of time they spend at the hospital. And local hospitals agree, suggesting that you labor at home until active labor (check with your provider about their specific recommendations). This is likely to become even more important as hospital staff and space become more limited. Your birth doula can support you in laboring at home for longer with in person or virtual support (depending on Shelter in Place restrictions in your location). It’s easier to be confident and comfortable laboring at home when you have a childbirth expert in your corner, whether they are by your side or on your phone. For those looking to avoid the hospital altogether, your doula can connect you with some great homebirth midwives.

3. Learn about childbirth from the comfort of your home.

While you’re pregnant, it’s important to learn what to expect during labor and childbirth. Doulas help with this during prenatal visits, but I also recommend participating in a childbirth education class. Many classes are offered at the hospital or in public spaces/classrooms, which may be uncomfortable or unavailable during the spread of Covid-19. Ask your doula about virtual childbirth education options. 

4. Encourage high-risk folks, like your parents or immunocompromised individuals, to avoid the hospital. 

Right now, it is safest for people who are older or have compromised immune systems to stay home and avoid the hospital. If someone on your birthing support team falls into this category, having a doula is more important than ever. Whether in person or virtually, your doula can help you feel safe, loved, and empowered throughout your birth experiences. And, if you’d like, they can send updates to your fan club waiting safely at their homes.

5. Top OB and nursing organizations encourage the use of doulas, even now when hospitals are limiting visitors due to Covid-19. 

Right now, in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19, there is a lot of uncertainty about who will be allowed in the delivery room. Locally, this is a situation that is quickly evolving and changing day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour. Check in with your doula to find out what services they offer in the event they are not able to join you at the hospital. Many doulas are able to provide virtual support via phone, text, and video calls. Although there is a lot of uncertainty right now, a doula can help you navigate the complexity. We can figure this out together, one breath at a time.

The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses supports doulas as partners in care and acknowledges their ability to provide physical, emotional, and partner support to women. AWHONN opposes hospital policies that restrict the presence of a doula in the inpatient setting during an infectious disease outbreak. Read more about AWHONN’s position on continuous labor support for every woman here.”


Melissa Harrell offers birth services in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. As a doula, she helps parents before, during, and after the birth of their child. Her style includes a balance of science and intuition from the fields of psychology, yoga, mindfulness, research, and of course doula work. Contact me at melissa@santacruzbirthdoula.com to inquire about her services.