What is a Doula?

"A doula is a professional who provides emotional, physical, informational and practical support for the expectant, laboring or postpartum mother." 
- "The Doula Advantage" by Rachel Gurevich

The word Doula, which has Greek roots, means "a woman who serves". The main purpose of a doula is to provide continuous support during labour and tend to the labouring woman's needs. During pregnancy, doulas meet with their clients and build a relationship based on trust and respect that enhances a couple's support system during labour. Doulas provide information and resources so their clients can research and learn about their options so they can feel prepared and informed during labour and early parenthood.

A doula does not provide medical care, however, she is knowledgeable about the pertinent medical aspects of labour, birth and the postpartum period. A doula does not replace a partner's care or support, instead a doula enhances the supportive environment by providing support and guidance to the woman's partner so they can be better equipped to support her. Lastly, a doula does not make decisions for the labouring mother or her partner. A doula respects her client's preferences and decisions and works with her clients to ensure their voices are heard and their desires and goals for the labour and birth are communicated.

There are three types of Doulas:
  • The Antepartum Doula--a Doula who tends to a woman during pregnancy.
  • The Labour (or Birth) Doula--a doula who tends to a woman during labour and birth.
  • The Postpartum Doula--a Doula who tends to the mother after the birth.
Doulas in Canada are not regulated. However, certified doulas are required to train and receive certification from one of the doula training organizations. Currently, the main certifying organizations are: CAPPA Canada and DONA International.

Certified doulas are required to maintain membership with their training organization and are required to follow a code of ethics and scope of practice to remain in good standing in order to provide doula services as certified doulas.

For more info and other learning material on doulas please check out these websites:

CAPPA Canada
Nova Scotia Doula Association
DONA International
MotherWit Doula Care