what we do
A doula is someone knowledgeable about childbirth, who provides information, emotional and physical support, and comfort measures during late pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period.
A BIRTH DOULA
- helps you prepare for birth by providing resources and information that support informed decision-making
- supports and enhances partners’ involvement and experience
- provides physical comfort and emotional support during labour
- enhances communication with caregivers, helping you ask questions and feel confident about the decisions you make
- never speaks for you, or makes decisions on your behalf
- helps you process your birth experience and get started with breastfeeding
A POSTPARTUM DOULA
- provides practical household support
- creates opportunities for parents to rest and recover (and shower!)
- provides emotional support during this challenging transition
- provides information on baby care
- provides breastfeeding/chestfeeding/infant feeding support
- helps new parents gain confidence in their roles
Midwives are clinical, primary caregivers; they provide medical support and have at least four years of clinical training.
Doulas have much less training. They specialize in providing non-clinical physical support through comfort measures such as gentle massage, guided breathing, and position support and provides education and information to the parents so that they can make informed choices about their care. Doulas do not have the training or the legal right to give advice, diagnose, or prescribe.
Doulas work as part of the maternity care team, alongside your midwife, doctor or nurse.
When you baby is born, your partner will go through a transformation – they will become a parent! This is a momentous event for your partner and can be quite overwhelming.
A doula can support your partner so that the moment of becoming a parent can be fully experienced and not overshadowed by exhaustion and anxiety about you.
A doula in no way takes the place of your birth partner, or should in any way interfere with their role. A doula enhances the role of your partner by providing guidance to you both. A doula’s touch, words, suggestions and helping hands act as a guide, and support your partner in supporting you.
Current research has shown that women express greater satisfaction with their birth experience and an enhanced relationship with their partner when a doula has been present.*
*Source: Kennel JH, Klaus MH, McGrath SK, Robertson S. Hinkley C. Continuous emotional support during labour in a US hospital: a randomized controlled trial, JAMA, 265:2197-2201, 1991.
In B.C., doulas practice privately, hired directly by clients. Fees are entirely dependant upon the individual doula.
New doulas may offer clients a lower fee or no fee. In this case it is nice if the clients can help by covering the doula’s out-of-pocket expenses including parking at the hospital and child care costs if applicable.
Postpartum doulas typically charge an hourly rate, or may offer package fees for a set number of home visits. The rate depends on the individual doula, their experience and also the type of postpartum work they are being asked to do. Breastfeeding support is an example of a professional service offered by a doula that may come at a higher fee than in-home postpartum doula services.
Some private extended health insurance plans cover doula services. Great West Life and Blue Cross will cover doula care from your Health Spending Account, if your plan provides one.
The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres offer a Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant. If you are of Indigenous decent, you may qualify. Read all about it here: https://bcaafc.com/initiatives/doula-support-program/
This varies widely, but training and/or certification may include:
• an intensive workshop covering basic childbearing anatomy and physiology, comfort measures for childbirth and breastfeeding support.
• observation/audit of a pre-natal class.
• attendance at a number of births where the doula’s performance is evaluated by the caregivers and nurses.
• completion of a written reports on births attended.
• completion of an extensive required reading list.
Many doulas also have other training and experience in fields such as: childbirth education, breastfeeding counselling, massage, nutrition, birth art, acupuncture, herbalism, aromatherapy and/or complementary therapies, but these areas are NOT covered in the doula training itself. Make sure you ask your doula about her qualifications for any other services she may provide to you.
Each doula practices a little differently, but generally a doula’s care includes an initial interview, a number of appointments during the third trimester to plan the birth, attendance at your birth and a number of follow-up visits after the birth.
Your doula is also available to answer any question over the phone throughout your pregnancy and postpartum.
In Victoria, under BC’s Medical Services Plan, you can choose either a Family Physician or a Registered Midwife to be your primary caregiver during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
Both midwives and doctors have training and expertise in managing normal, healthy pregnancies, births and newborn care. If you experience a high risk pregnancy (e.g. multiple gestation pregnancy, pre-existing diabetes, history of obstetrical problems, among others), your primary care provider may consult or share care with an obstetrician. In addition, should the need arise, both family physicians and registered midwives also refer to other specialties, such as pediatricians.
There are many factors which may influence whether you choose to see a registered midwife or a family physician for your pregnancy and postnatal care – it is important that you feel comfortable with them, as they will be assisting you and your baby through your pregnancy and the six weeks thereafter. Both are licensed professionals, and can deliver in hospital. Registered midwives can also offer you the option of home delivery and provide pre and post natal visits at your home. Whether you choose a midwife or doctor as your primary caregiver during your pregnancy and birth, you will still visit your family physician for non-obstetrical medical conditions. Six weeks postpartum, your caregiver will transfer your care back to your regular family physician, if you have one.
- Visit this website to find a family physician who provides maternity care in your area.
- Serving Greater Victoria and the Southern Gulf Islands.