To begin, what is a birth doula? Essentially it is a person trained and experienced in childbirth; they provide much needed physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after childbirth. I am a Certified Birth Doula CD (DONA), meaning to say I having been accredited by DONA International headquartered in Chicago, IL. As DONA International states they have “the highest certification standards for doulas worldwide. When a doula proudly adds the letters CD(DONA) after her name, it shows the world she has met all the requirements of our rigorous certification program.” Additionally, they are proud to announce that they, “set the bar for doula education and professional development. It indicates to families that a doula has achieved a high level of training and professionalism.” As is standard, once certified a professional joins an association to work together on a common cause. Years ago I joined the Calgary Doula Association; I currently serve as a member and as the association’s Public Services Coordinator. Our association provides members with a number of benefits. These include:
• A professional “home,” network, or community;
• Professional development opportunities;
• Standards of practice;
• Code of ethics;
• Information on certification requirements;
• Mentorship opportunities;
• Forums/events designed to discuss issues and develop solutions;
• Access to local, regional and international resources;
• Opportunities for volunteerism and community service.
The work that we do as individuals and collectively as an association are very important to couples and new families. The Calgary Doula Association works to support its members but also works to give something meaningful back to society. How? First, our mission statement is clear in that we “strive to foster relationships between doulas, health care providers and all members of the birth community in Calgary and surrounding areas.” Expectant mothers can reach out to our association to find out “what is a doula” and get help “finding a doula” through the list of experts we provide on our website. We describe for women “what doulas do,” and promote how we can help make the childbirth process a truly rewarding one. Women in this region, and across the world, value the experience of having a doula, or a knowledgeable and experienced birth guide who stays with them through their pregnancy, labour, and beyond. If you are in need of a doula, or simply want to meet me and learn what we do contact me. In a nutshell, doula associations provide a forum for maintaining professional standards, continuing the education of birth and postpartum doulas, and serve to inform the public about the benefits of doula care.
Image used taken from the Calgary Doula Association website, October 19, 2015.