In 2011, the Tripartite First Nation Aboriginal Doula Initiative—a partnership among provincial, federal, and First Nations governments—was developed to improve maternal health services for Aboriginal women and bring birth closer to home and back into the hands of women, as recommended by the Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan.
An Aboriginal doula provides emotional, physical, and spiritual support for expectant mothers and their families during pregnancy, labour, and the postpartum period. Building on the role of the traditional aunty, an Aboriginal doula can assist in honouring traditional and spiritual practices and beliefs associated with maternity care and support the language and cultural needs of the woman and her family.
Perinatal Services BC led a pilot project to train Aboriginal doulas in Interior Health and Island Health between 2011 and 2013, with the goal to develop a sustainable doula service model for Aboriginal women. The initiative was evaluated in 2014, identifying many successes as well as challenges that were overcome during the implementation.
As a result of what was learned during the initiative, doula services are now in the hands of the community. Communities interested in providing doula services will be able to choose, train, and support the people they decide are the right fit as a doula in their community.
The work of a doula has a direct impact on the health and wellness of expectant mothers and their families, and it can be a very rewarding profession. With the right supports in place, a doula can pursue excellence in their role as a valued professional supporting women and their families.
If you are an individual interested in becoming a doula or part of a community that is interested in providing Aboriginal doula services, visit the Doula Services page on the First Nations Health Authority website. There is information on doula training, what needs to be in place in the community to support a doula, financial assistance, networking, and practice resources, including downloadable templates.