The SCBP doula program
The word Doula refers to a supportive companion (not a friend or loved one) experienced in attending childbirth and trained to provide continuous emotional and physical support during labour. Evidence suggests that doula support can have enormous benefits for the pregnant person, newborn, and family. There have been many studies and several randomized trials confirming the benefits of the presence of a doula. People randomized to receive doula support also reported higher self-esteem and stronger feelings of attachment to their newborn six weeks after birth than people who did not receive doula support.
- Emotional support: Encouragement and reassurance throughout the labour and birth
- Physical support: Massage, warm compresss, and other comfort measures. It can also include non-pharmaceutical forms of pain management such as position changes, relaxation exercises, massage, breathing techniques and the use of a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit
- Informational support: Assisting a pregnant person in understanding their options during labour and providing language translation when necessary. The doula does not offer medical advice
- Partner support: Role modeling and providing reassurance and encouragement for partner or support people. The doula allows partner or support people to participate in the labour and birth at their own comfort level
The type of support provided by the doula is based on individual preferences and is usually discussed with the pregnant person and partner prenatally. An important element of the doula’s role is the continuity of care that they provide by remaining with the pregnant person throughout their labour and birth.
Training: All doulas on the SCBP Team must have attended a DONA International Approved Birth Doula Training. Doulas are required to sign a standard of practice form and a confidentiality agreement. All new doulas added to our team attend an orientation specific to our program and are mentored by senior team doulas.
What to Expect: Around the 32nd week of your pregnancy you will be given a doula preference form to fill out. The director of the doula program looks at a variety of factors when assigning your doula to you.
Language preference: If you speak a language other than English at home or would appreciate a doula who is culturally sensitive to your individual needs, the doula coordinator will take this into consideration.
Preferences: If you have any preferences or considerations just as the doulas background, age or if you would like your doula to be of a similar faith, please note that on your form. Your doula will never bring their beliefs or faith into your experience; their goal is to support you with your wishes.
When will you meet your doula and what to expect: Your assigned doula will contact you via the number provided on your preference form around 35th weeks of your pregnancy. At that time a prenatal visit will be arranged.
- You will have one virtual prenatal visit with your doula.
- Your doula will be on call for you 24/7
- Notify your doula when labour begins and do not go to the hospital before alerting your doula and the emergency line.
- Will offer you and your support person guidance via telephone when your labour starts to get progressive.
- Your doula will join you in labour when you are getting admitted to the hospital.
- Once at the hospital, the doula will stay with you continuously until your baby is born, and then usually an hour or so after the birth.
- You can expect one virtual postpartum visit from your doula within two weeks of being home.
Back up: The doulas on the team back each other up; if it happens your doula needs a backup (for a variety of reasons) they will brief the back up regarding your personal wishes. Statistically you will have the doula you met prenatally the majority of the time.
Subsidizing our Doula Program: We are a busy practice who cares for a diverse population, and it is important to us that our doula program experience is the same for every family. The support of a doula is not covered by MSP. To privately hire a birth doula in the Vancouver area is in the 1500$-2000$ range. We have worked hard through the years to increase accessibility to doulas for all families in our care as we know how valuable the role of the doula is and how inaccessible doula care can be for many families at South Community Birth Program. We subsidize our doula program with support from BC Women’s Hospital and from our foundation. Our foundation at South Community Birth Program is the Vancouver Community Birth Foundation. The foundation’s team of doulas and cultural translators provide accessible and culturally appropriate care to our birthing families. Foundation families are also provided day-to-day living support, subsidized counselling, physiotherapy as well as pregnancy and postpartum education. Learn more about the foundation here: https://www.scbp.ca/about-us/foundation-and-community-work
For all families in our care to have the support of a doula we rely on donations to our foundation. When you fill out your doula preference form you will be asked to donate to help us continue to provide this service to all families in our care. You will receive a tax credit when you donate.
The suggested donation amount is between $350- $950+ dollars. We know it can be difficult to figure out how much you should donate so we have borrowed from some of our favourite sliding scale models to help families adjust donations based on access to resources.
The SCBP doulas also support women attending BC Women’s Hospitals “New Beginnings Clinic”, where low-income women without health insurance can receive care free of charge.
The running of our doula program is partially funded by a generous grant from BC Women’s Hospital.
NOT SURE HOW MUCH TO DONATE?
FULL CONTRIBUTION $650 - $950+
- Own your home, rent higher end property, or have investments.
- Have retirement accounts or inherited money.
- Travel for recreation.
- Have access to family resources in times of need.
- Have a relatively high degree of earning power due to education level, gender & racial privilege, class background, etc.
- Are employed or don’t need to be employed.
- Have access to financial savings.
- Can afford an annual vacation.
- Have expendable income.
PARTIAL CONTRIBUTION $350-$650+
- Have some expendable income.
- May have access to savings.
- Take a vacation every year or every few years without financial burden.
- May stress about basic needs some months but regularly meet them.
- May have some debt but it does not interfere with attainment of basic needs.
- Have some financial burden due to caring for relatives.
FULL SUPPORT $0 - 350
- Receive government financial support.
- Experience hiring or pay discrimination.
- Frequently struggle to meet basic needs.
- Rent lower end properties or experience unstable housing.
- Have no access to savings.
- Have no expendable income.
- Cannot take time off without financial burden.
- Have financial burden of caring for relatives.
- Have family history of financial insecurity due to discrimination.
- Have no health benefits.
SCBP doula training
SCBP doulas have attended DONA International (Doulas of North America) approved birth training taught by our doula program coordinator, Jalana Grant. DONA is recognized internationally as the oldest and largest doula association whose founders are responsible for the first doula studies. Information about doulas and the results of the studies can be found in the DONA Birth Doula Position Paper. Information about locating DONA Approved Birth Doula Training is available on the DONA website.
The SCBP doula coordinator
Jalana is a certified Childbirth Educator with Lamaze International. She has taught prenatal classes in the Vancouver area since 1989, and has presented to health professionals and others involved with childbearing families. Jalana has been working as a doula since 1983. Certified as a doula and DONA-approved doula trainer, she traveled nationally and internationally from 2000-2011 as the Western Canada Director on DONAs International Board of Directors. This has included enthusiastic participation in DONAs annual meetings and production of materials.
Jalana has been instrumental in promoting and raising awareness of doulas contribution to healthy birth and of DONAs value and role in doula care in BC and Western Canada. As the former BC Doula Services Association (DsA) President and Referral Coordinator, Jalana supported and nurtured the groups membership growth to over 200 doulas.
Jalana is a certified International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) and Lamaze International Childbirth Educator. She has taught prenatal classes in the Vancouver area since 1989, and has presented to health professionals and others involved with childbearing families.