The direct translation of the greek word doula is “of service” or “servant.” This term was originally coined by anthropologist Dana Rafael in the 1970’s in her book The Tender Gift. This book extolled the benefits of woman to woman support after birth, particularly with breastfeeding and recovery.
Over the years the role of the doula has expanded. In fact, the birth doula, who attend to a woman during labor and birth, is more well-known than the postpartum doula, who serves the woman and her family after birth. Both roles are equally valuable.
I have been a doula since 1991, when there was no certification. And DONA International, the first doula organization, was just emerging. Then came CAPPA, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association. Many women before me had been doulaing for quite some time, and not calling it by that name.
Women have supported women in birth forever. Families are geographically split, and birth moved from the home to the hospital. This has left women to fend for themselves. The village was lost, and we have been grappling with this ever since.
Fast forward to 2020 and the word doula has been in the dictionary for several years now, and there are over 125 organizations that train and certify doulas (birth and postpartum). There are for profit, not for profit, volunteer, hospital, and community based doula programs.
How can you determine which training is right for you?
What is the doula’s role?
Is certification necessary?
Can you be a doula without training?
What do you need to know before you start working as a doula?
For answers to these questions and more insight, you can download my 9 page PDF, Essence of Being a Doula.
Sharing my knowledge and wisdom about all things birth