The North Peace Association of Birth and Postpartum Doulas is being formed of the 6 certified doulas in Fort St. John and Hudson's Hope. Doulas are highly trained, non-medical people who help women before, during and after giving birth, to give them emotional support and information to make decisions about their birth plan.
There are two types of doulas: birth doulas and postpartum doulas. Mary Carroll Neudorf is a birth doula in Fort St. John, who, as all doulas must be, is trained by DONA International. She says the association is being formed to raise awareness of the benefits of using doulas, as well as to correct a common misunderstanding.
"A lot of people, they look at a doula like a hippie midwife," she explains. "We're not hippie midwives, we're professionals. We have the training, we have to abide by the code of ethics, we have paperwork we're required to submit with each birth."
Carroll Neudorf explains that doulas are more common in the south of the province, but that many people in the north aren't aware of the alternative. She says the main benefit of using a doula, especially in Fort St. John, is to avoid problems that may come with the hospital being short staffed.
"You're going to get way better care because you have a doula, simply for the fact that they're busy," she argues. "Studies have shown that having a doula tends to result in shorter labours, less complications, reduces the need for labour inducing and for medication."
Forming the association will also create a network of both birth and postpartum doulas in the region, when one is too busy to take on a birth. Hiring a doula isn't cheap – Carroll Neudorf charges $550 per birth, which also includes two prenatal visits and follow up after the birth – but she argues it's worth it to have the extra emotional support.
"We really take a load off of [nurses] because we are able to be with the patient continuously," she says. "I've been in a hospital room for 12 hours straight without eating or going to the bathroom, because we are there for them, and the nurses can't do that."
For more information on North Peace Association of Birth and Postpartum Doulas call 250-262-8845 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.