Doula training program set to launch at the First Nation University of Canada
- By Memory McLeod-Stewart | June 10, 2022
People wanting to become doulas will have access to a new training program this fall.
Recruitment is underway for students interested in a new Birthing Support Workers course offered by First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv).
The program will not only provide training to expectant mothers, partners and families, but will also educate service providers on how to give patient-informed care.
Dr. Brenda Green, associate professor, program coordinator and principal investigator, hopes to attract men and women who have a desire to learn traditional birthing practices and support families during and immediately after the birth.
The program, offered by the Indigenous Health Program at FNUniv, is the culmination of years of story-gathering and research.
It is designed with a wrap-around approach, where everyone engages with the child and parents, said Green.
“If they see something going a bit off or awkward, they are there to intervene and to help," said Green. "It's not meant to put down the mom or dad, but to provide that support and that teaching … to know they are not alone,”
The course will include a doula certification, a cultural component with Elder-led teaching, and insight into the historical effects of colonization and harmful government policies, said Dr. Carrie La Vallie, associate professor and head curriculum developer.
The course will finish with a cultural camp.
Doulas assist midwives and other paramedical staff.
As part of their practicum, students will observe both home and hospital births.
Each community has its own customs, traditions and rituals and that differentiation will be reflected in the teachings, said La Vallie.
“We don’t want to be too specific because some (teachings) are community-based … but some examples would be naming ceremonies, placenta and afterbirth, and keeping the fire going when the birther starts going into labour,” La Vallie said.
Green said part of the role of the birthing support workers will be to gather community-specific information on beliefs and practices and to educate and to answer questions health-care workers may have.
“I've been getting a lot of calls from doctors and nurses asking about, ‘What does it mean about this placenta thing?’ They keep asking me about this and that, and I say, ‘Well, what community are they from because it's different for every community.’ At least it's starting to vegetate in health-care services,” Green said.
The program will begin with in-person classes at the Prince Albert campus and eventually expand to offer remote learning.
Organizers are also recruiting members to expand their community advisory committee.
Women between the ages of 18 and 50 who want to share about their birth experiences as well as Elders and Knowledge Keepers who can speak on the traditional birthing practices of their culture are welcome to join. Currently, the advisory committee is made up of faculty members, researchers, Elders and a midwife.
For more information on how to apply for the program or the advisory committee, contact Carrie La Vallie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 306-765-3333.