Doulas give mothers emotional and spiritual support through pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences. Indigenous Birth of Alberta is a new initiative that aims to return the miracle of birth back to women and communities and also give Indigenous mothers traditional support. We are a group of midwives and doulas who identify as Indigenous and seek to educate pregnant women and their families and promote healthy birthing practices.
The Initiative will help pregnant Indigenous women connect with traditional beliefs and ceremonies. We have gone through regular doula training, but also be able to give mothers traditional ceremonies, smudges and offer spiritual support.
Building on the role of the traditional Aunty, Aboriginal doulas 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.
We see our role as primarily providing important emotional, physical and spiritual preparation before, during and after birth. We are also a resource to the women and families we work with by helping navigate medical terminology, protocols and systems, while inspiring trust in a woman’s ability to Birth and Be a Mother.
Because we identify as Indigenous and come from similar backgrounds, Indigenous doulas often have empathy for the women under their care and are sensitive to their cultural needs.
To us, it’s about making women feel most comfortable and safe during their pregnancy. Some women feel comfortable with doctors but other women would rather take a different route – that’s why we feel so passionate about being able to offer that alternative. For example, a laboring woman wouldn’t need to take her focus off her own experience to tell a doula why she wanted to smudge a hospital room. (Smudging, the traditional practice of burning sage, is done to cleanse the surroundings.)
This work is of great importance. Our goal is not only to change the experience for this child, the couple, and those who care about and support them, but also to help build some new healing patterns in the cultural field around this experience.
What better way to keep our cultures and traditions alive by starting at the very beginning of our children’s lives?