The Volunteer Doula Program (VDP) has been in existence since 1996 with the vision of providing a doula for every woman who wants one. The VDP has supported thousands of individuals during their pregnancy and trained over 500 doulas.
What is a doula?
A Doula is a person from the community who is trained to give continuous support throughout labour and delivery, as well as in the weeks before and after birth. A volunteer doula won’t replace friends and family. A doula’s role is to help you make informed decisions during pregnancy, birth and post-partum. They can help you to explore the risks and benefits of different types of pain medications and interventions and support you fully in your choices.
The word doula comes from ancient Greek and means “a woman who serves.”
Am I eligible?
As of December 1, 2018 our eligibility criteria in the Volunteer Doula Program has been revised to accommodate all low-income families living in the Halifax Regional Municipality with a combined household income of 42,000 or less. This change has been made to honour the increasing demand for doula services while ensuring we are meeting the needs of the community.
In order to be eligible, families will need to identify as low-income (household income of $42,000 or less). In addition, we will continue to give priority to:
- Individuals under the age of 25
- Individuals who are single
- Individuals who are newcomers to Canada within the past 5 years
- Individuals who are full-time students
- Individuals who identify as LGBTQ and non-binary
- Individuals who have experienced incarceration
This means that we will no longer have the second income category as a part of our eligibility criteria.
I’m eligible – what now?
If you are interested in having a Volunteer Doula and are eligible, please contact Erin@hgahfx.ca.
We typically match clients with a VDP Doula around eight weeks before their due date, but will need to arrange an intake appointment with you prior to this time.
If you have less than eight weeks before your due date, please contact us and we will try our best to secure doula support for your birth.
Becoming a Doula
The Volunteer Doula Program holds training sessions for volunteers each Spring. This training session is held over a weekend (2-3 days). The training offered is through DONA International Birth Doula Training.
For more details on VDP training please contact Whitney@hgahfx.ca
Women’s Wellness Within
We are proud to be partners with Women’s Wellness Within, a non-profit organization that provides support to criminalized women and trans individuals who are pregnant or parenting young children in Nova Scotia.
Current advocacy campaigns include banning solitary confinement of women, providing access to internet and phone for incarcerated women to communicate with their families and to develop health literacy, ensuring dignity and respect for imprisoned trans individuals, and most importantly, developing alternatives to incarceration to advance reproductive justice and women’s rights to parent.
WWW’s 50+ members include formerly incarcerated women, doulas, health care providers, lawyers, students, researchers and mentors. WWW volunteers have security clearance to provide support at the Nova Institution for Women Federal Prison, the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility Provincial Jail, and for women on bail and parole in the community. WWW works in close partnership with Chebucto Family Centre, the Elizabeth Fry Societies of Cape Breton and Mainland Nova Scotia, the IWK Health Centre, and the Halifax Branch of the Women’s Legal Education Action Fund.