How is the DAA different from local associations?
The DAA is meant to unify voices from across the province into an organized voice. We have seen successful provincial associations across Canada, and in light of the pressures associated with COVID-19, presenting as an organized group of professionals will not only allow for more streamlined and productive conversations with government organizations but also facilitate communication among Alberta Doulas. In addition to this, a provincial association will expand the number of voices and perspectives each doula can access while also allowing for more intensive training to be held. The DAA by no means aims to replace any local associations and instead hopes to uplift doulas and doula associations across the province with increased recognition, access, and professionalism.
Is the DAA trying to regulate doulas?
Absolutely not! Regulation of doulas has been achieved in the US and had catastrophic impacts on the role of doulas. Rather than remaining independently contracted workers affiliated with individual birthers, doulas were hired by the hospital and integrated into the hospital hierarchy. The DAA firmly believes that this approach does harm, not just to the doula profession, but also compromises the care provided to birthing families. Regulation would also introduce consequences for doulas not practicing within a rigid set of guidelines. This too would potentially compromise a doula’s ability to advocate for their clients in times of need.
Instead, the DAA hopes to organize the voices of doulas to allow for coherent conversations while also introducing certain standards of professionalism such as carrying insurance. However, these standards will only apply to doulas who choose to become a member of the DAA and feel that these standards align with their personal values and practice. With this in mind, doulas who aim to operate outside of these guidelines will not be directly impacted. Instead, members of the DAA may be simply afforded additional benefits as a result of their commitment to professional standards and financial contribution to advocacy and continuing education efforts.
What are the benefits of joining the Doula Association of Alberta? How are membership fees used?
The DAA aims to provide meaningful support and direction for doulas in Alberta. Currently, the DAA has hired a reputable lobbyist group that has been involved in helping many associations gain recognition on a provincial level. This is an investment that the DAA feels will provide immense benefit to our membership. Initial conversations with government have focused on hospital access for doulas in Alberta but the DAA intends to expand these advocacy efforts far into the future, potentially focusing on issues such as in-hospital breast/chest-feeding support and supporting birthers belonging to marginalized communities. The direction of future advocacy efforts will be determined by the membership.
In addition to advocacy, the DAA will be arranging for several highly-qualified speakers and trainers to provide education to DAA members. Some of these trainings will carry an additional cost while other will be funded by membership fees.
Once restrictions allow, we also hope to organize and educational and team building retreat one per year.
Membership fees also contribute to general association maintenance including website fees and communication software.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, a portion of membership fees will be allocated to offering sponsorship for those members facing barriers. This will include both membership and insurances fees and is a program that will grow in proportion to membership.
Finally, members of the DAA receive a discount on insurance premiums. For those purchasing insurance through the DAA, the insurance premium accounts for more than half of the membership fees.
Is the DAA just for birth doulas? What support are you providing other doulas?
While birth doulas are currently facing the most restrictive barriers as a result of hospital policies, the DAA is a space for all doulas. As one example, postpartum support is currently listed as a specific exception to indoor-gathering restrictions. The current advocacy work taking place by the DAA is inclusive of access to postpartum units for both birth and postpartum doulas.
Our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are inclusive of the entire perinatal period (from pre-conception into the postpartum period) and training will also be designed to support all kinds of doulas. For example, we continuously offer a training focused on appropriate use of PPE and infection mitigation strategies as well as inclusivity which apply equally to different kinds of doulas. Additionally, the Prolink insurance policy provided for DAA members is not limited to labour and birth doulas.
Why is insurance required?
Professional insurance provides value on both an individual and collective level. Insurance is not required to practice as a doula and therefore, many believe it is unnecessary as long as the doula remains in scope. Unfortunately, remaining in scope does not shield one from litigation. Even if this litigation does not lead to damages owed, insurance protects the doula from having to pay for legal support out of pocket. This is an important protective safeguard for any business owner, doulas included. Further details about specific coverage are available on Prolink's Website. On the collective level, requiring insurance holds the group (such as the DAA) to a professional standard. The DAA is working to support and unite doulas across the province and part of this involves elevating our profession to the standard and recognition it deserves. Having insurance not only provides a personal benefit, but also serves the group as a whole
How does holding insurance affect my ability to advocate for my clients?
The insurance policy outlines actions for which you will be covered. While this does not limit your ability to operate outside of these guidelines, coverage will not be provided for any actions taken beyond that which has been outlined.
How is the DAA uplifting marginalized communities?
The DAA has two Inclusivity Liaisons as part of the executive team. These liaisons play a vital role in decision-making at all times. Additionally, our liaisons will be convening with members of marginalized communities to better understand their needs and how said needs can be supported by the DAA.
Inclusivity training will also be required for members of the executive, and facilitated for the membership to increase the number of doulas in Alberta who have taken steps to better support marginalized communities.
A BIPOC doula directory and LGBTQ2S+ directory will also be available on our website to recognize doulas belonging to these communities.
In an effort to address financial barriers, the DAA will have sponsorships available, with a goal of expanding the the sponsorship program as the Doula Association of Alberta grows. Sponsorship recipients will have their membership fees waived.
Continuing education requirements are also designed to remove as many barriers as possible. No continuing education hours are required when becoming a member and a list of free continuing education opportunities will be available to all members of the DAA. There is no requirement to take any paid continuing education trainings. If internet and/or computer access are barriers, members can also choose to read a doula-related book and submit a short explanation of how it furthered their learning.
As well, the DAA will be researching and sharing initial training scholarships offered in Alberta. Currently there is a lack of diversity amongst trained doulas and the DAA plans to take steps to address this problem.
Will advocacy on behalf of DAA members have a negative impact on those doulas who have chosen not to join the Association?
We understand that our mission and vision will not align with all doulas in Alberta and thus are taking steps to ensure that policy changes do not restrict doulas who are not a member of the DAA. However, those who choose not to become a member will simply not be privy to the benefits of being a member of the DAA. For example, if the DAA successfully lobbies for doulas who meet certain professional standards to gain access to hospitals, this recognition may not extend to doulas who are not members.
What is the difference between a board member and a liaison?
Our entire team consists of volunteers. All have a significant voice within the Association. The difference between a Board Member and Liaison is that a Liaison is responsible for a zone within the province and serves as the primary point of contact for doulas within their zone. Liaisons play a critical role in representing their region and building communication strategies with local doula groups and healthcare providers within that zone. Board Members serve the structure of the Association by overseeing general operations such as finances, membership, and organizational day to day items.
How does the DAA ensure representation from across the province?
Members of the DAA team are from across the province. Liaisons went through an application process before being selected to represent their respective zone. They are the vital connection, communicating with the members, birthworkers, and health care providers within each zone and with the DAA team. Beginning in 2022, Liaisons will be elected by the membership each year. Visit our liaison page to learn more about the representatives in your area!
How was the founding board selected?
The founding board consists of individuals who played a paramount role in the development of the DAA. Doulas across the province were invited into early planning conversations. Throughout the year it took to build the Doula Association of Alberta several of these individuals organically settled into a role that aligned with their skillset and time commitment abilities. Some of those involved in the initial planning are now liaisons, while others chose not to continue in a leadership role in the Association. That being said, doulas from across the province played a pivotal role in developing the mission and vision of the DAA.
How can I become more involved in the DAA now & in the future?
There are many ways to become involved DAA. Our members play a vital role in the function and direction of this organization and thus membership is a great first step! As a new organization, we recognize there is room for growth, and we welcome the voices of our membership to help shape our foundation. For more information on the roles of the DAA Team and election process, please see the Member Handbook. As the Association grows, there will be an increasing number of opportunities for members to be involved in committees & play a more active role in the DAA!
What is included in the 10 continuing education hours? Why are these required?
The DAA believes that regular continuing education makes a significant contribution to the quality and professionalism of its members and the group as a whole. As such, the Association will provide training opportunities that support professional growth with the goal of ensuring that our members are equipped with the most current evidence-based information.
That being said, we recognize that strict continuing education requirements (such as requiring CEUs) may create barriers. As such, we will provide a sample list both of free and paid for trainings as ideas to foster the growth of our members.
Alternative free and paid trainings are also welcomed.
This continuing education standard aligns with the DAA’s mission to unify and organize doulas who strive to be recognized as professionals. These requirements are what set the DAA apart and allow for the benefits associated with membership (such as provincial level lobbying). A continuing education requirement is integral to many professional associations and the DAA believes that this standard should be upheld by professional doulas as well. Professional development ultimately will improve each doula’s practice and ensures that our collective knowledge and practice is up to date.
Is the DAA open to feedback?
Feedback is not just welcomed- It's encouraged! We strive to represent the values of professional doulas across the province. Over the past several months we have received valuable feedback from the community and have implemented several changes as a result of this discourse. If you hope to offer constructive feedback to the DAA team, please feel free to use the form below. Any disrespectful comments will not be addressed.