What Are the Tasks and Aims of an Indigenous Doula?

Published: Jun 18, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Pregnant indigenous native American woman

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An Indigenous Doula — who will often be of an Indigenous background — works with indigenous clients and supplies care, resources, medicine, and practices associated with the client’s specific tribal territory, nation, culture, and/or native spiritual practices and beliefs.

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In fact, the work is much about reclaiming traditional birthing and parenting practices, rituals, and ceremonies in a way that fits the client and their community, and increases their feelings of self-esteem and wellbeing, an approach that also seems to be favorable in preventing birth complications and infant or maternal death (a number that unfortunately is much higher than for non-indigenous women).

Another very essential task for the Indigenous Doula is to help with advocacy, that is, to make sure that client’s voice is heard and that their concerns, wishes, preferences and legal rights are honored by a medical team or hospital, if those are involved in the birthing process. This improves the quality of medical care and counteracts implicit bias of mainstream medical healthcare providers, again important in preventing birth complications or deaths.

In a general sense, we could say that the tasks of the Indigenous Doula are basically the same as a “regular” Birth Doula or Full-Spectrum Doula, such as providing informational, emotional, physical, and practical support with regard to the pregnancy period, childbirth, and postpartum care.

Nevertheless, the care is given from out an “Indigenous perspective,” that is, being embedded in the appropriate traditional indigenous community practices, while at the same time focusing on a strong advocacy role towards mainstream, non-indigenous healthcare providers.

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