Doulas a popular option for local mothers-to-be

More expectant mothers in Manitoba are turning to doulas for help during their pregnancies.

More expectant mothers in Manitoba are turning to doulas for help during their pregnancies.

A doula, or "labour companion," provides emotional and physical support for pregnant women, teaching birthing positions, providing massage during labour, and sometimes offering postpartum support.

While they don't perform medical procedures, many women find doulas help make the experience of childbirth a lot easier. Doulas are not the same as midwives; unlike midwifery, doula service is not considered a regulated health-care service by the provincial government.

The number of licensed doulas has skyrocketed over the last decade, growing from 100 to 1,000 nationally, according to the Canadian Doula Association. While there are no hard numbers available for Manitoba, doulas in the province say business is booming.

Cherie Harb has worked as a doula in Winnipeg for more than a year. She was motivated to get involved by her own experiences.

"I had not very good pregnancies and deliveries for myself, and I just wanted to help other women kind of get through some of the difficulties that I had, and make it positive for other people," she told CBC News.

Tanya Watt hired a doula to help with the birth of her son, Dawson. She had only recently moved to Winnipeg from Ontario with her husband, who is in the military.

Although friends and family were just a phone call away, Watt wanted someone to help with the last stages.

"I think it was very worthwhile, and I would definitely do it again," she said. "I look back on the birth of my son, and it was a satisfying experience."

There is no official or required certification for doulas, although several bodies offer training or voluntary certification, including the Manitoba Association of Childbirth and Family Education and the Doulas of North America.