You might be wondering who we are and what we are all about! We are a volunteer doula program within Volunteer Services at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Our doulas all complete DONA approved doula courses before beginning the application process. Then they go through a thorough screening, interviewing and orientation process in addition to everything they need to become compliant with the UWMC Volunteer Services. Our doulas read seminal texts in the doula profession, including The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.
How do doulas connect with the women and families of UWMC? Doulas sign up for specific shifts and they care for any woman who requests their services during that shift until the woman gives birth. This system permits doulas to sign up for shifts that they are available for and have 12-24 hours of a window after the shift in case their doula services are needed. Additionally, it permits multiple doulas to sign up in a 24 hour period and provides an element of continuity of care in a shift based doula care system. We strive for 24/7 coverage by having an on-call doula list for those times when a doula is not signed up for a shift. Our doulas also serve women who are in antepartum and postpartum who could benefit from the additional caring support of an UWMC DoulaCare Doula.
The presence and contributions of doulas to the emotional and physical needs of women during labor are evidence-based to improve outcomes. Our doulas function as a part of the care team, working with the mother, family, nurses, and providers to enhance the woman's experience in antepartum, in labor or postpartum. Our doulas have 24/7 support from the coordinators of the program if the need for debriefing, consultation or advice arises.
Who are our doulas? We have an extensive array of individuals seeking to participate in our program and serve the pregnant and birthing women of UWMC. Many of our doulas aspire to become other health professionals including nurses, physicians, midwives. Others join the fields of public health and social work. Many other applicants have been doulas under other circumstances but now their personal and/or professional lives do not permit them to be on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The shift based and on-call system permits them to contribute meaningfully to birth work while attending to their educations, careers and families. Several doulas come to build a foundation toward professional doula work as they transition from their current professions. Regardless, our doulas contribute immeasurably to the lives of the women and families they serve while simultaneously gaining invaluable and unique experiences.
Thank you to all of you who have served and continue to serve through this program!