Do you know it’s World Doula Week?  It begins on World Doula Day (March 22) and ends today on March 28. The purpose of this week is to “empower doulas all over the world to improve the physiological, social, emotional and psychological health of women, newborns and families in birth and in the postpartum period.”

As a mom to three girls (now aged 17 to 22), I never really knew much about doula’s 23 years ago. I knew about midwives but not doula’s.  Over the years, and being in the business I’m in, I hear so much more about these birth and postpartum coaches. So in honour of this week I decided to interview a doula from Helping Hands Doula based out of Toronto. I had a wonderful conversation with Co-owner Jessica Payne.

What is a doula?

Let us not confuse a doula with a midwife! The two are very different. Where a midwife is a trained health care provider, and would replace the OB during birth, a doula acts as your coach and personal advocate. Both work out of hospitals, birthing centres and client’s homes. But as Jessica explained, there are 2 types of doulas.


This type of doula provides support during pregnancy as well as during your labour and delivery. A doula is there to provide you with information as well as advocate for your wishes. If required, a doula can provide massage, keep you calm and provide you with information to help you make informed decisions. She is NOT there to replace your partner. She is there to provide emotional support for both parents so they can enjoy the amazing birth experience together.


For those first time parents, bringing a newborn home can be an anxiety filled time in their lives.  I remember bringing my first daughter home. But I was fortunate enough to have my mom come and stay with me to help out. But hiring a postpartum doula is a wonderful alternative.

You will be provided practical, hands on tools that will give you “on the job training” as your new role as parents. When you’re exhausted as most new parents are, trying to figure out everything can be a frustrating time especially when fatigue and emotions are running high. Having a doula there to ask questions, to show you techniques and just be there to talk to, would provide such amazing support. You can even hire an overnight doula who will let you sleep as well as provide reassurance during these long nights. There is so much to learn in those first couple of weeks. 

Doulas are trained in breast feeding and infant feeding (supplementation) and can recognize and advise when it’s time to get professional help from a doctor. 


Let’s face it, most women will tackle pregnancy and the birth process with the support of their partner, the education of books and prenatal classes and the guidance of their labour nurse. But, many times, labour does not go as expected, and women require intervention or are forced to make decisions in the moment. Everything happening could be completely normal but just not in your birth plan. (I know from experience how things can change and for me very quickly).  But usually, the medical team is busy and in and out of your room as you are not their only patient! Answers you receive are usually quickly given and you and your partner are left to make decisions on your own. A doula however, would keep you informed, keep you calm and be there to help guide you through the process. This type of support would be invaluable to many women.


It is important to know that the Doula profession is not regulated so you need to ensure you hire someone with formal training and certification. Organizations such as ProDoula, DONA and CAPPA are just a few that offer these courses. Some doulas are trained  in massage therapy. Many doulas are trained as birth as well as postpartum doulas. 

Doula services are not covered by OHIP but can be covered by some insurance companies.


Helping Hands Doula

This Toronto organization has over 15 years of experience and has supported over 500 families in Toronto and the surrounding GTA. Services such Birth doula services, Postpartum doula services, prenatal classes, registered massage therapy and sleep consult services. 

Why not consider a Gift Certificate towards a doula service! You can put this on your gift registry.

Contact Kristi or Jessica at (416)648-7151 or by email .

Check out their website at