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Looking for a Christian Doula?

I am asked periodically why I do not have a separate listing for Christian doulas. My assumption is that some women feel they will have a better birth if their doula is a Christian. This isn’t anything against doulas of other backgrounds, it is a cultural thing.  It is assumed a doula who shares your faith can:

  • pray with you and/or worship with you
  • understands the words you use to find strength
  • understands words that are unacceptable to you
  • is unlikely to practice habits you find offensive
  • is unlikely to suggest methods or measures you feel uncomfortable with spiritually
  • is unlikely to try to talk you out of your spiritually held beliefs about birth

So why don’t I have a separate listing for Christian doulas and childbirth educators?  I don’t think it would benefit my readers.

It is unnecessary. It is usually pretty easy to tell what someone believes by reading their website.  Many doulas make it clear they are Christian, Pagan, Jewish or of another belief system.  If you cannot tell, you can always ask if using Christian prayer or worship during labor would be a problem for her.

It would be very incomplete, Every month I add 30 – 60 additional websites to the directory.  That is not 30-60 new businesses, but 30-60 doulas or midwives who have just learned about the directory. This is a free directory that has been around for several years and it is still very incomplete. Creating a niche directory, of only Christian services would be even more incomplete.  Using the main directory a family can ask for referrals to Christian doulas who are not listed, but the limited size of a Christian only directory would make that nearly impossible.

It assumes doulas could not serve Christians,  Most Christians I know feel that they could do a fabulous job serving a non-Christian in a loving and caring manner being respectful of cultural differences.  But for some reason many Christians assume people of other faiths could not do as well of a job. I encourage families to contact doulas even if they are not Christian to learn more about who they are and how they will treat them.  Most doulas are very professional, and although they may not volunteer to pray with you they will not be offended or try to stop you if you do pray.  Good doulas ask you what types of things they should or should not say during laobr.

It limits access to Christian doulas, A Christian-only list separates Christian professionals from families who practice other faiths.  While they may be willing to meet with a doula who is a Christian because they found her on a general list, they are not likely to search a Christian list to find a recommendation for a doula.

It is a bad use of resources, If I maintained the standard directory with Christian doulas listed and built a second directory of only Christian doulas, I would double the work I do in maintaining the directory.  It would also nearly double the amount of storage space necessary for the directory since each page would need to be built twice. I do not see enough benefit from such a list to justify doubling the use of resources to produce it.

Who Would Count as Christian?, There are over 3,000 different Christian groups in our world, and they don’t all agree on how to define a Christian. Other Christian lists require agreement to a statement of faith for listing.  As I refuse to judge any of God’s servants, I would accept any doula who said she was a Christian. While many would be open and accepting of Christians from most or all backgrounds, those who are more conservative in their definition would find the list washed out and not a Christian list at all.  Unfortunately, the most conservative are the families who seem to want and need a Christian list the most.

For these reasons, I have never felt called to build a Christian only directory. Instead I recommend families review the extensive listings of the Natural Childbirth Directory and interview each of the professionals in their area. I also recommend they ask for referrals to Christian doulas in their area who are not listed in the directory. Another option is to review the Christian Resource Directory for organizations that list Christian birth professionals.

I wish you many blessings in finding the right doula for your family – whatever her faith background may be.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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