Today the Calgary Doula Association is a registered non profit association and is proud to be over 80 members strong with a combination of both birth and postpartum doulas, helping families within Calgary and the outlying areas. Our members meet on a monthly basis between September and May of each year to conduct business, discuss issues, and provide a supportive network to like-minded doulas.
The history of birth in Calgary has throughout the years changed in many ways. It wasn't too far in the distant past that hospitals here had separate areas for labouring, and then delivering the baby in. The delivery rooms closely resembled operating rooms with bright lights, a narrow, flat table and equipment all around the walls. Moms and babies were routinely separated after the birth and the baby remained in the nursery for several hours while the mother was taken to a recovery room. Dads at that time were tolerated in the labour room, but not allowed into the delivery room. They would wait and pace in the waiting room until the doctor came to announce their baby's arrival. By the 1970's the hospital environment in Calgary began to change with a move toward more homelike births and the advent of labour, delivery and recovery rooms (LDR) in the hospitals. Men began to accompany their wives into these birth rooms and remain present for the birth of their babies. By the early 1990's LDR rooms were present in all three Calgary hospitals. Once dads were accepted into the birth rooms during labour and birth, other people, usually family members, also became part of the birth team from time to time. These women who were "experienced in childbirth" began to be known as Labour Support Persons who specialized in helping expectant couples during the birth of their baby.
It was in 1992 that Doulas of North America (DONA) was formed in Boston. "Doula" was the term that began to be used to describe the Labour Support Person. It came from the Greek and meant 'women's servant'. Today it is embraced to describe a women experienced in childbirth who provides a continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and after childbirth". In 1994 DONA held their first yearly conference and offered a Doula teacher training course in conjunction with the conference. Elaine Montgomery attended and became a DONA doula trainer.
In 1995 the first Calgary birth doula basic training courses were held and facilitated by Elaine. The first was at the Peter Lougheed Centre and was specifically implemented to train doulas for the "Birth Companion Program"; volunteer birth doulas in the hospital setting. Twelve women attended this workshop. The second course was a DONA basic birth doula course for women who wanted to provide continuous labour support to couples in Calgary. By 1996 doulas, both volunteer and paid, were attending births. These early doulas eventually realized that it would be useful to meet periodically to upgrade their information and to create a support network to discuss any issues. The first meetings were held in the doulas' homes, usually with 6 to 10 women in attendance.
On October 27, 1997 the Doula Services Association of Alberta was formed with by-laws submitted according to the Societies Act of Alberta. The DSAA name was originally chosen because the Calgary group initially envisioned an association which included all doulas in Alberta. Elaine was by then leading two birth doula workshops in Calgary each year. By 1999 a referral list was developed and potential clients contacted the association through our pager. Doulas were required to attend a minimum of 5 births to be on the list. In 2001 there were 8 members on the referral list. By 2002 there were 36 members of the DSAA. In 2004 the DSAA name was changed to the Calgary Doula Association due to ambiguity on the referral line about our geographical location. In 2005, following suit with DONA, the CDA welcomed postpartum doulas to our membership.