pregnant woman 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [illustrative])
The Health Ministry does not recognize doulas – women (and rarely men) who assist and encourage women during childbirth – as a profession, the ministry said on Tuesday.
Thus it does not know how many there are in the country or what credentials they may have. Nor has the ministry established criteria for who can work as a doula.
The word comes from the ancient Greek term for handmaiden or female slave because their owners used them as labor companions during childbirth. Many women – especially haredi women – hire doulas
, since their husbands may not want to be at the delivery because of halachic limitations.
The ministry stated in 2003 that “performing treatment” on a woman during childbirth in a hospital may be done by an accompanying person, but only if the latter is a medical professional. The treatment is the responsibility of the hospital, and so the medical staffers provide it, according to the ministry directive. A person who accompanies the woman in the delivery room is (assumed to be) a spouse or other relative. A nongovernment hospital is permitted to give private medical service, but state institutions are prevented from giving such services, it continues.
MK Gila Gamliel, the deputy minister for the advancement of women, noted
the case of a man who called himself a doula
and allegedly sexually
molested his “clients” before delivery.
Gamliel said that “pregnancy and childbirth are the most sensitive
period in the life of a woman and lives of a couple. Medical and
paramedical treatment during this time is not only physical but also
emotional and mental.”
Gamliel added that trained doulas
establish a close relationship with
the women they assist. “It is unthinkable that such a sensitive job is
completely uncontrolled and that anyone can call herself/himself a doula
without having a license that is based on certain credentials,” said
Gamliel, who asked the health minister to arrange for doula
supervision as abroad. “If I get no answer, I will initiate