Wesleyan Doula Project

core terms

Doula: A doula is a non-medical support person who provides physical, emotional and informational support and advocacy for people experiencing birth, miscarriage, abortion, adoption, or any other pregnancy or postpartum outcome. In addition to personalized patient support, doulas work to improve communication between medical professionals and their patients.

Birth doula: A birth doula supports people during any or all parts of their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum experience. Pregnant people interested in receiving doula care typically hire birth doulas independently, but there are some medical institutions that partner directly with birth doulas services.

Abortion Doula: Abortion doulas support people through their abortion experience, specifically during the abortion procedure and their immediate recovery. While birth doulas are often hired by individuals, abortion doulas are typically integrated into clinic infrastructure, working as volunteers. For security reasons, at most clinics patients are not allowed to bring any family or friends with them into the procedure or recovery room.  Without doula support, people are required to go through the experience alone. By taking care of each person’s non-medical needs and providing them with personalized support, abortion doulas allow the procedure and communication throughout the process to go better for both patients and staff.

End of Life Doulas: End of life doulas provide emotional, informational, and physical support and guidance to people throughout the dying process.  End of life doulas strive to bring deeper meaning and greater comfort to dying people and their loved ones. Check out the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) for more information: http://www.inelda.org/

Full-Spectrum Movement: The Full-Spectrum Movement refers to the network of doulas and organizations that work to provide care for any pregnancy outcome, whether they are experiencing birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, termination for fetal anomaly, abortion, infertility, adoption, or parenting. The full-spectrum movement operates on the core belief that all pregnant people should have access to continuous, non-judgmental support, safe health care, and agency over their own bodies.

Reproductive Justice:  Based on the understanding that the impacts of race, class, gender, and sexuality are deeply entwined, the Reproductive Justice Movement works to contextualize abortion and reproductive health within the larger conversation of social justice.  Seeking to give voice to marginalized communities, Reproductive Justice urges for a more intersectional understanding of reproductive rights.  As the movement argues, reproductive freedom includes the right to not parent–accessing safe and non-judgmental abortion–but also the right to parent and to raise children in safe and healthy environments. 

Reproductive Health: the area of health care that pertains to reproductive and sexual processes experienced throughout one’s life.  Movement building around reproductive health specifically tends to focus on issues of access to medical services.

Reproductive Rights: Reproductive rights refers to a framework for fighting reproductive oppression that addresses the legal issues associated with reproductive justice, health, and health care.

Provider: A provider refers to a professional who provides abortions through a private practice or public health center.  This could be a doctor –typically an Obstetrician/Gynecologist or Family Practitioner – or, in some states, a nurse midwife.