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What is a Doula?

Doula is pronounced "doo la", this word has its origins from the Ancient Greek word "slave" or "female servant".
The concept of having a companion providing support to the birthing woman dates back to prehistoric times, evidenced by archaeological findings of stone carvings and statues and anthropological studies. [1] 

Doulas gained popularity during the 1980s when women became distressed at the ever-increasing rate of caesarean sections.[2]

A Doula is someone that gives emotional, informational (based on scientific evidence) and even physical support to pregnant women and people, but they can also help the entire family with adjusting to their new lives.
Doulas are there to listen, give confidence and not judge. Offering flexible, practical and emotional support in homes, in hospitals or now more commonly digitally.


Hello, my name is Ânia.

I am a pregnancy, birth, and postnatal doula based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

I was born in one of the most beautiful islands of the Atlantic, Madeira (Portugal). I have travelled a bit around the world, lived in different countries, and learned from different cultures, but I decided to settle in Belfast, which I now call home. I am a mother of 2 amazing children born in 2017 and 2020, they were both born in a Belfast local hospital. I am also working in a local homeless charity for over 8 years in the head office.

I have never had a great dream of having children, maybe because I was too focused at the time on living and absorbing as many life experiences as I could from my travels.


In 2011, I came to NI to support my sister as she had a baby and she was going back to work, this was only to be a temporary thing, but I have been here since then. So, I can say, that my doula journey started there, however at the time I had no clue what a doula was.

In May 2020, I had my second child, and once again was a very positive experience, however, what I was seeing around me was just loads of obstetric violence and people’s rights being denied and a huge lack of family support especially postnatally, so I felt that I had to do something. I can say that at this point I have started looking for information, also a couple of friends of mine had already called me their doula (even at the time I didn’t know much about it). The more I looked into it, the more certain I was that this was the right path.

In 2021 I completed my Birth and Postnatal Doula Preparation Course with Developing Doulas, and this was the best thing that I could have done, has allowed me to meet amazing people and learn so much, and since then every day is a school day.

Ânia Freitas Doula - Training


2021 - Birth and Postnatal Doula Preparation Course - Developing Doulas

2021 - Paranama Doula Course - Dr Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers

2022 - Extension course for Doulas - Matrona – Liga Humanista

2022 - 3-Step Rewind training (in conclusion) - Ruth Olayinka

2023 - Breastfeeding Peer-support - Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

2024 -  Safeguarding Adults and Children for Volunteers - e-learning for Healthcare NHS Health Education England


2021 - Consent: Rights in Childbirth Workshop - Emma Ashworth, Verina Henchy and Maddie McMahon

2021 - Pelvic Health for Professionals -  Sílvia Dias 

2021 - Born with rights (Portugal) - Mia Negrão

2022 - 3rd Edition of the Humanization Conference: Evidence-Based labour and Childbirth (Brazil) - Doulas para Todas

2022 - Introduction to Fundamentals of Autism - Autism NI

2022 - International Symposium of Birth Assistance (Brazil)

2022 - Supporting families through pregnancy loss and the death of a baby Sands 

2023 - Sexuality Workshop - for Doulas - Eliza Padroni

2023 - Rebozo - Eliza Padroni

2023 - 4th Edition of the Humanization Conference: Evidence-Based labour and Childbirth (Brazil/Portugal) - Doulas para Todas

2024 - AIMS Workshop "Focusing on Rights in Pregnancy and Birth" - Emma Ashworth & Nadia Higson

2024 - Doula UK Conference: Inspire & Inspire 2024



2023 - Breastfeeding peer-support volunteer - Belfast Health & Social Care Trust

2023 - Joint Rep at the European Doula Network - Doula UK

2023 - Parents Walking Group - Birthwise NI

2023 - Service User Representative - Maternity Service Liaison Committee Belfast Trust

2021 - Doula UK

2021 - AIMS UK

2022 - Doular - Associação Portuguesa de Doulas

Developing Doulas logo
Doula UK logo
Doular APD - Selo
European Doula Network - EDN
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