Objective: To explore the perspectives and experiences of community-based doulas and maternity care providers working with each other in Australia; and to identify the facilitators and barriers to working relationships when supporting migrant women during labour and birth.
Design and methods: A qualitative interpretive phenomenological study using in-depth semi-structured interviews. An inductive thematic approach and Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation (COM-B) framework were used in data analysis.
Setting and participants: 10 doulas from Birth for Humankind (a community-based doula service), and 13 maternity care providers from a tertiary maternity hospital in Melbourne, Australia were included.
Findings: We identified how collaborative working relationships between community-based doulas and maternity care providers may be enhanced by adopting facilitators across all three COM-B domains and by removing identified barriers. Factors facilitating collaborative working relationships included: knowledge and value of doula roles, establishment of rapport and trust between doulas and providers; doulas enhancing respectful care, communication and relationships between migrant women and providers; and community-based doulas differentiated from private practising doulas. Barriers included: limited understanding of doula roles and service; limiting behaviours impacting collaborative relationships; and limited opportunities for doulas and providers to establish rapport.
Key conclusions and implications for practice: Findings are relevant to other models of doula care including private practice doulas and hospital-based doula services. Positive, collaborative doula-provider working relationships are integral for ensuring that the benefits of doula care continue to reach underserved populations such as migrant women and improve their maternity care experiences and outcomes within hospitals settings.