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Five podcasts we *love*

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Not a lot of people listen to the radio anymore - and a lot of TV programming nowadays is lacking (or did it always lack?). So what do you do - if you’re on a run (or on the run), driving, doing chores, or relaxing with a hot cup of something and want some mental stimulation but don’t want to read?

Well, we are big fans of podcasts at Spectrum Doula Collective - whether for work or for fun! You can learn so much from podcasts, especially as it relates to your perinatal journey and parenting journey (regardless of whatever stage of that journey you’re in).

Below are a few of our favourite podcasts on fertility, pregnancy, and parenting (with a couple bonus ones - just for fun!):

1) Evidence Based Birth Podcast

Pure gold! For those of you unfamiliar with Evidence Based Birth - it’s a fantastic project (website and podcast) started by Rebecca Dekker, PhD where she presents evidence based information about pregnancy and childbirth. This includes presenting information from peer-reviewed scientific articles in an accessible, critical, and non-biased way. We can go on and on and on about how much we love this podcast.

2) The Birthful Podcast

The birthful podcast is inspiring - both for expectant/new parents and birth professionals alike! Hosted by Adiana Lozada, every episode is an interview with either a birth professional or new parents (sometimes they’re both). The purpose of these interviews is to both educate and inspire. We’re not gonna lie - we’ve cried more than once while listening to this.

3) The Longest Shortest Time

Speaking of crying - have y’all listened to the longest shortest time?! This is a podcast about parenthood - but it’s so much more! Topics range from having babies and raising a family while trans to parenting in the animal kingdom to imaginary friends! We’ve cried and laughed while listening to these episodes - they are honest, genuine, and humanistic. Above all, they make us feel connected to people. For an extra treat, check out This American Life.

4) Unladylike (bonus)

We could spend all day telling you how much we love Cristen and Caroline - the hosts of Unladylike and the former hosts of Stuff Mom Never Told you. This is an unapologetic feminist podcast that inspires, challenges, and entertains us! For an extra treat, check out older episodes of Stuff Mom Never Told you with Cristen and Caroline as hosts! They cover a wide range of topics, with a good chunk of episode focusing on body politics, reproductive justice, and parenting.

5) Secret Feminist Agenda (bonus)

Secret Feminist agenda is a podcast about everyday feminist - with a focus on Canada! While Hannah McGregor (the host) cover a wide range of topics, some of them focus on parenting, infertility, and If you’re a Harry Potter fan, for an extra treat, check out Witch, Please!

Do YOU have a favourite podcast, or two?

Let us know!

Love,

The Spectrum Team

2018: We Grow and We Change

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We wish you a very happy new year! (if you follow the calendar year). May 2018 be full of growth, nourishment, and meaningful accomplishments - those are our goals at Spectrum Doula Collective. 

In keeping with that intention, in 2018 we are striving to better serve our community. This means making some changes and additions to our services. We will unveil these every month throughout the year.

This month we are addressing a topic that we are passionate about: accessible doula care. Our first pillar of A.I.D.E. is Affordability - we believe everyone should have access to the comfort and care of a doula. We understand that for some folks that is not financially possible and at the same time we firmly believe that doulas must earn a living wage. In order to address both of these we are making a couple of changes to our birth doula packages:

1) Birth Doula Packages now start at $1200

We decided to drop our prices this year in order to make doula care more accessible to everyone in our spectrum. While $100 may not always seem like a lot of money, for some people it may make the difference between having a doula or not. 

2) Ten percent goes towards pro-bono doula care

As doulas, we can work with several organisations in Toronto that match birth and postpartum doulas with folks in need to support that can not afford to pay any fees. This includes newly arrived immigrants, refugees, single parents, and low-income folks. This is pro-bono (free) work and many doulas, including ourselves, are passionate about it.

At Spectrum Doula Collective we are adamant about doulas earning a living wage and, at the same time, we want to encourage pro-bono work. Starting in 2018, 10% of the collective share from every birth doula package will be allocated to support a doula in our collective (or partners) doing pro-bono work. This 10% will go towards covering costs such as transportation, parking, gas, childcare, food, etc. for the doula.

3) Support for pro bono work

We recognise that we all have different means and we want to offer additional ways to support doulas doing pro-bono work. When purchasing a birth doula package, if you would like to pay a higher rate than our services for any birth doula package, any amount over our costs will be allocated to support a doula in our collective (or partners) doing pro-bono work. 

These are our first steps to make a meaningful impact in our community - stay tunes for the rest, coming through 2018!

Love, 

The Spectrum Team

Happy Holidays

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We love winter holidays - they're often cosy and full of hygge (even if we don't get any snow). And when we say winter holidays we really do mean any holiday - whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia, or just good old Sunday. This year we thought we'd share some of our favourite foods and traditions:

Vegan-Inspired Dinners

We love a good baked brie just as much as the next person (who isn't vegan or lactose intolerant) but we absolutely adored Oh She Glow's Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf as the start of our holiday dinners. It's easier to make than it make look and it's delicious as leftovers! We pair it with home made vegetarian gravy (sauteed mushrooms, veggie broth, cornstarch, spices), a side salad (likely kale) and roast veggies! 

Homemade-ish Presents

We *love* The Make Den. This year we learned how to make draw-string sacks (to use instead of gift bags) and leather gift tags! We also big fans of offering baked good and home-made bath salts and scrubs as presents!

Taking it VERY easy on Boxing Day

This year we hope to spend boxing day reading, having tea and cookies, and maybe taking a nice long bath (unless we're at a birth!).

New Year's Wishes

While we don't exactly have new year's resolutions, we like to map our a vision with wishes for the upcoming year on new year's eve (a little like birth wishes!). We write a couple of wishes for each of the following categories: family and friends; romance; money; fun; health and wellness; home; career/work; hobbies/skills/self-growth. You can subtract from these and/or add your own categories! 

That's it for us - we'll see you in the new year with all the amazing things we've been planning! 

xo, 

The Spectrum Team

Winter Walking: 4 options to walk in Toronto

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Movement is so important for promoting health and wellness in pregnancy and yet busy lives means that many of us have difficulty meeting our exercise goals. Thankfully there are many movements that can be incorporated into our daily lives. Such as walking!

Walking is often overlooked as a form of physical activity. It strengthens your legs, back and pelvis and improves your alignment and flexibility. These can help relieve prenatal aches and discomfort and prepare your body. It’s great during labour too!  A 2013 Cochrane Review showed that upright positions, such as walking, lead to greater comfort for the birthing person and a shorter length of the first stage of labour.

Walking for thirty to sixty minutes each day or several times a week is great option for meeting movement goals. As it gets colder and the days shorter, we often tend to become less active and its harder to find the time or space for movement. Luckily, there are many options for walking within the city even on the coldest days:

1. Art Gallery of Ontario

It’s easy to walk for an hour or more while enjoying exhibits from classics to contemporary canadian art. There are four levels all accessible by elevator, but if you’re looking to increase your activity use the winding ramp to move through the gallery.

Every Wednesday from 6-9 pm the AGO collection galleries are free for the public!

2. Allan Gardens Conservatory

One of our favourite winter activities is visiting Allan Gardens, a greenhouse conservatory in Cabbagetown. It is a perfect way to escape the cold, grey winter days into the warm, tropical plant gardens.

Every December, the conservatory hosts their Christmas Flower Show with hundreds of flowers and holiday plant displays. On weekend evenings the conservatory can be enjoyed by candlelight.

3. Holiday Markets and Pop Up Shops

All throughout December, there are holiday markets and pop shops that let you shop while being active. These markets are great for finding unique gifts and crafts, many of which are made locally, and your favourite holiday drinks and treats!

A full list of holiday markets is available here

4. Brave the Cold

We can understand why so many chose to stay indoors during these winter months, but bundling up and heading outdoors has its benefits. We love the freshness in winter air and the beauty of the sun shining through bare trees and grey skies.

Green spaces, such as High Park or Evergreen Brickworks, are great options for outdoor walks. On those cold days, we opt for routes where we can stop in shops and cafes along the way, such as the Distillery District, Queen Street West, or Roncesvalle Avenue.

** Walking is one activity that many can incorporate to their daily activities or holiday plans, however we acknowledge it and the above suggestions will not accessible for all. Of the ideas listed above, Allan Gardens and Art Gallery of Ontario are accessible for those requiring mobility assistance.  

Love, 

The Spectrum Doula Team

Immigrant and Queer for the Holidays

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Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, I was invited to a queer holiday dinner, organized and funded by the University College and the Mark S. Bonham Center for Sexual Diversity Studies. Why a queer holiday dinner? It was for queer students who couldn’t go home, wouldn’t go home, who were not out to their families, and had no one to celebrate with.

I don’t know if they still offer this dinner, but every year around this time I think back to it and wonder what all of us are doing now. Now that we may no longer be in school, that we may have lost university connections, that we may have families of our own, and our relationships with the families we grew up in are still fraught.

Homophobia during the holidays doesn’t have to only mean being kicked out or being ostracized by the family you grew up in - it can be more subtle than that. Maybe it means your partner (or partners) not being invited for holiday dinner (while the family you grew up in may still want to see your kids!),  maybe it means comments here and there about still being with your partner or finding a nice girl/boy, or maybe it means completely ignoring a huge part of your life as it doesn’t even exist (which you accept, because it’s a huge improvement from being insulted and emotionally assaulted).

So many articles and blog posts out there focus on your chosen family - which is amazing! Chosen families can make a world of difference in our lives during the holidays (and the rest of the year). Forming loving and respectful connections outside the families we grew up in is imperative for us as is establishing boundaries with those who still hurt us. So do celebrate with your chosen family (whether it’s one person or 10) and do create new meaningful traditions. Don’t forget to take time to recharge and practice meaningful self care (I’m looking at myself for this one, since self care often means binge watching Grey’s Anatomy while crying on the couch - not ideal). But this season I want to address those of us for whom this doesn’t always work - immigrant queer folks.

Having immigrated to Canada, our relationship to the family we grow up in is already different. We often operate within a scarcity environment - a scarcity of us-ness, or people who look and speak like us, who act like us, who sing our holiday songs, and eat our food. This scarcity sometimes makes us closer to our families and makes our queerness even more queer - not only is it about not being straight (or cisgender, or monogamous, etc) but it’s seen as a rejection of that very scarce and very precious us-ness that our parents desperately try to hold on to. Our parents don’t understand, don’t want to understand, or cannot envision a world where they have a queer child and they keep a semblance of their culture and traditions.

This hurts us, queer immigrants, doubly as well - and please don’t think that I am implying that our hurt runs deeper than non-immigrant queer hurt. It doesn’t, but it does run differently. Sometimes, we too mourn the loss of that us-ness - unable to envision a world where we can be queer and fully part of the families we grew up in. Sometimes, the hurt stings deeper when we visit for the holidays - trying to ignore their behaviours and comments. Why do we do it? Sometimes, Canadian friends will ask us that - and it’s never easy to answer.

We do it because we love our families and that us-ness we cultivated our whole lives, even if we don’t quite fit in anymore. We do it because, often, our families still love us and that love can (for a very little moment) make us forget and make us feel at home. And we do it because our parents are alone, in a foreign country and they too, in a way, are queer.

For all of you feeling like this during the holidays, we see you and we understand you. We know that there are never easy fixes  - or even any fixes. We send you our love and hope that at some point during the holidays you feel free and loved and cherished, because you are wonderful.

Love,

Corina and the Spectrum Doula Team