Birth Support

Beyond the Bio: Meet Laura

Meet Laura - our newest doula! We first met Laura in August and we’ve been smitten ever since! You see, Laura is a type of grounding person you that puts you immediately at ease and you just know deep in your bones that whatever you tell her, she’ll never judge you and will find a way to support you, no matter what. Find out more about Laura below:

Toronto Doula

WHAT DREW YOU TO PERINATAL WORK?

For the past 12 years I was actually in the world of theatre. I was confident for my teenage years that I was only going to be an actor, and nothing else. Eventually, I found that acting was not very fulfilling. I constantly felt nervous about what my body looked like. There is a lot of body shaming, and a lot of sexism in the industry. I was tired of feeling both self centered, and self conscious all the time. I realized that I wanted to make an impact not by how I looked like, but what I did to help others in times of vulnerability and change. I was always someone that worked well in a crisis, and I have always found birth fascinating. The more I started researching the role of a doula, and the more I learned about artists who were also doulas, I was confident this was the right fit. The training with DONA International was incredible, and after the first birth I went to I knew it was where I belonged!

IF YOU WEREN'T A PERINATAL SUPPORT WORKER WHAT WOULD YOUR ALTERNATE JOB BE?

Great question. I still do love writing and creating pieces of art, but I also know down the line I would like to be a midwife. So possibly a midwife who also writes books, and creates performance art...? Let's say that!

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?

Either a nurse or an actor. I'm not a nurse, but I think I got pretty close to my childhood goals!

IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD TOMORROW WHERE WOULD YOU GO?

Every year I try to go camping in Wisconsin. It seems like I should be picking Paris, or somewhere in Africa, but honestly the forests and water there is absolutely breathtaking. I'm a big camper, and I would take a tent over a fancy hotel any day!


WHAT WOULD THE PERFECT OFF-CALL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Oooo, this is a great question. First off I would get a ridiculous amount of sleep. I would wake up on a sunny afternoon, and meet some friends in a park to catch up, and rant about how great it is to be a doula. The night would be complete with my friends and I splitting a bottle of wine, and singing folk songs slightly off key.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE THING (OR TWO) THAT YOU HAVE NO GUILT ABOUT INDULGING IN?

Smartfood popcorn. It's bliss.

Name one thing...

…YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY ABOUT BIRTH EARLY IN YOUR DOULA CAREER:

Ooo I learned that early labour can last days and days. One time I took the whole day off expecting to run to the hospital, but it was just me waiting around in my home for a full day before I was needed. Birth is just as unpredictable as everyone says!

... YOU LOOK BACK ON IN YOUR LIFE THAT MAKES YOU FEEL PROUD:

Honestly I would say switching careers to become a doula! It was scary, and it took a lot of thought, but I've never been happier.

... THAT USUALLY SURPRISES PEOPLE ABOUT YOU:

I ate my first orange 2 years ago. As a child they scared me. Not sure why. I love them by the way.

... THAT'S ALWAYS IN YOUR FRIDGE OR PANTRY:

Smartfood popcorn. Did I mention that it is bliss? It is.

What is your favourite...

COLOUR?

Green. Green. Green.

ANIMAL?

Bernese mountain dogs. Also turtles.

SEASON?

Summer. Can't stand winter.

TORONTO CAFE?

You can always find me at Voodoo Child by Kensington Market!

BIRTH/PERINATAL BOOK?

When Survivors Give Birth! It's a very heavy read but it opened my eyes to the importance of trauma informed care.

Hiring a doula? Some things to know - part 2

Hiring a Doula
the core value of a doula practice is based on a holistic approach to reproduction and its continuum as a function of healthy sexuality and decision making
— Willie Parker, MD, MPH

Last week we published a blog post outlining five things to know when considering hiring a doula. This week we go a little deeper. While full spectrum doulas who offer a variety of services, today we focus primarily on birth work. 

Below we outline five more questions to consider when looking for a doula:

1) What's important to you?

We sometimes say that there are as many way to give birth as there are people. The same is true for doulas. Two people can be trained by the same organisation and the same instructor and have different approaches to their practice. Sometimes these approaches can be minute; sometimes they can be disparate. 

What matter is what is important to you! Do you want someone who is also a yoga teacher, or a childbirth educator, or a fitness specialist? Do you want someone who speaks your language? Is spirituality important to you? 

Sometimes we don't know what's important to us, which is why meeting doulas is vital - you learn about them and their approach and you see if it's a good fit. Learn more about this in your FAQ.

2) A doula does not replace taking childbirth education classes.

Most of the time, you will have 1 or 2 prenatal visits with your doula and there is a lot to cover! Generally during the meetings you get more familiar with your doula, talk about your birth and postpartum wishes, and practice a variety of different coping techniques.

To give ample time for that, taking a childbirth education class before your doula appointments (or at least one of them) is ideal. During a childbirth education class you would cover information such as the stages of labour, coping with inductions, interventions, both medicated and unmedicated coping methods, coping with cesarean deliveries, immediate postpartum, planning for the postpartum period, etc. While your doula may cover some of these topics, they won't have to go as well in-depth as a childbirth educator would.

3) What about price differences?

Doulas are definitely an investment! If you've been looking for doulas you've probably noticed some price discrepancies - some doulas charge as little as 200 - some as much as 2200! Some doulas work pro-bono.

When charging, a lot of doulas (but not all) base their prices on experience. Some doulas who are just starting out may not feel confident in charging full price; however, many doulas (regardless) of experience are starting to charge a standard price. For Toronto, currently that is between $1000 to $1300 for a base package. There are some doulas that also offer some reduced rates spots in their practice. 

There are also doulas who work pro-bono (for free) but their clients are usually low-income folks vetted by an independent organisation. 

If you'd like to learn more about the factors that play into our fees, check out our FAQ.

4) What if a doula hasn't had a baby?

What if a midwife or doctor hasn't had a baby? What if a dentist never had a root canal? What if a therapist never had depression/anxiety/etc? It doesn't matter. 

We are trained professionals who can perform our job very well, regardless of whatever personal experiences we might have had. 

5) What's the process of hiring a doula? 

Once you contact a doula/agency/collective you set up a time to meet the prospective doula for an introduction/informal interview, which lasts between 30min to an hour and is free (most of the time). This can take place at a coffee shop where you feel comfortable or your home! 

During the introduction/interview you get to know the prospective doula, they get to know you, and you get to ask them questions about themselves and their practice! Stay tuned for a blog post on what questions to ask during a doula interview! 

After this meeting, take some time to sit with how you feel about the doula and let me know if you'd like to work with them (or not). Most doulas will hold the spot open for you for a couple of weeks. 

 

We hope you found these helpful, and if you have any more questions, drop us a line.

Love, 

The Spectrum Team

Beyond the Bio: Meet Megan . . .

* Since writing this blog post, Megan had a wonderful little baby (not so little anymore) and is taking some time off to be with him! We wish her all the best and we are loving Sacha’s cuddles!

When Megan started work as a doula, she felt that there was a gap in the Toronto birth community. And so Spectrum Doula Collective was born. Megan hopes that no matter how or when you choose to grow your family that Spectrum Doula Collective can be a safe space to find support. Pretty cool, hey? We think Megan is pretty cool too . . .

What drew you to doula work?

After a career break and travelling for a couple of years I came back to Toronto with a new perspective and was keen to work in an inclusive, and progressive environment where I would feel like I'm making a positive impact. When I returned from my travels my very pregnant friend was telling me about her doula, and with my previous work in maternal and LGBTQ health, a light bulb went off. A week later I signed up for the Birthing From Within Doula and Mentor Training, and the rest is history.

If you weren't a doula what would your alternate dream job be?

If I weren't in birth work, I would love to be working with penguins (I'm being very serious! I went to the Antarctic a couple years back and was in awe), OR I've often day dreamed about owning a Bed & Breakfast on Vancouver Island while bee keeping and making honey (pipe dreams?).

What did you want to be when you were in elementary school?

There were so many things I wanted to be, but it ranged between being an artist, a doctor, a firefighter, to an architect. I had no idea what any of the above entailed but they all sounded good at the time.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

This is such a hard question for me, I've been to so many countries that I would love to go back to (Norway, Mongolia and Nepal to name a few) and many more I would like to visit! I have never been to New Zealand though and it's top on my list!

What would the perfect off-call day look like for you?

Because off-call days are so rare, I usually like to spend them doing something away from my phone. I imagine paddle boarding on Toronto island with a good friend or two followed by a picnic in the summer would be lovely, or brunch followed by Body Blitz with some friends in the winter would be perfection!

Favourite vice (or two) that you have no guilt about?

Please don't judge me. I am a sucker for Survivor and the Bachelor/Bachelorette (I promise I won't bring either up unless you ask me first). I love playing bad pop music while I'm driving. And I love chocolate, and cake, and cookies, and sour cream glazed timbits. . . and well anything sweet.

 

Name One Thing . . .

. . . you learned the hard way about birth early in your career:

My first client hired me late in her third trimester and the day she confirmed, she found out she was 4 cm dilated and 60% effaced. I thought she was going to go in to labour that night. After a week of anticipation, and not much sleep she finally called with contractions. I had no idea that someone could be 4 cm dilated walking around the city like nothing is happening for a whole week!

. . . you look back on in your life that makes you feel proud:

I cycled across Canada the summer of 2014. When I started in Vancouver, my cousin asked 'what the heck are you doing??' I said, "I don't know, but I'm here and have to make my way back home". I had told myself that at anytime, I can hop on a bus or a plane if I don't want to finish. But I biked every inch, solo, and self supported from Vancouver to Halifax. Whenever I'm struggling or think something isn't possible I say to myself "Megan! You biked across Canada, you can surely do this".

. . . that usually surprises people about you:

That I use to play Rugby. I actually started the girls rugby team at my high school eons ago, and played Varsity at the University of Waterloo. Even when I was playing rugby people were surprised to find out. It's like they imagined me in the 'end' zone picking daisies or something? (To be fair there were some days where I would have preferred picking daisies).

. . . that's always in your fridge or pantry:

Almond milk, cheese, and hummus.

 

What's your favourite . . .

Colour

Green

Animal

Elephant

Season

Spring

Toronto Cafe

Boxcar Social Riverdale

Birth Book

Labyrinth of Birth by Pam England

 

Beyond the Bio: Meet Kira . . .

*Since writing this blog post, Kira decided to go back to school to be a social worker! We are thrilled that she will continue supporting people in her new career!

Kira is passionate about birth, reproductive justice and building body-positive spaces. She is a sensitive soul always rooting for the underdog, and a total goofball exactly when you need her to be - you definitely want to get to know this peanut butter loving lady (and if you're lucky she just might share one of her homemade birth snacks with you...!).

TorontoDoula.jpg

What drew you to doula work?

An interest in reproductive justice and health initially drew me to the field. I became really interested in birth from a social justice lens and when I discovered what a doula was, it wasn't long before I was enrolled in my first training.

If you weren't a doula what would your alternate dream job be?

I'm so passionate about this realm of work that my dream job would totally be in the field. Both a dream and a job I hope to eventually have, I would love to offer perinatal mental health support.

What did you want to be when you were in elementary school?

I went through a LOT of phases. I can quite clearly recall wanting to be a designer, a journalist, a teacher... I'm sure my mom would have a few more to add.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Columbia! I have spent a bit of time in Central America, and can't wait to start exploring South America. My godmother always used to talk about bringing me to Columbia (her home country) before she passed.

What would the perfect off-call day look like for you?

Hiding my phone in a closet, going to a yoga class, hanging out with some friends and a glass of wine (or three).

Favourite vice (or two) that you have no guilt about?

Peanut butter.

 

Name One Thing . . .

. . . you learned the hard way about birth early in your career:

That labour can be looong. I learned that even if a client tells me their labour has begun, to ask more questions and make plans accordingly, but not to call all my backups and drop everything until labour has been fully established.

. . . you look back on in your life that makes you feel proud:

I hope to look back on the relationships that I've created and feel proud of the love and care I put into them.

. . . that usually surprises people about you:

That I'm actually pretty introverted. I consider myself an introverted extrovert, so it's usually my extroverted personality that presents in social situations.

. . . that's always in your fridge or pantry:

Coffee, chickpeas, cheese, almond milk, peanut butter, CHOCOLATE... Enough food that when the apocalypse comes, I will be fully stocked for a year.

 

What's your favourite . . .

Colour

Blue

Animal

Sloth

Season

Spring

Toronto Cafe

The Common

Birth Book

The Birth House by Amy McKay (fiction) or The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin (non-fiction)

Single Parent by Choice

Spectrum Single Parent by Choice

Choosing to be a parent on your own is not a decision that is made lightly, from the decision itself, to the act of getting pregnant, to labouring without a partner to parenting solo can make you feel like one of those blow-up punching bags, where you keep popping back up for more punches. Parenting, no matter how you become a parent, will have it's challenges, and it will also have its joys.

If you are considering becoming a single parent, choice mom or parent by choice, Spectrum Doula Collective was created with you in mind! We understand all the questions you had to ask yourself, all the finances you had to sort out and plan for a future with babe, we also understand the decision making behind a known donor versus going with an anonymous donor. We understand the challenges, the judgment, and the curiosity from others which impacted each decision you made. We also understand the process in creating a co-parenting relationship, going through a fertility clinic and grieving the process of conceiving with a partner, or navigating through public and or private adoption options. We understand the ups and downs... we understand the desire to just want to parent.

If you are in the process of deciding whether being a single parent is right for you, we would love to share some of our favourite resources!

Rainbow Health Ontario has some great resources for non-traditional family creations. Here are some of their most relevant materials to journeying into single parenthood, highlighting the pros and cons of each option:

Guide to Choosing a Sperm Donor (Known vs Unknown)
Guide to Coparenting
Guide to Insemination Procedures

Another great resource right here in Toronto is The 519 Church Street Community Centre, which offers a Queer and Trans Family Planning course. Whether you identify as Queer, Trans or a straight single parent-to-be, this course is very inclusive and provides extensive information on all the different options available to becoming a parent. This course might be the most inclusive family planning course out there!

ChoiceMoms.org and SingleMothersByChoice.org are also good online resources and support, full of podcasts, ebooks, and forums to link up with others traveling a similar journey.

The Longest Shortest Time (one of our fave podcasts) has two great podcasts worth a listen: Episode #64 Should I Have Kids? and Episode #66 Momming It Solo.

Finally, CReATe Fertility Centre offers an On Our Own group for singles who are interested in becoming a parent or are a choice parent to share, discuss and explore feelings, and information in a safe and supportive setting. On Our Own gathers the 4th Thursday of every month between 6:30 - 8:30 PM.

*You may want to call CReATe and confirm dates and times with the clinic, in case they change.

We hope that no matter where your journey to parenthood leads that some of these resources came in handy. And if you ever need someone to chat to about the process, don't hesitate to get in contact with us!

And if you have any great resources that you think will be helpful to our readers, let us know by writing a comment, we would love to hear from you...!

Love,

The Spectrum Doula Team