Queer Doula

What should you ask during a doula interview?

doula interview

This is one of the most frequent questions we get asked during doula interviews. If you google it you'll find a lot of questions to ask your potential doula - sometimes too many. Getting information is important but we suggest that getting a feel for the person you're interviewing is also important. Someone may look fantastic on paper and be a nice person but it doesn't necessarily mean that they're the best fit for you. 

During your perinatal journey you have a limited choice (if any) of health care providers. Maybe you like them, maybe you don't. Maybe you chose them for their particular skill set or location. In choosing a doula you can go with your gut feeling. Here are our tips on what to ask and do during a doula interview:

1) Think about what's important to you before the interview or even before contacting a doula. 

A while back we wrote two blog posts about what to consider when thinking about hiring a doula.  Do you want a certified doula trained with a specific organisation for insurance purposes? If you answered yes to this question than this is something you can easily find out before meeting the person - saving yourself a whole lot of time and emotional and mental energy. 

While we are on the topic of saving time and energy we highly recommend figuring out the doula is available and around for your estimate due date (if you're hiring a birth doula) before meeting them. Why meet with someone who may be unavailable or potentially away?

2) Pick a place where you feel comfortable. 

We can't stress this enough - you should feel comfortable chatting about yourself and your perinatal journey. No super public noisy rushed cafes! 

3) Ask about relevant experience and perinatal philosophy. 

A new doula might be as good as an experienced doula - there is no way to really know unless you hire them. That doesn't mean you can't ask a doula about their experience and take them into consideration. Some great questions are:

  • How many births have you attended?
  • How long have you been a doula?
  • Have you worked at X hospital/birth centre?
  • Why and how did you become a doula?
  • How do you see your role in this experience? How would you describe your support? 
  • What is your birth philosophy? 
  • Do you have additional training?

4) Ask about logistics. 

  • How would you work with my partner(s)?
  • How many births do you take a month? 
  • Do you work with a back-up? Could I/we meet them?
  • What's covered in your pricing? Does your pricing change if you are at my labour for a prolonged period of time? 
  • When do I call you if I'm in labour? What if I just have a questions?
  • When do you join me in labour? How long do you stay postpartum? 

5) Get to know the person. 

We think finding a doula so much more than asking doula related questions. Make small talk! Get a feel for their personality! Notice if they're receptive to that - mindfully listening and asking engaging questions in return. Have a meaningful conversation - this person may part of an important time in your life. 

6) Check in with yourself. 

This is the most important piece. Did you feel comfortable with the doula? Did they seem interested in you and what you want beyond answering questions? Does it "feel right"?

We know "feel right" is a hard feeling to quantify, sometimes though some people just click. If it doesn't happen, that's OK. It may build over time. 

7) Don't interview too many or too few doulas. 

Take it one at a time and sit with it a little while - unless you really clicked or you really didn't. Some people find their doula after the first interview, some find them after 2-3. We wouldn't recommend interviewing more than though as people will blend into each other. We suggest figuring out what's important to you and filtering doulas before contacting them. 

These are all our tips! Hope they help!

Love, 

The Spectrum Team

 

Thinking about hiring a doula? Here are some things to know - part 1

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"Having a person who unconditionally nurtures you during a major life experience is a privilege too few enjoy. Doulas provide this exquisite nonjudgemental support to others - often strangers - and touch people's lives in profound ways."                                                                 - Loretta Ross, The Doulas Radical Care for Pregnant People

You may have heard the word doula before - perhaps in a pregnancy, birth, and postpartum context; perhaps in a reproductive justice context. Or maybe you've never heard it before. 

A doula is a person (often woman-identified, but not always) who helps people during their perinatal journey - most often during their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum (but, again, not always). Depending on where are you during your perinatal journey doulas are an investment - both financially and emotionally (your doula may be with you between 4 to 100+ hours, holding space for you, and guiding you through vulnerable and emotional times). Below we touch on some questing to consider before deciding on a doula. 

1) What do you want a doula for?

While most doulas attend only births and/or offer postpartum support, fulls spectrum doulas are slowly emerging. Perhaps full spectrum doulas have always existed, but doula work began moving past only birth/postpartum support more significantly in 2008 when the Doula Project in NYC began training volunteer abortion doulas. 

Today, full spectrum care encompasses even more - doulas offer fertility, miscarriage, abortion, birth, postpartum, adoption, and surrogacy support. You can absolutely get a doula for any or all of these life's events - if you'd like to learn more about it, drop us a line. All of us at Spectrum Doula Collective are full spectrum doulas. 

2) What's the difference between midwives and doulas?

We get asked this question a lot. A midwife is a healthcare practitioner who studied midwifery in a university and a clinical setting. In Ontario, midwives are regulated by the College of Midwives of Ontario (CMO) and they are paid for by government under the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, meaning that residents of Ontario not covered by OHIP can still receive midwifery care for free. 

A doula is not a healthcare practitioner and as such does not do any clinical duties. A doula is trained by a doula organisation (although there are those who had been nurses or midwives and now solely practicing as doulas without specific training). Doulas not currently a regulated profession and are paid for out of pocket although some private insurances are starting to cover doula care (see below). 

While midwives are concerned with the health of you and the baby, doulas are concerned with your mental, physical, emotional, and sometimes spiritual well being. Doulas hold space for you and provide you with support, caring, and encouragement. 

3) What about certification?

Some doulas are certified, some doulas are not. There are many certifying organisations for doulas with different prerequisites. Most of them have a course section and a practical section. Some prospective doulas take only the course section and start practicing, some doulas do the practical as well but don't certify, some doulas do both and certify and some don't do either. 

There is no regulatory body for doulas. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if certification is important to you. 

4) Can your insurance cover it?

Sometimes. Some people can claim doula care under their health spending account with "flex dollars" built in; however, some insurance companies require that the doulas are certified through specific organisations (usually either DONA* or CAPPA). Some doulas are also RMTs or Naturopaths and may be covered through those designations (though this limits your choice of doula). 

*our doulas DONA-certified 

5) What about your partner(s)? (if applicable)

If you currently have a partner (or more) they (or you) may wonder if their role may change when hiring a doula. The short answer is yes. 

The longer answer answer is that your partner(s) role is amplified. Doulas provide partners with both the skills and confidence to support you. Doulas work with partners during all stages of your perinatal journey. 

 

We hope you found this useful - stay tuned for our part 2! If you have any questions, drop us a line

Love, 

The Spectrum 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

Beyond the Bio: Meet Kira . . .

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...!).

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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)

Beyond the Bio: Meet Corina . . .

When Corina is in your space you just somehow feel calmer. An incredible listener, a humble spirit, and an eternal student, makes Corina one of those people you meet and you just can't resist to get to know better. She will continually surprise you with the things she's done... but you have to be a good listener because she's a modest one and would prefer to learn about who you are!

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What drew you to doula work?

Nothing specifically drew me to doula work - I started teaching prenatal yoga and absolutely loved it. One day, a student asked me if I would be interested in supporting her during her birth. I agreed and fell in love with birth work. It was like coming home to a place I never knew existed and fitting in perfectly. Since then, I immersed myself in birth (and birth-related) work.

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

Medical Anthropologist.

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

Store cashier (since they got all the money).

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

The Romanian delta - we used to have a beach house there (but I am really not a fan of travelling and I'd be content staying home).

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

Tea and breakfast on my deck, a yoga class, a trip to the farmer's market, followed by baking (a lot).

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

Medical dramas and fantasy fiction - but especially new adult fantasy fiction (I am obsessed with the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas).

 

Name One Thing . . .

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

I can't control what people say to clients.

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

Choosing my current career - it was a difficult decision since most of my life I had aspired to be in academia.

. . . that usually surprises people about you:

I used to be an archaeologist working with geophysical methods!

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

Cheese.

 

What's your favourite . . .

Colour

Burgundy

Animal

Cat

Season

Autumn

Toronto Cafe

Rooster (on Broadview)

Birth Book

Birthing From Within by Pam England