Toronto Doula

Beyond the Bio: Meet Emma

We are thrilled to introduce you to our newest doula - Emma! A few months back, Corina had the pleasure of meeting Emma for tea to chat about all things doula related. If you know Corina, you know that she’s soft spoken and almost never talks about herself but Emma is such a gentle open spirit that she got her talking - a lot! Emma is wonderful at holding space and putting you at ease. She’s always there when you need to check in and will be your biggest supporter - no matter what you’re doing! Learn more about Emma below.

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What drew you to doula work? 

I'd always wanted to work with women in some capacity, and I've been fascinated by pregnancy and birth ever since I was a kid. As soon as I began to research what doulas are and do, I knew it was perfect for me. I loved the idea of being able to provide emotional support, comfort and information to women/birthing people as they navigated their reproductive journey.

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

Probably a social worker, working with women and children. That's what I was on track to pursuing before I fell in love with birth work! I wanted to provide counselling, and have my own practice.

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

An artist! All I ever wanted to do as a kid was draw, so it sounded pretty appealing as a career. I still love making art, it's one of my favourite ways to self-care.

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

I would go to a cottage on a lake. Ideally, there would be a hammock involved. I would bring a big stack of books and someone I love and go off the grid for a bit.

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

I would sleep late and then make a big extravagant breakfast. There would definitely be some yoga, and then I'd spend the rest of the day outside with some of my favourite people. Maybe at a park, or by the beach. Donuts would be eaten.

What's your favourite thing (or two) that you have no guilt about indulging in? 

NAPS. I love, love, love a long afternoon nap. Also, coffee.

Name one thing…

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

That sometimes the best thing you can do as a doula is sit back and do nothing. I felt like I always had to be busying myself with something, but I eventually learned that sometimes just being there is all the support the birthing person needs in that moment.

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

Doing my doula training and deciding to pursue birth work as a career! It felt like the first big decision that I made that was truly for just myself and what was right for me. I didn't know anyone else who was a doula at the time, so it felt very unconventional and a bit scary!

... that usually surprises people about you: 

I used to do competitive synchronised swimming!

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

Avocados. I know that's such a classic, boring, millennial answer but they really are my staple food.

What’s your favourite…

Colour 

Yellow. But it changes all the time.

Animal 

I love otters! I'm also a major dog person.

Season 

Fall.

Toronto Cafe 

Juice and Java on Queen Street!

Birth Book 

Nurture, by Erica Chidi Cohen. The Birth Partner is a close second.

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.

What should you ask during a doula interview?

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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

 

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

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