family planning

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

Hiring a Doula_1.png

 

"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

5 ways to improve sperm health

sperm health.png

Recently, we attended a seminar on Sperm Health at the Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic to learn more about improving sperm health and how important this is when trying to conceive.

Improving sperm health is so important when trying to conceive whether or not you are undergoing fertility assistance. Often when talking about fertility and conception the emphasis is placed on the health of the egg and/or uterus. This can put a lot pressure on people with these organs and make them feel solely responsible for challenges in trying to conceive and guilty when it doesn't go quite as planned. It was refreshing to see a seminar focused on sperm health! 

Improving sperm health can be both simple and accessible since you can do this mostly through lifestyle changes. Here are a couple of easy to implement strategies to improve sperm health:

1) Eat foods high in zinc

Foods high in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds or oysters, can boost testosterone and promote sperm count and motility.

2) Eat foods high in antioxidants

Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as almonds, walnuts, or pomegranate juice, help improve overall health and increase blood flow (meaning better erections).

3) Ejaculate often

Out with the old, in with the new - based on an Australian study frequent ejaculation decreases sperm DNA damage and maintains fertility range. Pretty easy, right?

4) Have good oral health

A 2014 study linked poor oral health and periodontitis with low sperm count! 

5) Use sperm friendly lubricants

Enough said! 

If you would like to learn more, read their blog on Semen Analysis which contains information on what factors impact sperm health and the full list of diet and lifestyle recommendations.

Naturopathic strategies (acupuncture; herbs and supplements; nutrition and fitness planning; etc) can be extremely beneficial for reproductive health. Individualized health and wellness support is essential in trying to conceive and can have positive impacts on the overall experience.

We are thrilled to find resources like the Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic! We encourage you to check out everything they offer, whether you are just starting trying to conceive or hoping to complement your ongoing fertility care! 

At Spectrum we understand how challenging this journey can be and offer emotional support and provide education and information to help you have the best experience during this time. Fertility Doula support is for anyone who could benefit from support throughout their conception journey. Contact us to learn more about how we can support you in your fertility journey.  

Love, 

The Spectrum Team

Book Review: Choosing Single Motherhood

Choosing Single Motherhood
I wasn’t prepared when my two and a half year old son asked, ‘So did my dad die or what?’ I thought the question would come up later than that. [. . .] By the time he was 6, he’d introduce himself by shaking hands and saying ‘Hi, I’m Ryan and I’m a donor baby.’ It wasn’t intended to shock people. For him it was simply part of who he was
— Wendy Kramer, Choosing Single Motherhood (270)

Perhaps you're thinking about being a single mom, parent, or you have a friend who has been considering it, and every time you look for a resource online, in the library, or book store, your search is largely dominated by resources targeted toward two-parent families. Although the #choicemom community has been around for decades (yes! decades), unfortunately, there are still limited resources for those looking to be a parent on their own. However, we are lucky that Mikki Morrissette, founder of ChoiceMoms.org (another fantastic resource), has written a wonderfully comprehensive book about Choosing Single Motherhood.

Choosing to be a choice mom (a woman who chooses to conceive or adopt without a life partner) is not a choice that comes without significant thought and planning around finances, security, sacrifices, and changes that will need to be made to support this new little family member. And this is before any thought is given to how this little one will come to meet us. In Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman's Guide (2008) Mikki Morrissette walks you through each step from those initial considerations whether being a single parent is right for you, choosing how to bring this little one in to your life, and the challenges faced by choice mothers.

Where this book succeeds

Considering this book is nearly 10 years old, it is still very relevant. It does justice to the very serious questions around how to conceive as a single mom, key issues to consider when weighing the pros and cons between choosing a known donor (i.e. someone you know), or unknown donor (i.e. sperm bank), and if an unknown donor is chosen the debate between an open ID donor versus a closed donor, and of course Morrissette dedicates a whole chapter to adoption as an option.

With every topic that Morrissette covers, whether it be about loss of a family dream, the debate around being raised 'without' a father (and how to answer the 'daddy' question), or how to get through the day-to-day parenting grind when doing it solo, she provides an array of anecdotes from choice moms, some of them positive, some of them not so ideal, but providing a full spectrum of considerations to each thoughtfully chosen topic.

Points worth noting

Morrissette shares several anecdotes from her choice mom peers about discrimination from various doctors and fertility clinics who either denied or made it difficult for single women to receive fertility support. I do genuinely hope that there has been a shift in care for single women seeking to conceive or adopt as a solo parent since this book has been published. I can attest that this kind of discrimination is exceptionally uncommon or nonexistent among fertility clinics in Toronto. Because Morrisette is based in the United States it is also important, whether you plan to use a known or unknown donor, co-parent with a known-donor, get help from a surrogate, or adopt, to explore the legalities in your community. Parental and legal rights vary from province to province, and state to state, and of course from country to country and it is important that you be fully aware of any legal roadblocks no matter how you choose to create your family. 

This book is written specifically for cis-gendered women who want to be single parents, and is not trans-inclusive. Despite the lack of inclusivity, this book can still be used as a springboard to harvest more information for single trans-men who may want to use donor sperm or adopt, OR trans-women who may be interested in adoption (unfortunately the book does not talk about surrogacy as an option). Many of those basic questions around finances, security, how to handle the daily grind are relatively universal to all parents doing it solo, although every person has unique circumstances that play a role in their family structure.  

Becoming Single Mother

We would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is considering being a single parent. There are not a lot of resources out there in print for women considering to be choice moms, and although there is room for some updating, Morrissette a choice mom herself, provides a relatively unbiased perspective on all the major topics around choosing single motherhood (plus a ton of solo parenting and self-care survival tips).

At Spectrum Doula Collective we work with new parents daily, and parenting can be and feel very isolating. One thing that Morrissette talks about as essential for the solo mom is widening that social circle even if this is something that doesn't come naturally, she explains: "Most of them won't become close, long-term friends" (236), but a network is necessary for support, to normalize your experiences, and to provide balance for both you and your child's.

Have you heard the parable of the glass of water? Lift a glass of water and it doesn’t take much effort. One minute, okay. One hour, your arm start to ache. One day, you need a doctor. The weight never changes, but the longer you lift it without a break the heavier it becomes. You need to put it down and rest before holding it again. After we’re refreshed, it doesn’t seem like such an effort again.
— Mikki Morrissette, Choosing Single Motherhood (250)

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