fertility

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 Grounding Practices during your Fertility Journey

ground practice

As full spectrum doulas we work with many people at different points in their perinatal journey. This includes supporting folks through their fertility journey - this includes anything from attending appointments with our clients, providing information, as well as providing a listening year when needed. We love to equip our clients with coping strategies for all (if not most) situations - whether we are there or not. 

 

For those times when we may not be there, here are 5 grounding practices you can do on your own:

1) Drink a warm beverage

Hear us out - we live in Canada and about now (mid-February) we are only drinking warm beverages - tea, coffee, hot chocolate, warm smoothies, hot broth, etc. It just makes us happy and we think you may enjoy it too. It's cosy and hygge. It makes us focus on the present and warms up from the inside out. 

2) Count your breaths

Give it a try - try counting 100 or 150 breaths. It doesn't matter if you think about other things - go back to one and remember it's not a race or a test. Pay attention to your breaths as you count them and as you reach close to 100 or 150 you may notice your breath pattern changing and your nervous system calming. 

3) Dance* for 5 minutes

Set your timer and (without music) dance - hardIt releases tension from both your body and your mind. (Meredith Grey does it)

*If dancing just isn't for you, job quickly on the spot or air punch forward and sideways #accessible

4) Get outside for an hour or two

We know it's cold outside but you could bundle up! Take a walk in a park, on a trail, on a busy street - whatever works for you (but watch our for that ice!). The change of scenery, air, and pace might get you thinking about other things - or about nothing at all. Consider it your pause and recharge. 

5) Call/meet a friend

We are social creature - even those of us who are introverted benefit from people around other people. Be mindful of when it's time to leave the social interaction for self-care. 

We hope you gives these practices a try and see what works for you! 

Love, 

The Spectrum Team

5 ways to improve sperm health

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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

Finding my support through IVF

I never thought I'd have to go through IVF. I suppose not many people do - but work gets busy, life gets busy, and having a baby remains a nebulous possibility. Until it doesn't.

At age 39, after several years of trying (naturally) and IUI (intra-uterine insemination) attempts, I finally relented and agreed to try IVF. I wasn't sure what to expect and my husband knew even less. We went through several clinics and we felt lost in the sea of people trying to have a baby, with doctors and nurses always too busy to answer all of our questions and to hold our hands through the process. 

And so I did what I do best - research! Throughout that research though, I still felt like I wanted support, not just information. That's how I came across Spectrum Doula Collective. I knew about birth doulas but I didn't know about doula fertility support! My doula, Corina, has been invaluable throughout the whole process.

Corina's help was crucial on two occasions that many of you may not even think of as traditionally associated with a doula. First, she accompanied me to my hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test, which I was convinced - based on Google searching - would be one of the most terrifying experiences on earth. I had postponed this visit for over a year and if it hadn't been for Corina I would have never moved forward in my fertility journey.

 Corina squeezes my feet in encouragement

Corina squeezes my feet in encouragement

But she was there for me and she did a great job of explaining the science behind the procedure and all possible outcomes and, most importantly, comforting me when I was scared. As a result, the entire experience was positive and our bond grew from it.

It was thus no surprise that she was the person of choice to accompany me to the fertility clinic for an egg retrieval operation. I wasn't nearly as scared going into it because I knew I would be with someone who not only cared, but was also cool-headed and knowledgeable as to how to best handle me before, during, and after the procedure.

My husband and friends also care, but they aren't as great on the other two counts (needle-phobia, anyone?) and the least thing I needed on that day was worrying about someone ELSE's experience.

The procedure wasn't easy but Corina's presence made a huge difference. She made me relax, she made me laugh, and above all she made me feel safe. The picture is an 'after' shot in which she is squeezing my feet in encouragement. About an hour later we were at laughing at the outrageous, 'under sedation influence' topics we had covered while I was on the operating table. I felt relieved and hopeful.

I still do - and I am wholeheartedly (and bravely) navigating the rest of my fertility journey with Corina (and my loved ones by my side). 

Written by Spectrum Doula Collective Client

 

At Spectrum Doula Collective we work with the whole spectrum of families (including single, LGBTQIA+, and polyamorous folks) who are trying to conceive. We will attend important appointments at the fertility clinic for uncomfortable tests, such as the egg retrieval process, hysterosalpingogram (fallopian tube test), and insemination/in vitro fertilization. Our goal is to instill confidence and provide emotional and physical support for clients who are trying to conceive, or hope to be a parent later on.