The Poetry of Doula Life

I was recently reminded of the poetry of doula life through two separate experiences. One was a birth. The kind that make you cry. I cried. Even after all these years of doula work, watching a woman in her full power is by far the most amazing experience of my life.

This past weekend I did a doula training in Ottawa at Mama Goddess Yoga Studio. The doulas are given the option of creating a poster, a skit, a song, or a poem to help describe our role. I was wowed by the poem they created. Read it and think about the moments of awe you’ve experienced as a doula.

 


About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

 

 

A fan favourite: the all mighty rebozo

In today’s video, Stefanie Antunes and Jennifer Rogers review their favourite techniques with the all mighty rebozo. The rebozo is a fan favourite of most doulas and childbirth educators. We can most likely credit women in Mexico for this amazing woven wrap. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know) the origin of the garment is unclear, but most likely derived in the early colonial period, as traditional versions of the garment show indigenous, European and Asian influences.

Here we show a few ways you can use it and we link to some great resources for more videos and instruction as well. 

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Perfecting the Double-hip Squeeze

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

 

 

12th day – future of doula

On the 12th day of Doula School my Trainer Gave to Me….

8 thoughts on the future of the doula profession (video)

 

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

 

Day 11: 8 Thoughts on the Future of the Doula Profession

On the 11th day of doula school my trainer gave to me….

Thoughts on the Future of the Doula Profession

I follow a lot of Facebook doula groups and one of the comments I see regularly is something to the effect of ‘whether it’s possible to be a doula as a ‘real’ profession’. Or people comment about how ‘others in their lives have been negative about the idea of becoming a doula’ etc. So I thought I’d take a stab at sharing some thoughts around these ideas…cause they DRIVE ME NUTS!!!

8 Thoughts on the Future of the Doula Profession

1 – More doulas than ever are making a legitimate income from doula work.

I see more and more doulas making full-time incomes from doula work. Anywhere you look online and certainly around me in my urban centre, I’m seeing a lot of doulas make legitimate incomes from doula work. I know several who are the main income earner in their home. Now, this isn’t to say that people NEED to make a full-time income. A lot of people become doulas so they have more time with their children and do the work as a part-time income supplement to their family’s household income. I LOVE that this work can allow for many options!

2 – Doula agencies are becoming more common and more popular

When I started my doula agency around 2008 I had never heard of an agency before. I didn’t even call it an agency at that time. The wording would come a few years after as the concept gained momentum. I created an agency because I got calls from doulas and childbirth educators all the time who asked how I did what I did. My partner suggested I teach them how to do it. My original model was to teach but I quickly realized a lot of people didn’t want to learn how to do it; they wanted to do doula work. The business side of doula work stands in the way of a lot of people being able to do doula work. This is why the agency model has helped our profession grow. There is no shame in working for others! Heck, this concept of everyone needing to run their own practice is a waste! We’re so much stronger together and I am glad that those who enjoy the business side are finally able to make an impact for their families and other doulas who want to work in this model.

3 – There are more and more doula programs opening all over

You don’t need to look too far to find another doula program popping up. I am constantly seeing new stories about hospital doula programs, community programs, etc. More and more are paid programs, which to me is an absolute requirement for the future of doulas. But we all need to start somewhere and I’m grateful for the programs that run as volunteer programs for the benefit of our profession. These amazing programs get more traction and awareness and are a key stepping stone in getting funding for doula work.

4 – We’re seeing more funding for doula services

We’re also seeing more and more funding for doula services. I’ve seen two major funding initiatives in my community and more and more peopel are working on them all the time. I was part of a team that pitched a large funder and when I walked in the room I’ll admit I was a little worried that half the judges were older males (not typically the demographic that knows what we do), but to my utter delight, two of them had adult daughters who had used doulas and they spoke so highly of the value. We went on to win some funding from that pitch.

5 – Fees for doula services are increasing

Fees for doula work are increasing everywhere. Of course in urban centres we’re seeing significant package fees, typically over a thousand dollars and in some areas over $2,000! I think this shows how valuable the service is being perceived. In our area we’re seeing more people book us early 8-12 weeks which allows them to pay over a longer period of time. If you’re in a smaller area, don’t fret! We see lower fees in suburban areas and in rural areas too! But remember that your cost of living is lower and salaries are typically lower too. I’ve noticed that the typical doula package is about equal to a month of daycare in that area. Check it out and see if that works in your area too!

6 – There are more doula trainings than ever before

The last time I saw a count of trainings it was over 140! OMG. That seems crazy and I’d like to see that streamlined, but that’s a discussion for another time. The fact of the matter is… the reason there are SO many trainings is because doula work has become so popular. Yay!

7 – The word ‘doula’ is seen in media more often than before

We are always seeing celebrity interviews mentioning their doula. We see news articles, radio segments, TV interviews and more. Did you see the question on Jeopardy that had’doula’ as the answer? It’s so fun to see these mentions, but they definitely aren’t surprising me anymore.

8 – We’re more accepted by health care providers than ever before

The last several times I’ve walked into a birth I’ve been greeted with warm smiles and welcome comments. It is so refreshing from the days of old when I had to prove myself every time. If you still live in an area where you feel this way, keep the faith! I promise you, better times are ahead. Just look at all the progress we’ve made and continue to make!

If this isn’t representative of a growing profession, I don’t know what is! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

 

 

Day 10: Podcasts for doulas

On the 10th Day of Doula School my Trainer Gave to Me….

Some podcasts to listen to

A couple of years ago one of my friends kept talking about podcasts and I admittedly hadn’t gotten into them yet. When she pushed me to listen to one I actually had to ask ‘how?’. But since then I’ve become ADDICTED to them! I have always liked learning and had some years as a “self-help junkie” as I used to call myself. I had to actually stop buying self-help books for a while, lol. But now I listen to podcasts all the time! I always have a bunch I’ve subscribed to and the topics span a WIDE range. Some are self-help, some are inspiration, some are work-related, LOTS are about relationships. But they always make me feel like I’m learning and they INSPIRE me! And who can’t use more inspiration?! My favourite BY FAR is the SuperSoul podcast by Oprah. It’s SO good and always short enough to get through in one car ride 🙂

How to listen to podcasts

If you’re on an Apple product then just look for the purple icon that says ‘podcasts’. You can search for whatever topic and podcast you’re looking for and you can either download one to try it out, or you can subscribe to get all the episodes. If you download episodes when you’re on wifi then you won’t be using data when you listen to them.

If you’re on an Android, launch Google Play Music app. Tap the menu button (often top left) and tap ‘podcasts’. The rest should be pretty easy from there!

List of podcasts

Here are some podcasts that you might enjoy. Search for them in your podcast app. I’ll admit I haven’t listened to every single one, but they’re the ones that come the most highly recommended by doulas and parents!

Birthful

Progressive Parenting

The Taproot Doula Project

toRaise Questions Doula Podcast

Birth Kweens

Dr. Stu’s Podcast

Evidence Based Birth

Indie Birth – Women Own Birth

 

About birth and parenting:

The Longest Shortest Time

If These Ovaries Could Talk

Adriana Lozada at Birthful: Maternity, Doula & Greenproofing Services (Birthful Podcast)

The Birth Talks

Not By Accident

Mom and Mind

 

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

 

Day 9: Doula Resources

On the 9th Day of Doula School my Trainer Gave to Me…

Some super cool Doula Resources

During your doula training you SURELY went over a bunch of resources, but there is always SO much info throughout the training that you may have missed writing them all down. I thought I’d help you get a list started with some of my favourites here:

For evidence/info/associations:

Association of Ontario Doulas
Cochrane Database (for current evidence on most topics)
Lamaze International (for becoming a Lamaze Educator but also TONS of great info/resources)
Spinning Babies (great info for preventing and dealing with difficult labours/pregnancies)
Evidence Based Birth (great evidence in plain language)
Penny Simkins YouTube channel (for everything Penny 😉
Improving Birth Coalition
Society of Obstetricians and Gynacologists of Canada
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynacologists
Ontario Association of Midwives
Canadian Association of Midwives
Sarah Buckley (hormone research and info)

There is SO much available on BestStart that I want to highlight a few important areas
Here they have some newsletters for you to sign-up for and some past webinars, etc for you to view
Here they have TONS of research that is Canadian specific and that you can share with clients
www.ontarioprenataleducation.ca has the prenatal education key messages for Ontario. They do a bang-up job and share fun ways to TEACH these topics (if that’s in your scope)

Hope you find this helpful! Don’t forget to bookmark it!

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Day 8: Working collaboratively (vlog)

Working Collaboratively

The Doula profession is a newer one and working collaboratively is the name of the game for us these days. We’ve see great strides in many areas. Stefanie discusses ways you can work collaboratively and why it’s important. Read her written blog on the topic here

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it is to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Day 7: Playing nice – working as a team

On the Seventh Day of Doula School my Trainer Gave to ME….

Thoughts on playing nice in the sandbox

I’ll admit when I first became a childbirth educator (and later a doula), I did so because of my own disempowering birth experience (and a subsequent great experience). As a DONA trainer now I see how challenging it can be when we come into this field with those types of histories. Either becoming a doula to help others have a great birth like you did, or becoming a doula to “save” others from a disempowering birth are DIFFICULT reasons to become a doula. Because no matter what happens, I can guarantee you will feel triggered and disappointed at some point as you support others. What also tends to unfold when we haven’t healed from our own “stuff” before we embark on this path, is that we inevitably start to see the world as US vs THEM. And folks, that’s a DANGEROUS way to join the sandbox.

Working with Others

There are a LOT of people we work with as doulas or birth workers. We work with care providers, colleagues, community partners, and others we refer our clients to. It’s critical to establish and maintain these relationships over time. Nothing is as valuable as your reputation.

Growth

When we’re new we’re not really thinking too much about what the industry might look like in 5/10/15 years, but as someone who’s been a doula for longer than that, let me tell you that MATTERS. I am SO grateful for the effort that I and the other doulas in my area have put into fostering good relationships with others. We are now benefitting from that in my community. Don’t for a second think that what you do now won’t matter in 5 years. It sure will!

Behaviour

What you do now doesn’t just impact you and your client, but it impacts everyone around you. Imagine if a nurse has a bad experience with a doula….She will share her experience with those around her and I can assure it will take TEN GOOD EXPERIENCES with other doulas to make up for one bad one. So please understand that your behaviour affects EVERYONE in your industry. If you’re feeling burnt out, check out my article on Vicarious Trauma for help on what to do.

Hierarchy

One of the things that has really helped me work with other professionals in the birth room, especially in the early years when my role was met with much scepticism, was to take my ego out of the mix and allow myself to be at the bottom of the hierarchy system. Some of the ways you can foster good relationships with people who are sceptical of your role is to begin with bringing cookies, muffins, coffee/tea as you arrive at the hospital/birth. Then introduce yourself appropriately. As I begin to work with a new nurse (and every time a new nurse comes on), I do the whole thing all over again and I ask permission for EVERYTHING. How difficult is it to ask “hey nurse Susan, I was thinking of using a hot pack, what do you think? Is this temperature ok?”, “hey nurse Susan, I was going to get some more ice chips for X, can I grab you anything while I’m out?”, and on and on. I ask permission for things I don’t need to ask permission for because it shows my respect for their role and my submission to the hierarchy that is a part of the medical system we live within. Why not fit INTO the system where we can to work from WITHIN it? I can be an activist at boardroom tables and lawns, but in the birth room there is no room for activism.

Community Partners

Doulas should be masters at referrals. We need to know the lay of the land when it comes to helping our clients get the best support possible. So get out from behind your computer and go meet people! Go to networking events and business meetings. Or just plain ol’ go to their place of business and introduce yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Colleagues

Last but definitely not least is getting to know your colleagues. In this job we profess the importance of the ‘village’ that surrounds us. We need it as parents, but we definitely need it as doulas. I have been surrounded by the most wonderful doula colleagues a girl could ask for. I am humbled by the ways and times we work together and foster good relatioships with each other and the community around us for the good of everyone. I will continue to spend time and energy on this for the rest of my life. I absolutely LOVE how closely I work with and respect the people that society would deem my ‘competitors’. I say pftt to the word ‘competitor’ and encourage you to put your big girl panties on, stop taking things so seriously, accept to love and respect those around you (even when they have different opinions than you) and make nice in the sandbox.

Future of Doula

Next week as we close out the year I’m going to share some thoughts on the future of ‘doula’. I have seen so much growth over the past decade and a half of working in this field. Amazing growth. I am excited for what comes next, but I know without a shadow of a doubt it’s been possible (and will be possible) because of the relationships we all foster with each other and the professionals we work with. So please keep at it, even when it feels hard.

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Day 6: Making Prenatals FUN and Visual

On the Sixth Day of Doula School My Trainer Gave to Me….

How to Make Doula Prenatals FUN

Have you ever wondered how you can make doula prenatal visits more fun? I became a childbirth educatore BEFORE I was a doula, so I brought with me lots of thoughts on adult learning and the cone of learning (by Edgar Dale) around ways to ensure my doula clients actually remember what we practice and discuss. And really it’s just more fun to do prenatals that flow well and are enjoyable. Let me know what else you do to make YOUR prenatals fun!

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.