In the midst of this pandemic uncertainty, the Doula Support Foundation (DSF), a local non-profit, is launching the second edition of their Birth Story Contest.
“It feels strange to launch this project during the pandemic,” said Josée Leduc, DSF’s Birth Story Contest Organizer and board member. “At the same time, giving a voice to birthing people has never seemed as important as right now. Maternity care has been greatly affected by COVID-19, as safety became the number one concern.”
The DSF is all about celebrating the power of giving life. The Foundation wants to create a movement that fosters a positive and supportive culture around birth, so parents and babies have a great start in that big life adventure.
“Birth experiences are as powerful and diverse as birthers are. The intention of the birth story contest is to get inspiring birth stories that have the capacity to change lives,” Leduc continued. “Well-written stories have the ability to make us feel and understand deep emotions like no other medium, and so this is also writing contest!”
Leduc explained why the contest and, more importantly, the concept behind it, is so important to her organization.
“As doulas, we know the joys, frustrations, surprises and struggles of giving birth. Each story is different and we hope to read stories from everywhere in Canada. We are welcoming many different voices and perspectives which are representative of the population of Canada. We want to be able to share all kinds of births, in different settings with different health care providers and support teams in different eras,” she said.
“We believe that sharing birth stories is important because they give a voice to birthers and a point of view that is holistic. Parents-to-be are starving to know what it is like to give birth and stories can give a realistic and inspiring insight into the birthing experience.”
The Doula Support Foundation started this contest to shine light on doula care and the importance of feeling supported during one’s birth experience. While stories without doula support are very much welcome, DSF hopes that the evidence on doula care will be showcased in some birth stories, and the doula’s role better understood by this initiative.
Entries will be accepted from June 1, 2020, until August 1, 2020 and the Birth Story Contest is open to all people living in Canada.
Prizes to be won: $300 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place.
Panel of judges: Michael C Klein, doctor and author; Ying S Lee, author; Leanne Lieberman, author; Sarah Chisholm, midwife.
The winning stories will be shared on DSF’s website, with a larger collection of entries being curated into their first edition of their Birth Stories Book.
For further details on the Birth Story Contest, visit the DSF website: https://www.doulasupport.org/birth-story-contest-2020
“The Doula Support Foundation’s mission is to make caring and inclusive pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum services and education available to low-income families and the broader Kingston community,” said Laura Pascoe, DSF Director of Doulas
DSF started because a group of local doulas wanted to find a way to be able to offer full-spectrum doula care to all birthing people, particularly the most vulnerable population, at little or no cost while still fairly compensating doulas for their training and expertise. This includes birth doula services as well as postpartum services and support in cases of pregnancy and infant loss, including pregnancy termination. As such, Doula Support Foundation was founded in October 2018 and began offering services in September 2019. Individuals who have an annual income of $40,000 or less are eligible for DSF doula services, with the client cost between $30-$75, depending on need.
Additionally, Childbirth Kingston asked the Doula Support Foundation to take over its well-known and loved childbirth education classes after it closed and, since January 2020, DSF has been able to offer childbirth education classes with the same great evidence-based content and excellent teachers. In the COVID-19 context, these courses have now moved online. DSF is also working on getting its Charity Status to become eligible to apply for larger grants that will enable a more sustainable future.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected our ability to provide doula care in our usual way,” points out Chelsea Loutsenko, DSF chair. “Hospitals are currently only allowing one support person per birth, so doula care in the hospital setting is often now only available virtually. In Kingston, doulas are still allowed in addition to other support at home births, which has been a wonderful asset for many clients. The usual prenatal and postpartum meetings that doulas provide are now generally offered virtually instead of in-person, but these still offer invaluable tools and content to prepare clients for birth and post-partum. In light of the financial strain so many are under as a result of COVID-19, DSF is currently offering its doula services at no cost to eligible families. Doulas are trained to provide emotional, informational, practical, and physical support to pregnant people during pregnancy, throughout labour and birth, and in the immediate postpartum period. They provide evidence-based, non-judgmental care that allows birthing people to make informed decisions about their body, their labour and birth, and their baby. Doulas do not undertake any medical or clinical tasks, but they provide invaluable and complementary care. “
Jessica is a busy working mom who enjoys writing, editing, and photography. She loves raising her family here in Kingston and tries hard to enjoy all Kingston has to offer. You can find more of her writing on her blog A Modern Mom’s Life, and see what she gets up to with her family on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!