The third edition of the Doula Support Foundation’s Birth Story Contest is now open for submissions. The purpose of the contest to cultivate a positive and supportive birth culture in our communities through inspiring birth stories.
The Doula Support Foundation (DSF) started the contest to shine a 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.
This year the contest is bilingual. According to Josée Leduc, DSF’s Birth Story Contest creator, DSF board member, doula and translator, it’s almost like there are two contests running simultaneously. Two jury panels will decide on three winners overall.
“We have brought together a jury that we hope will encourage people from different communities to submit their stories, including Karen Lawford, Indigenous midwife and professor at Queens University,” Leduc shared with Kingstonist. “This is a writing contest about giving a voice to all birthers and creating a birth culture of solidarity, strength and resilience. COVID-19 has not made it easy to navigate pregnancy, labour and birth, and postpartum with less support than ever for new parents. We would like to hear about all birth experiences.”
The Birth Story Contest is open to all people living in Canada and entries will be accepted until Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. Interested writers can find more details, including the full list of jurors and how to enter, in both English and French, at https://www.doulasupport.org/birth-story-contest-2021.
Winners will be announced on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. The first-place winner will receive a $200 cash prize. Second-place earns $100, and $50 will go to the third place entry. Each of these entries will be published on DSF’s website.
DSF received many great stories last year, some of which were COVID-related, according to Leduc. They can be seen on the DSF website. “What I love about all these stories is that they are all very different,” she said. “There are so many different stories, from home birth to cesarean, with different care providers from coast to coast. Those stories bear witness of how births really happen in Canada. It also brings life and depth back to birth, which far too often has become reduced to a medical event.”
The contest winners will be invited to a Birth Sharing Circle to present their stories in October on Zoom. This is an occasion where the jurors, readers, and winners can share their birth and writing experiences in a non-judgemental space, according to Leduc. All participants as well as the public will be invited.
“Following our highly emotional, compassionate and empowering Birth Sharing Circle with the writers and jurors last year, the DSF started Virtual Birth Sharing Circles (unrelated to the Birth Story Contest) open to all who want to share their birth experiences, or listen and hold space,” Leduc shared. “We felt that many women need a safe space to be able to share their birth experiences and connect with other birthers, even more so with COVID-19 isolation.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, doulas and other pregnancy and birth support is limited in the hospital setting. DSF currently provides virtual childbirth classes and looks forward to resuming in-person classes, Leduc shared. “Virtual childbirth classes will stay, as it is very convenient for many busy parents and parents-to-be who live in rural areas around Kingston,” she said.