DSF to showcase winners of their Birth Story Contest with a Birth Sharing Circle

The Doula Support Foundation is holding a free online event, the Birth Sharing Circle, to celebrate writers, birthers, and birth workers.

This event will showcase the winners of Doula Support Foundation’s Birth Story Contest. The Birth Sharing Circle will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. Reserve a spot through Eventbrite for this online event. Capacity is 100 participants, and on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, Kingstonist was told this event is half sold out.

The Doula Support Foundation (DSF) is all about celebrating the power of those who birth, DSF said in a media release dated Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020. Just as birth is a transformative experience, so too is the power of storytelling.

This free online event will also include a live performance by Canadian singer-songwriter Jenn Grant. The DSF welcomes birth workers, parents, parents-to-be, and anyone who has experienced pregnancy to this unique online event.

In an interview with Kingstonist, DSF shared that they have received birth stories from across Canada.

“Considering that we are a small organization, I am glad that we managed to have reached all these people,” stated Josée Leduc, Birth Story Contest and Birth Sharing Circle organizer, doula, and board member of the DSF. “What is absolutely stunning, when you read all the birth stories, is that they are all different, but they all show strength, vulnerability, and honesty. We have received stories of wonderful homebirths, but also stories of homebirth that end at the hospital, and hospital planned birth that ends at home or in a parking lot! We also received a story from a grandma who supported her daughter, we received a birth story of an elective C-section that shows how difficult it is to have to make this decision and I could keep going on and on.”

“Writing ones own birth story helps to process this important event, and it can have the same effect on the reader. That is the power of storytelling,” Leduc continued. “I think the variety of stories that we have received will resonate with many different readers. I felt that every single entry was an important story to be told. The readers and judges had a hard job to do in choosing the winners. We are going to publish one honorable mention story every Friday on our website until Christmas – don’t miss any.”

What is a Birth Sharing Circle?

This Birth Sharing Circle will showcase the winners of Doula Support Foundation’s Birth Story Contest. The intention of the birth story contest, now in its second year, was to source inspiring birth stories that help to cultivate a positive and supportive birth culture in our communities, according to the media release. The birth story contest is also a writing contest because well written stories have the ability to make people feel and understand deep emotions like no other medium. The DSF said they were absolutely humbled and moved by the stories that came pouring in. Read the winning stories here.

According to the DSF, this event will give a voice to birthers with the intention of positively changing the culture around birth to one of strength and resilience, and of solidarity. It will also promote empowerment and honesty around the diversity of birth experiences.

“A positive culture around birth is one that is based on trust, support, respect, and encouragement, rather than a culture around birth that takes the power away from birthing people and is based on fear, belittling and patronization of the birth experience,” said Laura Pascoe, DSF co-founder and Director of Doulas. “There is often an undermining of birthing people’s ability and right to be an active and informed participant in decision-making around their care. And even to be the primary decision-makers throughout their pregnancy and birth experience. Within a positive birth culture there are all kinds of births—planned cesareans, natural/physiologic births, home births, inductions, hospital births—but the key is that discussions around birth are grounded in a deep respect and admiration of birthing people and the capacity of bodies to birth, rather than being based on fear-focused and medicalized rhetoric that takes the power away from birthing people and takes more of a “you will be told only so much as you need to know” approach.”

Hosts of the Birth Sharing Circle

The Birth Sharing Circle will be facilitated by Laura Pascoe. DSF is honoured to be facilitating the Birth Sharing Circle alongside the judges and readers of the Birth Story Contest:

• Dr. Michael C. Klein (Order of Canada), well known for his book Dissident Doctor: My Life Catching Babies and Challenging the Medical Status Quo, was one of the judges of the contest. He will provide a short intro about maternity care in Canada.

• Two local published writers, Leanne Lieberman and Ying Lee, and a Kingston local midwife Sarah Chisholm, who will be presenting the first-three placed winners of the writing contest.

The readers will present some of the honorable mention winners. Each writer will have the opportunity during the event to share/read their stories. After each story there will be opportunity for engagement with the audience and hosts.

To end the Birth Sharing Circle, Jenn Grant will offer a virtual live performance of her song, Happy Birthday, Baby. DSF say they are thrilled that she has accepted to perform at the Birth Sharing Circle, and say it will be a very heartwarming and celebratory event.

Additionally, as a non-profit struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, and trying to find avenues for fundraising, DSF hopes that this event will inspire others to donate to their cause.

“This contest and event were ‘born’ here in Kingston, with the doulas of the Doula Support Foundation, some local writers and the local midwives who believed in this project,” Leduc shared with Kingstonist. “I believe that having unique events like this coming from Kingston makes the city shine, and the Doula Support Foundation too. It would be great to see both the DSF and the Birth Story Contest grow every year, from right here in Kingston. For that, we need many talents: editors, graphic designer, marketing specialist, fundraiser, grant writers. We need people who are passionate about maternity care to volunteer and make it happen.”

About the Doula Support Foundation

The Doula Support Foundation (DSF) is a non-profit in Kingston, Ontario that provides high quality, non-judgemental, and affordable full-spectrum doula services as well as childbirth education to low-income families and the broader community. DSF provides its pregnancy, pregnancy loss, birth, and postpartum services through a trauma-informed and harm reduction approach.

“We believe that we have developed a doula care model that fills a gap in maternity care for all. The DSF offers not only the service of birth doula, but also postpartum doulas, loss and termination support, and childbirth classes,” Leduc explained. “This is a model that could expand in many communities, and means support for women and young families that is so much needed in this time of COVID-19.”

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