It's been a few months since we announced the Full Spectrum Doula Care resident program. Getting to work with our these awesome women with all their new doula enthusiasm has been invigorating. Doula work is a unique field; every doula forges their own path and gets to answer the call to this work how they best see fit. So working with these women has not been so much about teaching them, but more like collaborating and combining forces.
We'd like you to be able to get to know them better so we asked them to each write briefly about why they became doulas. If you're interested in learning more or utilizing their services, check out their pages under the Our Doulas tab or mention who you'd like to contact when you fill out the form on our Contact Us page.
by Jenna Chidester
We wanted to update everyone on our scholarship fund. So far we have provided 3 birth packages, and we have 4 more scheduled through the Fall. We have done 83 hours of postpartum support. We’ve encapsulated 1 placenta and have 2 more scheduled, done 1 belly bind with 2 more scheduled, and provided 4 childbirth education classes. We were also gifted a water birth pool (thank you Anna Hope-Melnick, RN and Elliot Witherspoon, LPC) so we’re able to provide that free of charge to two home births coming up in the next few months. We are so grateful for all the donations that we’ve received that allow us to do this work. We really feel like we’re making strides toward our goals of providing the same quality of care to all, regardless of ability to pay!
We have also committed to putting $1 for every hour of postpartum support and $25 from every birth package we provide back into the scholarship fund. We are using that money to further our goal of helping to diversify and better educate the doula work force. To that end, we’re excited to announce that we have also started a residency program.
Rachel and I met during our initial DONA birth doula training that we took from Jesse Remer of MotherTree Doula Services in the Fall of 2015. We also both did the MotherTree internship without which we would not have been able to so quickly launch into full time doula work. We shadowed experienced doulas at meetings with clients and at births, got guidance starting our businesses, learned how best to work with hospital staff and home birth attendants, and were emotionally supported with a place to process through intense experiences we had as new baby birth workers. The internship was invaluable to us, and yet even from our privileged position as childless, educated white women, it was a stretch to be able to pay for and attend on top of working full time and having to make rent.
So the FSDC residency is not an internship or mentor program that costs money, instead we are providing the training and support as part of an exchange of services agreement with the attendees. Our new residents will shadow us to client meetings, births, and postpartum shifts, get trained on other birthy skills like placenta encapsulation and belly binding, have some outside trainings paid for through the scholarship fund, and get other guidance to help them blossom into the doulas they want to be, while they will help us by backing us up on postpartum services once they are trained, support us online and with marketing and networking, and help us plan our doula baby reunion and scholarship fundraising night that will take place in a few months (stayed tuned for our announcement on that!).
Since our residency program is about making full time, sustainable birth work possible for more people we took time finding the right doulas; Felecia Graham and Ariana Gast. We are so happy to have them both as part of the Full Spectrum family and wider Portland birth community! Look for their introductory posts here on the blog soon.
We are also opening up some of our residency trainings to other birth workers as classes, check out the list here. If you’d like to contribute to the scholarship fund or the residency program please donate here. And if you need doula services and can’t afford them, please apply for the scholarship here.
by Jenna Chidester
Full Spectrum Doula Care clients who spend over $800 on any service will also receive a 10% discount on Bump, Baby, or Brood session from Rushes and Waves.
You can check out more of Kimberly's beautiful work on her website. You can contact her here. If you'd like to add your photography to your labor support package please let your doula know.
by Jenna Chidester
Did you know that a labor support package from Full Spectrum Doula Care includes a 60 minute massage? We are serious about helping the birthing people we work with feel relaxed and as comfortable in their bodies as possible! When we were putting together our packages, we immediately knew we wanted to work with Bonnie. She understands how important it is to give new parents the time and tools to do real self-care, and not just focus on caring for the baby. She's an awesome person, mother, friend, body worker and doula who understands what the antenatal body needs to heal and thrive so we're delighted to have her as part of the Full Spectrum family.
We asked Bonnie to tell us a little bit about herself and her practice; "I have been a LMT for 18 years and I still absolutely love it! Three years ago I completed the Doula training internship with Rachel and Jenna at Mother Tree. That is when I became passionate about helping parents navigate the changes in their body during pregnancy, and after. Giving your body over to growing a human is a wild ride; I like to help guide clients back to themselves. It is easy put all the focus on baby and much harder to make your own body (and spirit!) a priority. I think that self care is a life long struggle for parents. This is where I come in. I am passionate about helping clients reconnect to their bodies, take time for themselves and recharge so that they can show up more fully for their loved ones.
"I am just now beginning to explore teaching parents infant massage. Touch is such a great way to connect with our loved ones. I think this is a particularly exciting opportunity for the parent that did not carry. I often hear how the parent that was not pregnant feels like they missed out on something, specifically nine months of deep connection. I think that massage can help build a bridge on the connection gap.
"After my Doula training it became really clear to me that the work is incredibly expansive. I am excited to work with Full Spectrum Doula Care because I know you come from the same roots. Families, pregnancy and births can take one so many forms. I love working with surrogate families, and all variations of LGBTQIA families. I realize that the needs of support expand beyond just the one carrying a child. It often took a village to get pregnant and will certainly take a village to raise it. Self care is vital for all involved. This is where my work as a Doula was really influenced my massage career. I love it when I can work with the whole family, whatever that looks like."
Bonnie offers 60 and 90 minute massage, both prenatal and postpartum, cranial sacral therapy, and will be offering infant massage and classes soon. She also offers a discount to teachers. Check out her website, or contact her at 503-313-9425 or email@example.com.
by Jenna Chidester
Part of what I love about being a doula is the inherently revolutionary nature of the work. Once upon a time I was a vocal music performance major and despite my passion for music I was so turned off by the constant competition that I eventually left the field altogether. But doula work is not competitive- when only 9% of births are attended by doulas there is no need to compete. There are so many people that need our services this work is truly abundant. So when Rachel and I started Full Spectrum Doula Care we committed to embracing the abundance mentality. We believe as we work from a place of abundance, striving to provide everyone who wants a doula with the highest quality of care regardless of ability to pay, that we will have plenty of work and our generosity will come back to us. So often the people who most need our support are the least able to pay and if doula work is just another luxury for rich, white women, I’m not that interested in doing it.
But if our goal is to support women and families, it cannot be done to the financial detriment of the (almost always) women who do this work. If money were no object both Rachel and I would love to offer our skills for free but we have to make rent every month here in Portland. We’ve been told we should not expect to make more than $40,000/ a year in this work. But if being a doula means you don’t make enough to raise a family yourself, it isn’t sustainable. This work is nourishing in so many ways but it can also be so tough on the body and spirit and burnout is a huge issue. In our years as full time doulas in Portland, we’ve seen too many good doulas leave full time doula work because they simply needed to make more money for their families. And if it’s difficult for white women like us to get into this field and make enough to survive in Portland, it’s got to be much harder for Women of Color and other marginalized groups.
We believe there’s got to be a way to both provide services for everyone regardless of ability to pay and to make sure that doulas are paid well. We just had to figure out how.
Late last year one of my client families who had paid for encapsulation had their placenta sent to be biopsied, so I brought their refund in cash to our first postpartum visit. These wonderful people tried to refuse the money and said it was a tip but I was hesitant to keep payment for work I hadn’t done until the new Dad said “use that money for someone who needs their placenta encapsulated but can’t afford it.” That moment is really when the idea for our scholarship fund was born.
It doesn’t happen that often but placentas do get biopsied or plans change so sometimes prepaid services are refunded, but that family is definitely not the first who tried to give me their refund as a tip- what if they had the option of donating part or all of their refund to other families in need? Working at our old agency we saw a few stray hours from postpartum packages that weren’t utilized before the baby aged out of postpartum care go unused all the time- what if that money was rolled over into a fund to pay for those who can’t afford to pay $30 an hour but desperately need the help we provide? We have people who want to get us a thank you gifts for our work all the time, and while we love massages and body oil and all the little trinkets we’ve received to remember the amazing people we get to work with by, what if we could point them to better way to use those dollars and generous inclinations that will help keep us sustainably working? So we started our scholarship fund.
The idea would be that those with true financial need would get high quality care from experienced doulas for free or low cost, and we could use the fund to pay the doulas at their normal market rate. That way we could help close the disparities in care that plague antenatal work in the US while creating a sustainable, flourishing business for ourselves and other doulas. We knew that our generous clients would help us make this happen and Rachel and I committed to donate any tips we received to the fund too. When we received $750 in tips within the first week of starting the fund we felt in our bones that this was confirmation that we were on the right track. We started planning all that we could do with that money and publicizing the fund so that people would apply. I really couldn’t shut up about how excited I was, talking the ears off of both colleagues and clients about how blessed we were to already have some money in the fund.
But when Rachel called me last week to say that one of our client families was pledging $15,000 this year and next to the fund, I was not ready. I knew we were on a good path and I believe in doula magic- the incredible way the universe (or whatever the hell is up there) regularly reveals itself in birth work, opening the windows of heaven and pouring out miracles- and I know that it’s real. But this is on a whole new level. Our current total in the scholarship fund is just shy of $17,000. We will be able to do so much with this money- many families will be touched, and we are so grateful to have the help as we start our new business. And this is only the beginning! I’m tearing up a little as I write this, I’m so thankful that I get to do this work.
To keep our scholarship fund going we are committing to being accountable- we’re going to keep a public record of how all scholarship funds are spent. We’re also working towards making the scholarship a nonprofit so that donations will eventually become tax deductible. We are also committing to enriching the doula world by using some of the funds to help train and/or mentor more aspiring doulas who are People of Color, Spanish speakers, and others who have been underrepresented in the birth worker world.
If you would like to help us make this magic, please donate to the scholarship fund here. If you have ideas on other ways to raise funds or would like to help us get nonprofit designation please contact us here. If you need doula services and can’t afford to pay please apply to the fund here. If you’d like to be kept up to date on news about the scholarship fund and Full Spectrum Doula Care please sign up for our newsletter here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
by Jenna Chidester
“The way a culture treats women in birth is a good indicator of how well women and their contributions to society are valued and honored.”
- Ina May Gaskin
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
- Marie Shear
I believe that working in reproductive health is a way to change the world, one person at a time. It is a work that focuses on ensuring every person has complete control of their body, and that each person entering the world is given the best start to life as possible.
I have always had a passion for understanding the way in which our bodies work, especially when it comes to the female reproductive system. Our education system in this country does not give us a good foundation to understand how our bodies work and what all the options are for interacting with our body, especially around reproductive decisions. That foundation of a lack of knowledge, trust and understanding of our own bodies bleeds into our culture’s fear and anxiety when it comes to childbirth.
The way in which families are treated during their initiation into parenthood is a good indicator as to how we (as people, a culture, a medical system) value women and women’s health. The way parents feel during their birth process, influences how they will feel as parents. If they feel supported, empowered to be an active part of the decision process, and confident in their ability to trust their own innate wisdom and intuition, then they will move into parenthood with greater confidence and trust in their ability to raise their family in the best way they can.
This is why I am a doula.
by Rachel Emery
I became a doula because I want to change the world. I know how that sounds but it’s true. Because I truly believe that doula work can and will change the world. Doulas can have such a profound effect at the very beginning of life and that ripples out to impact the whole rest of life. I don’t know of any other work that so drastically improves a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well being, where I get to help individuals in intimate, sacred, and personal ways on the micro level, and also advocate for broad, badly needed social and cultural change on the macro level, or where both my extremely orthodox Mormon upbringing and raging feminist and social justice warrior political stances make me a better tool to in the work. I became a doula because I love that it’s a balance of evidence based best practices and surrendering to the mystery that I’ve come to call birth magic. I became a doula because I know that women’s bodies were made to do this magic and I have supreme confidence in that fact, but I’m also so thankful that we live in an age of safe and accessible c-sections because I wouldn’t have my little brother Matthew if we didn’t. Doula work will change the world and I am grateful for how much it has changed mine.
by Jenna Chidester
I'm a full spectrum doula and childbirth educator, and staff doula at Providence Portland Medical Center practicing since 2015.
I'm a full spectrum doula and childbirth educator practicing in Portland, Oregon.