Prison Birth Project in Western MA looking for new volunteer doulas

A fabulous organization in Western Massachusetts is looking for new volunteer birth doulas. They work with folks who are incarcerated at a local prison, work that I think is among the most important we can do as a doulas.

More information:

Our organization follows a reproductive justice model of care, which recognizes that multiple oppressions are at play in creating a lack of access to healthcare and rights and furthers reproductive oppression. We see reproductive healthcare, rights and justice as inherently connected to human rights and social justice and seek to provide care in align with those beliefs. The model we provide is holistic and centered on the whole experience, body and mind of the people we work with.

The nature of the work we do is sensitive. You will encounter situations both medical and personal experiences that you may not have encountered within your practice before, because of this we are selective about our doulas and seek to provide a high level of care (DON’T let this intimidate you!). You do not need to be a certified Doula, just have some solid birth or abortion doula experience. You must be open and committed to learning new ideas and concepts as well as medical information and researching on your own at times. Once we receive applications we will select candidates, we will set up a time to have a 15 min phone interview with you and invite you to an upcoming training for PBP doulas. You will be required to complete a application at the correctional facility and will have a criminal background check (you may have a previous criminal record, but can not have any open cases/warrants/parking tickets or violations), you will attend a 2 hour orientation at the jail and then be able to attend births, classes and groups with PBP.

We ask for a volunteer commitment of at least 1 yr. This does not mean you are oncall 24/7, you can either take individual clients or volunteer shifts to be oncall, but you must attend one on one appointments with clients at times throughout the year. The facility we work in is located in Chicopee, Ma and the hospital that most clients are transfered to is in Springfield, you are required to be at the facility or hospital within 1.5 hrs or being called. Some clients may be released before they deliver (which is the best case scenario) in these situations we still provide Doula care to clients and are able to refer them to other medical providers if they wish to change bc of medical conditions (we have homebirth midwives and other hospitals to refer clients with certain situations).

The full application is here.


Two Texas volunteer doula programs

Thanks to the folks who emailed me about volunteer doula programs, we’ve got a few new ones listed!

Project H.A.P.P.Y. in Dallas Texas and Giving Austin Labor Support in Austin Texas.

Check out the resource page for programs around the country (now up to 30 and counting!).

As always if you have ones to add, please email them to me.

New volunteer doula programs added to resource page

Just wanted to let folks know that I’ve been adding new volunteer doula programs to the Volunteer Programs Resource Page. Thanks to everyone who has sent me info about programs!

We now have 27 programs listed, including four outside the United States!

If you know of other programs I haven’t listed, please send them my way via email.

The Doula Project (NYC) is recruiting!

I can not say enough good things about this doula organization (and that’s not just because I was one of the founders). Lauren, Mary and all the amazing folks involved with this group have taken an amazing idea–providing support to pregnant folks across the spectrum of pregnancy–and created a vibrant and radical organization.

They’re recruiting for their next training this summer. They’re looking for trained birth doulas as well as folks who want to train as abortion doulas.

All the details are here.

New Jersey community doula fellowship seeks would-be doulas

Jill Wodnick alerted me to a new community doula program in New Jersey that is looking for folks who want to become doulas.

In exchange for three volunteer doula births for women in need in Hudson County, NJ, you get access to a free doula training (provided by DONA) and what sounds like some great supplemental trainings.

The Hudson Perinatal Doula Fellowship runs June 21-August 16, 2010. Applications are being accepted immediately on a rolling basis and can be downloaded at The fellowship is open to 25 women who commit to the responsibilities and goals of program.

In addition to the DONA Doula Training dates, required by DONA International which are four full days, 8:30 am-6 pm June 21-24, 2010, the women accepted into the Doula Fellowship will further commit to complete all supplementary cross-training components of the program. Supplementary trainings will take place from June 28-August 16, 2010 for approximately 6 hours per week. Attendance is necessary and required.

In addition to the cross-training workshop attendance and the required reading materials, Fellows will commit to provide birth doula care to three expectant women who are clients of Hudson Perinatal Consortium, and attend those three births in Hudson County birthing facilities by December 1, 2010.

Interested? Download the PDF with all the details.

Making the radical a reality

There is a great article up at RH Reality Check, written by Mary Mahoney, one of the founders of The Doula Project. I’ve written about the NYC-based Doula Project before, and am honored to have been one of the founders.

All the credit for what the project has become goes to co-founders Mary and Lauren, who took some very early stage ideas about providing doula care to folks having abortions and turned it into this amazing project which supports people throughout all stages of reproductive life, including abortion, fetal anomalies, miscarriages, adoption and birth.

I think this project takes doula care to its natural end–we’re there to support pregnant folks, through any and all decisions.

The Doula Project has served over 500 pregnant people since the fall of 2008, guided by the mission of providing free compassionate care and emotional, physical and informational support to people facing birth, abortion, fetal anomaly, or miscarriage. The foundation of our project is built on meeting pregnant people where they are, something I’ve taken with me from working four years in the reproductive justice movement. This connects to our belief that pregnant people should be trusted to make the choices that are best for them and that their experiences and the memories of those experiences should be honored.

Doulas hold a unique position in health care as non-medical lay people who are there solely for the pregnant person. The birth doula movement has certainly grown over the past few years, and innovative and radical projects have expanded care for pregnant people who might otherwise not receive it, such as young mothers and women in prison. During this time, The Doula Project has been building on a new model of doula care: one that supports pregnant people having abortions and choosing adoption.

Read the whole article here and check out the Doula Project here.

UPDATE: There is another great article about the Doula Project in the Brooklyn Link.

Volunteer Program Spotlight: Open Arms Perinatal Services in Seattle

Peggy Fitzgerald, the Board Chair of Open Arms Perinatal Services, emailed me recently to tell me more about her organization. I thought I’d share what she had to say in this post.

I actually interviewed some of the folks at Open Arms last year for an article I wrote about access to home birth in Washington State for RH Reality Check. You can read it here.

Here is what Peggy had to say about their program:

We’re a group in the Seattle area who provide doulas for low income women – but as far as I know, we’re the only organization in the country that provides PAID (market rate) doulas for women serving this population, free of charge to our clients. We believe strongly that as much as women deserve to be served regardless of ability to pay, women also deserve to be paid for their work (because women’s work IS valuable, right?), and we pay market rate to our doulas to serve the population. How’s that for radical?

Of course, we’re challenged by funding, as are many other organizations, and this year due to county funding being cut for us along with most small nonprofits, we were able to make up the gap through having volunteer doulas supplement our paid doulas. Even our volunteers however are paid a stipend to defray cost of serving our clients – so no one has to serve for free. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, we could not only serve as many clients as we served in 2008, but we exceeded that number by 28% in 2009. However our paid doulas still are going strong and we hope next year to increase the amount of doulas we can pay, because it’s a core belief of our organization.

I agree with Peggy that is it great to provide doulas to women who would otherwise not have access and still be able to pay the doulas for their time. Volunteering in itself is a luxury, and not all of us have the time or the means to do unpaid work.

Peggy also alerted me to the new Open Arms blog, which you can check out here.

For more info, visit their website.

And just out of curiosity, is Peggy right? Is Open Arms the only volunteer doula program that fundraises enough to pay their doulas? Let us know in comments!

Volunteer Program Spotlight: The Doula Project (NYC)

I’ve written about The Doula Project before. They used to use the name, The Abortion Doula Project, and Mary Mahoney, one of the founders, was featured in a Radical Doula Profile.

I wanted to highlight their project again because it’s awesome, but also because they just launched a new and expanded website.

I’m proud to say I was a founding member of the Doula Project. While things really got started after I had stopped working directly with the other two founders (due to a move away from NYC) I’m so proud to be connected to them, even in a small way. Their work truly is amazing and has grown so much since those initial conversations.

After one year, we have served over 500 women in the NYC area. In 2010, we will expand our service to at least 2 more NYC clinics to serve women having abortions or experiencing fetal loss, at least 1 hospital/organization to serve women giving birth, and support and train at least 2 affiliate organizations in the U.S.

Their tagline, “supporting people across the spectrum of pregnancy,” really says it all. What is so radical about their work is that they take the concept of a doula to it’s logical end–supporting folks throughout all their reproductive choices: birth, abortion and adoption.

Check out their website here. Congrats Doula Project!

Volunteer Program Spotlight: Family Health and Birth Center, Washington DC

In order to highlight the work of the great volunteer doula programs around the country, I’m going to have guest posts from folks involved with those programs to talk about their work. The first guest post comes from Katie Daily, who coordinates the volunteer program at the Family Health and Birth Center in Washington DC.

I’ve actually recently gotten involved with the program and am inspired by the diversity of the doulas involved and their passion for birth activism. Thanks to Katie for the guest post!

Here’s Katie:

“…having a doula there was my balance. I was still taking care of my family, and their needs, my doula was there to take care of me.”- Kari, FHBC mother of two

Family Health and Birth Center follows the DONA International mission of “a doula for every woman who wants one.”  Located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Washington, DC, FHBC provides multidisciplinary health care in a social context by building on the existing strengths of the families being served.  A team of midwives, nurse practitioners, community health workers, and administrative staff work together to achieve impressive clinical outcomes.  Success is evident by low rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, and cesarean section as compared to those of similar families in the District.

Doulas provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support the mother before, during, and just after childbirth.  Many of our doulas volunteer their services through an on-call calendar, while others are contracted to provide intensive long-term relationships to pregnant women at-risk for preterm labor.  These dual programs ensure that FHBC can offer doula support to all women in our care. Doula care complements the individualized, evidence-based care offered by midwives.

In the first half of 2009, our doulas attended over 50 births, providing almost 400 hours of labor support – mostly on a volunteer basis.  Our volunteers area diverse group of women dedicated to supporting birthing families. FHBC offers continuing education and mentoring opportunities to these often new, student doulas.  In the future we hope to recruit and train more women from the community to serve as doulas.

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