Chicago Volunteer Doulas Cultural Understanding Workshops

The Chicago Volunteer Doulas is a birth justice organization providing comprehensive doula support for vulnerable communities in Chicagoland.

A Chicago Volunteer Doula is a labor support professional who has chosen to commit time and energy to helping pregnant people and their families in Chicago. CVD doulas come from a variety of backgrounds. They are social workers, childcare workers, cab drivers, accountants, stay-at-home moms, midwifery students, artists, activists, nurses, lawyers, teachers, yoga instructors and massage therapists. CVD doulas celebrate different cultural backgrounds and some are fluent in Spanish.

Their clients come from families who could not otherwise afford a doula. Many receive their health care at neighborhood clinics. They range from teenagers to women in their 40's. Most are Hispanic or African-American, speaking English and/or Spanish. Most have family members who will be present at the birth. Their experience and knowledge about labor and delivery varies greatly. Some attend the childbirth classes at clinic or the hospital regularly, others come sporadically and others not at all. Some are single moms and others married. What they all share is the wish to have someone knowledgeable about childbirth support them through their labor, and to have a healthy, happy baby.

All doulas have been trained by an accredited organization and many are certified.  Some of doulas are new to the profession while many have been supporting mothers in childbirth for years.  Each doula has been interviewed by administrators to ensure that they support CVD's mission and are committed to the families they serve.

Here's a link to: Chicago Volunteer Doulas

May 18, 2013 Collab Event: Culturally Specific Birth Experiences

How can you be an ally to a woman or a family with whom you may have a different power relation? In this workshop, we explored how power dynamics and a diverse range of cultural understandings shapes our beliefs, values and practices related to pregnancy, birth and parenting through first-voice experiences of clients with from particular cultural communities. Doulas’ ability to establish trust and communication with clients is essential to their function as patient advocates. The goal of this interactive workshop was to empower doulas to feel confident in their ability to work through unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations that may arise when they are called upon to support an African-American birthing mother or a birthing mom with a disability. How can you be an ally to a woman or family with whom you may have a different power or relationship?

9:30 – 9:45 Introduction & Warm Up:

9:45 – 10:05 Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (together – Framework)

Peggy McIntosh wrote an incredible essay in 1988 entitled “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies,” from which the famous “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” is excerpted.

Power/Non Power Chart and First Voice (Amy – Facilitated)

10:05 – 10:30 Circles of Identity (Lori – Activity)

10:30 – 10:40 Break

10:40 – 11:00 First Voice: What is Your First Birth Story? (Amy – Writing exercise);

Goal: Speaking from your own experience, explore ideas about birth; pick the one that resonates as being most powerful in your life.

11:00 – 12:30 First Voice Discussion – Beverly/ Naima (Amy and Lori to Co-facilitate)

Personal meanings ascribed to pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.

12:45 Wrap-up handouts, 3-2-1, evaluation