|You know I love to talk about pleasure, but did you know that I am also a passionate birth activist?
I want to share with you about my personal journey – as it’s been an important year for me to learn, listen, and engage in important – yet, uncomfortable conversations with other doula trainers, childbirth educators, and birth practitioners. It’s been a continual journey of self-awareness and awakening as I continue to work hard personally and professionally to be actively anti-racist and as an advocate and ally for birth justice and birth equity.
This week, DONA provided me and other DONA Trainers another opportunity as part of DONA’s dedication to anti-racism and birth justice with a class presented by CommonHealth Action on anti-racism. I am truly DONA Proud of our DONA Anti-racism statement and call to action and DONA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work.
I’ve also recently watched Epic Health Solutions talk about structural racism and the doula’s role. More than 30 years ago I was the director of the very first community doula program in New Jersey, The Neighborhood Doula Project. When our program ended, I was so disappointed that no one was listening to the essential role of community doulas, especially for BIPOC people being served by BIPOC doulas. Even with good outcomes, no one was ready to dedicate what it would take so that we could continue the program. I kept dreaming and speaking up that one day doulas would be an essential part of care. Now more than 25 years later, NJ is for the first time is including doulas in Medicaid reimbursement as a part of Nurture NJ Action Plan. I am so humbled and my heart is crying that it took so long, but I am celebrating we are finally here especially during this Black History Month.
I am so honored to be learning from so many to examine bias, confront history, to question power, privilege and oppression, eliminate inequities and advance equity in all ways, especially birth and to center and support the many Black leaders past and present, who are leading us to do better and create a just and equitable world.
…As I write this, I can’t help but be reminded of Ibu Robin Lim, my dear friend and co-teacher of Eat Pray Doula. Years ago, Robin lost her sister to a preventable maternal death. Her death, like so many others, is why the role of a doula is so crucial in reducing racial disparities. This year, our Eat Pray Doula training is going virtual – and Ibu Robin, along with me, Mala Landt, DONA Founders, Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus, are so honored to be guided through a Birth Justice and Equity Session by Advanced Doula and Wise Woman, Sokhna Heathyre Mabin. We will also be joined by Alejandra Lozano, a traditional Mexican Midwife sharing the wisdom of the rebozo in providing comfort in birth. Together, we can continue to fight for justice, because Peace on Earth Begins at Birth.
As many of you know my big Italian family is at my heart always and has guided me in so many ways to be who I am today.
I have a special story to share with you. It was like being part of a movie, but it was the magic of life.
My great-grandmother traveled from Italy by boat to the U.S. when she was a teenager and never returned. Sadly, she lost touch with her family. For years growing up I wondered if we still had family in Italy. When my husband Jimi and I were on our honeymoon in 1998 we went exploring on the Amalfi Coast as I wanted to find my roots and the town my Great-Grandmother Angelina was born, Agerola, Italy.
What happened next I never expected. It was magical and serendipitous.
If you have ever taken a workshop with me you know how much my Great-Grandmother influenced me and how her birth stories inspired me. She is where my interest in gentle, pleasurable Orgasmic Birth began.
When Jimi and I went to Italy, I not only found the town Angelina was born in, I found so much more – my family who was still living in the same town and owned the home my great-grandmother was born in!
I learned my cousins were on a summer holiday in Ischia and we were put in touch via phone. My cousin, Graziella had spent a few years in the U.S. in High School so her English was great thankfully, as I didn’t speak Italian! She invited us to come to visit her on Ischia the next day.
Being on our honeymoon we had time so the next day Jimi and I drove through Naples to the ferry and headed off to Ischia.
I will never forget as the ferry was pulling up to the dock, I saw Graziella and I knew it was her. She had such a strong family resemblance and a great big smile. She welcomed us as if we had known each other forever. She had cooked up a feast of food that I can still see and taste in my mind. It was the most delicious meal I’d ever had! We felt right at home, just like a perfect film story. Graziella’s mother, Maria, who we call “Nonna” shared stories of the family and we could feel the same energy I had grown up with and loved from my grandmother and great-grandmother.
We had just met but we fast friends and cousins already in our hearts. Almost every year since then I’ve visited Graziella and her family in Agerola – learning her cooking and bringing friends and leading retreats to share the beauty of the region and Graziella’s delicious food and hospitality.
I asked Graziella for recipes and in our discussion, the seed was planted that she needed to write a cookbook. I wanted a cookbook for me and all our family and others who share my passion for the delicious tastes and love of Southern Italy that Graziella’s cooking provides.
Now my wish has come true!
Are you ready to celebrate with us?
Would you like to taste Graziella’s delicious recipes? Just in time for holiday gifts Graziella’s Table: 52 Simply Delicious Recipes Italian Recipes from the Amalfi Coast in English and Italian. Join me in supporting Graziella and celebrating the release of her book by purchasing for yourself and gifts for your family so we can help her reach 1 in New Releases.
I hope one day when it’s safe to travel you will join me in a woman’s retreat to visit Graziella, learn some cooking secrets with her and explore the hidden treasures of the Amalfi coast together.
I am so grateful to Graziella for sharing her family recipes and grateful I can share them with you too!
How do you become a
DONA Certified Birth Doula?
Becoming a Certified DONA Birth Doula is an inspiring, exciting, and passion-filled endeavor. But, what does it take?
First, you’ll join Debra for a DONA Birth Doula Training + Introduction to Childbirth Course (you can sign up for that here).
This completes the first two requirements of Certification.
To become a DONA Certified Birth Doula, you will continue with additional self-study + experience related requirements to complete and apply for certification. (See infographic below for these self-study items).
DONA has created some great guides on becoming a Certified Birth Doula for you.
DONA Quick Links
Become a Doula Quick Links to get started
Have you been considering becoming a doula but are not sure if you’re ready, have the experience or if it’s the right time?
Ask yourself these 10 Questions to determine if you should become a doula and learn the next steps in achieving your dream.
Being honest, just a short time ago, I could never have imagined teaching doulas virtually.
I love facilitating DONA Doula Workshops and meeting people from different communities throughout the world. It’s the reason why I’ve been a doula trainer for over 30 years – continually learning, listening to stories and sharing in traditions. I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow as I’ve been mentored by our elders, traditional midwives, and women and men from so many cultures and regions, people like Penny Simkin who has devoted her own life to birth work.
So when the world changed with COVID-19 it was a challenge for me to consider how to bring our stories, connection and skills to the online world.
But I jumped right in, and ran my first ever online DONA Birth doula workshop in March of 2020 with the Doulas of Austria and my dear friends, Angelika and Jaqueline.
I prepared many extra hours to find new fun ways to share doula skills and wisdom through a screen…and it was so worth it!
LIVE Q&A October 21st at 1PM EDT
Virtual DONA Birth Doula Training - December 2020
It was so much more fun than I ever could have imagined. We were all filled with connection – a doula circle full of oxytocin, love and care.
We created a doula community in the same way as we do in person – so connected to one another.
If you are skeptical about an online doula workshop like I was, I hope these insights will put your mind at ease. I invite you to set your fears aside and join me.
One day we will be able to be together again, but since the time is now to learn and share doula skills ~ virtual is a fun, safe, and inspiring option.
Right now, we need more connection, nurturing and support – a doula workshop will recharge you and connect you to others who share your passion for a better world where every MotherBaby-Family is support and cared for in childbirth and postpartum.
I am waiting for you!
Upcoming 4 Day Virtual Workshop (+ Intro. session)
- Nov. 30th – Introduction Session: 4:00-5:00 PM
- Dec. 1st & 2nd
- Dec. 8th & 9th
5 Common Questions about Virtual Doula Training
Join me for a live Q&A. October 21st at 1PM EDT.
World Breastfeeding Week gives me a reason to pause each year and consider all of the benefits of breastfeeding. Personally, I spent 9 years of my life breastfeeding my children. I cherished those days, the connection, the nurturing, the snuggles and the many ways I continue to learn that breastfeeding was beneficial for me and for them. Each year, I learn more and more reasons to celebrate, protect and promote breastfeeding. This year the theme of World Breastfeeding Week is Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet. Breastfeeding is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe and green because it is produced and delivered to the consumer without pollution, packaging or waste. Now that is something to celebrate when thinking about the world our children will grow up into!
These last few months have made us aware of how connected we all are to one another. It’s opened our eyes wider to how we must come together to heal and to promote the health and well-being of every person, in every way. When we see breastfeeding having a role in health, well-being and the environment. We must be aware of how profits over people have provided mixed messages with formula companies violating the Code of Marketing Breastfeeding Substitutes. I hope you will join me in sharing how you support breastfeeding in your life and your community. What do you value about breastfeeding? Share your pictures of your breastfeeding, or a breastfeeding slogan on Instagram and tag us @OrgasmicBirth
I have so much more to say about pleasure, breastfeeding, sex and relationships – learn my PLEASURES from my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Sex After Baby: Secrets to Love & Intimacy”
WABA – World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action writes:
“In supporting breastfeeding for a healthier planet and overcoming effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to create a warm chain of support for breastfeeding. It is vital that we emphasise the importance of providing skilled support to all breastfeeding families, especially those in vulnerable/emergency situations. Governments, employers and businesses should be made aware of the investment case for breastfeeding as part of the global sustainable development agenda. Activists and celebrants can find creative ways to move the #WBW2020 campaign online, to stay informed, to advocate virtually and to engage with actors and stakeholders beyond the breastfeeding movement. This creates an enabling environment that empowers all women/parents to breastfeed optimally. The #WBW2020 campaign presents a framework for understanding the links between breastfeeding and planetary health. WABA has outlined some of the challenges and present some possible solutions. Supporting breastfeeding for a healthier planet means leaving no one behind. Together, we can achieve a win-win situation for humanity and the planet.”
Learn more at https://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/
In childbirth, systemic racism is the root cause of disparities leading to higher maternal mortality rates for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Doula support from people from the BIPOC community improves outcomes and makes a difference in more positive birth experiences. Doulas are an essential part of collaborative, respectful quality care. Debra is committed to offer scholarships to individuals who identify as BIPOC and have shown:
~ A commitment to addressing racial and/or social justice
~ Have a financial need for scholarship assistance
~ Will use doula skills to support their community
Debra is hosted at many workshops throughout the year, please reach out to the relevant workshop for scholarships details. If you feel that you meet the criteria, below are some questions that you may be asked:
- Why do you want to become a Birth or Postpartum Doula and what do you hope to gain from this training?
- In what capacity would you like to serve birthing people and their families?
- How do you see yourself creating change through birthwork?
- How will this scholarship help you with your future goals?
- Do you identify as BIPOC?
by Lauren Williams
There are only a few things in life she has recommended that I have not listened carefully to and taken her advice. I can actually only think of two times I may have given her a bit of push back and you may not be surprised to find out they were both when I was in the throws of labor!
The first time I was in deep labor with my first son as Debra sat diligently at my side. I moved into transition, I was overwhelmed, scared and felt very much out of control. In these moments, as many know, it is hard to communicate the deep intensity you feel. At that moment I found the only words I could think of that would express the extreme intensity I was feeling but also have a hint of humor to let her know I was still in there going strong…
The second time I just down-right didn’t listen to my dear cousin was in my second labor.
Labor was slow to start and easy to manage. They with a boom it came on fast and furious. I dilated from 3 cm to holding my son in only 40 minutes.
While I can’t remember much from those 40 minutes other than the intensity, my husband does. He loves to remind me that when Debra was gently trying to get me into the bed and onto my hands and knees, I just stared at her, not taking a step in any direction.
As my husband jokes, I had one of the greatest doulas in the world there with me and I wouldn’t listen to her. In all fairness, I really don’t remember her even speaking, or anyone for that matter but it is kind of funny to think about.
Several years ago Debra introduced me to B-School. Of course, having learned my lesson to take her advice I signed up right away! It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my career. I am a doula, childbirth educator and personal trainer in Denver Colorado. Currently, I am in the process of selling my Yoga studio which I have owned for the last 13 years. Everything we offer is dedicated to women in their childbearing years. We offer prenatal, mommy & me and postpartum Yoga, Childbirth Education and holistic health care practitioners such as massage, Chiropractic, and Acupuncture. B-School was pivotal in me growing my business, helping us create a strong brand and focused goals. B-School has an amazing ability to get you to think of your offerings from the perspective of your client. Which in turn helps you create branding and wording to articulate to your clientele exactly what it is you have to offer. B-School is kind of like a doula for your business.
One of my favorite things about B-School is that when you sign up you get lifetime access to the program. In fact every year I redo B-School with Debra and the amazing team of Childbirth Professionals she has put together (her “Birth Your Dreams Group”). It helps me rethink and refine my marketing, my offerings, and my website.
My family and I are about to move abroad for my husband’s job and I am starting fresh in the next incarnation of my career. As I begin to build my new offerings and ideas I am so very thankful that I have B-School to turn to as a foundation to build from. This is truly one of the best investments I have made as I grow I know B-School is always there to help me grow in a very efficient and articulate way.
I can say that I think I have learned my lesson to listen to Debra when she provides advice! She’s one of those women who just seems to know the right moves to make, be it in childbirth or in business.
Our Birth Your Dreams Community is a special group of birthworkers who have signed up to join B-School via my affiliate link. Together we work through the B-School Marketing Course learning tips for expanding our message and businesses. As Birthworkers, we have our own unique set of goals and ideas, and together we lift each other higher and support one another on our journeys.
B-School helps each of us to continue sharing our message while creating sustainable, healthy businesses.
Interested in learning more? Join my Birth Your Dreams Mailing List for updates on B-School and more blogs from our group.