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Amy I. Catania, CD(DONA) Doula, Birthing From Within® Mentor and Anti-Violence Advocate

Learn more about Amy.

Rachel Dolan Wickersham CD(DONA), LCCE, CPM, Doula,
Midwife and Doula Trainer

Learn more about Rachel

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Radio Interview on Birth Trends and Midwives

ChicagoDoula’s own Rachel Dolan Wikersham (who in addition to being a doula is also a Ceritifed Professradiowavesional Midwife or CPM) joined local Certified Nurse Midwife, Hillary Keiser today on WBEZ’s Morning Shift with Tony Sarabia. In addition to addressing concerns of several callers, they explained the difference between types of midwives, discussed the opposition of MDs in Illinois to licensing CPMs, and went further into details about homebirth and requests some parents are making in birthing such as delayed cord clamping. Listen to the full interview here:

Skeptical SIL Turned Doula Spokesperson

doula Here’s a delightful, eloquent, funny post from, a mother of three who had never heard of a doula before recently attending her brother and sister-in-law’s second birth.

If you’ve had a doula or been a family member who has worked with one, or you are one yourself, you’ll find lots to relate to here. There are so many things to love about this piece and the way it personalizes the benefits of doulas. Here are just a few highlights that I particularly like:

- She’s is so right-on about the whole Pacific Northwest vs. Midwest crunchy-by-association thing. And the doula=birkenstocks and patchouli oil thing! As someone who grew up in Chicago but lived in Portland, OR, I get that. All. the. time. And yes, I recycle, but nuh uh, I do not wear patchouli or Birkenstocks. Doulas really do come in many forms – as evidenced in her post as well as here and here.

- Doulas work the room! We definitely do. This is one of the under-discussed but utterly worthwhile and fulfilling parts of my job. When I am doula-ing, I often get to meet fascinating, loving extended family members. We go through such an intense experience together as labor unfolds and their new little one arrives. It is always an honor and a privilege to be “their doula” and an honorary member of the family, even if just for a little while. She may give short shrift to dads, but she is right that a doula will be helpful for everyone in the room, not just mom.

- Do we all have that person in our family who snaps pictures like the author of that blog?! I certainly do in mine. And I recognize and have given that “universal look of annoyance” to a tee.

A word of caution: there may be potential triggers here for some folks in the author’s description of a contrasting birth she witnessed where there was no doula present  – and things did not go well for the birthing mother or her labor support team. But if you can, don’t let that stop you – in fact it makes the post that much richer.

Enjoy. And here’s to the converted!

Illinois’ First Birth Center…Finally!?

Check out this excellent Crain’s Chicago Business article about the hoped-for opening of Illinios’ first free-standing birth center.  It offers some interesting inside information on what it took to get the birth center bill passed. It turns out an assistant to the Illinois Senate President is married to a certified nurse-midwife! The story goes, once the president gave the bill his support, it finally took off. But it still took another 5 or 6 years after that to get everything in place for a potential opening – potential because the license has yet to be granted. Just goes to show how incredibly difficult it is to pass any state-wide legislation that the Illinois State Medical Society, a major campaign contributor, opposes.

A New Advocate for Birth Justice at Chicago Volunteer Doulas

I am delighted to share that today Chicago Volunteer Doulas (CVD) announced that Jeanine Valrie, MPH will take over the position of Program Director for the agency. I am both a Volunteer Doula as well as a board member for CVD and an email sent from the agency this morning to volunteers states:

Jeanine brings a strong background in maternal-child health and program coordination with her. She graduated from The George Washington University with a Masters in Public Health in Global Health Policy and has studied midwifery for the out-of-hospital setting. Jeanine has led programs with community groups in both Chicago and Washington, D.C. Jeanine is active in areas of social justice and very committed to CVD’s expansion to serve more women. She has experience presenting at conferences, including just this past weekend at the ICTC Conference in Florida! And to top it off, Jeanine is a doula and lactation consultant, happy to support you all in your endeavors as birth workers. (hyperlink added)

She joins Executive Director, Michele Shade, phD, as one of the agency’s two paid staff members. Jeanine begins shadowing outgoing Program Director, Jinnie Hoggarth, CD(DONA), today and will fully transition into the position in the next two weeks.

This is also a notable occasion for the agency not just because Jeanine will make a great addition, but also because it’s a sign CVD is growing up! It marks the first full-fledged, paid staff change since the agency incorporated as a non-profit after years of being coordinated by its foremother, Sue Gottschall, CD(DONA) and a host of other dedicated volunteers.

Chicago Volunteer Doulas also includes over 80 Volunteer Doulas who provide on-call labor support at four Chicago hospitals; traditional one-on-one doula support at hospitals across the Chicagoland area; birth preparation classes and new mother groups.

Find out more, and consider giving the agency your support as well!