Speakers

Confirmed Speakers London Ontario Fall Conference 2016

Jodi Hall

Jodi has a PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences – Health Professional Education from The University of Western Ontario. She was the research coordinator of a Canadian Institute of Health Research funded study, entitled “Embodied Trauma: The impacts of abuse on the transition to mothering”, and the author of recently published articles in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research on the health related needs of women in conflict with the law, and conducting health research within incarcerated settings. A Safe Passage was recently featured in the fourth edition of Domestic Violence Sourcebook – Health Reference Series, published by Omnigraphics. Jodi is currently conducting a community based needs assessment with street-based sex workers to explore from workers’ perspectives what they need to enhance safety and dignity in the conduct of their work.

Jodi worked as a DONA certified doula and childbirth educator for 10 years, with a focus on the intersections between trauma histories and the experiences of women during the childbearing years. Jodi was employed in both residential and clinical settings as a full-time woman abuse counsellor, providing counselling to women who have been abused, as well as facilitating groups for women whose children have been exposed to their abuse.

Jodi’s unique combination of skills from both the birthing community and the violence against women sector has spurred a high demand internationally for her workshops aimed at informing other medical and allied health and social service professionals around the complex issue of trauma and the childbearing years.

Jodi resides with her family in London, Ontario, where she runs a private counseling practice and operates A Safe Passage, the first and only known website dedicated solely to supporting survivors of abuse through pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenting.

Teresa Pitman

Teresa Pitman is the mother of four children and the grandmother of eight. She's been a La Leche League Leader for more than 30 years and was previously the Executive Director of LLL Canada. She's one of the co-authors ofThe Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Sweet Sleep; she also co-authored Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding plus more than a dozen other books on parenting and breastfeeding. Teresa believes all babies and children deserve extravagant affection. 

Rivka Cymbalist

Rivka Cymbalist is a birth attendant who accompanies families either as a doula, a midwife or as an advocate. Her interests include birth activism, reading, running, revolution and peaceful change. Rivka has been attending births for twenty years, and has been a practising herbalist for over four decades. She has written a book about birth, and spends much of her time teaching and mentoring doulas and student midwives. She has five children and lives with her husband and youngest son mostly in Montreal.

Ina May Gaskin

Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, PhD(Hon.) is founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center, located near Summertown, Tennessee. Founded in 1971, by 2011, the Farm Midwifery Center had handled approximately 3000 births, with remarkably good outcomes. Ms. Gaskin herself has attended more than 1200 births. She is author of Spiritual Midwifery , now in its fourth edition. For twenty-two years she published Birth Gazette , a quarterly covering health care, childbirth and midwifery issues. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was released in 2003 by Bantam/Dell, a division of Random House and has been translated into Italian, Slovenian, German, and French. Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding was published in 2009 by Bantam/Dell, and her newest book, Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta , was published in 2011.

She has lectured all over the world at midwifery conferences and at medical schools, both to students and to faculty. She was President of Midwives’ Alliance of North America from 1996 to 2002. In 1997, she received the ASPO/Lamaze Irwin Chabon Award and the Tennessee Perinatal Association Recognition Award. In 2003 she was chosen as Visiting Fellow of Morse College, Yale University. In 2009, she was conferredw with the title of Honorary Doctor by the Faculty of Health and Human Sciences of Thames Valley University in London, England. In 2011, she was chosen as one of four recipients of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize), given in an award ceremony before the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm.

Ms. Gaskin has lectured widely to midwives and physicians throughout the world. Her promotion of a low-intervention but extremely effective method for dealing with one of the most-feared birth complications, shoulder dystocia, has resulted in that method being adopted by a growing number of practitioners. The Gaskin maneuver is the first obstetrical procedure to be named for a midwife. Her statistics for breech deliveries and her teaching video on the subject have helped to spark a reappraisal of the policy of automatically performing cesarean section for all breech babies. As the occurrence of vaginal breech births has declined over the last 40 years, the knowledge and skill required for such births have come close to extinction.

Ms. Gaskin’s center is noted for its low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality despite the inclusion of many vaginally delivered breeches, twin and grand multiparas. Their statistics were published in “The Safety of Home Birth: The Farm Study,” authored by A. Mark Durand, American Journal of Public Health , March, 1992, Vol. 82, 450-452. She was featured in Salon magazine’s feature “ Brilliant Careers ” in the June 1, 1999 edition. The Sun magazine published an interview with her in its January 2012 issue.

Beth Murch

My name is Beth Murch – also known as Bethy, Mama B, and Queen B. I am one of many wyse wimmin in Waterloo Region. I have been a labour and postpartum doula for eight years and as of this writing, I’ve attended nearly one hundred births. I am an independent placenta service provider and I run a quirky little side business called “Mama B’s Potions and Notions”, where I play with herbs to make health and body care products. If you live in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, you’ve probably come across me through La Leche League, Breastfeeding Buddies, Family and Children’s Services, the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, Planned Parenthood, Sustainable Cycles, Wilfrid Laurier and the Wilfrid Laurier School of Social Work, University of Waterloo, GSA/OK2BME, the KW Anarchist Bookfair, various protests, and, perhaps, even as a spoken word artist.

I’ve earned a few university degrees along the way: a BA in Religion and Culture with a minor in Women’s Studies, a BA in English and Film Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies, and a Master of Arts degree in Religion and Culture (my area of study was the spiritual experiences of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, and women’s spaces in traditional/patriarchal faiths). Paper is nice, but what really counts is life experience…and I have that in spades!

I have always been fascinated by pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding – even as a small child, I could not get over how amazing it was that people could make more people! I loved that our bodies knew how to grow babies, and that once those babies were born, our bodies could sustain them. The physiological process of birth gives me shivers, it is so complex and yet so simple – Nature has a plan for everything. I got into doula work after becoming frustrated by academia – I was tired of talking about things! I wanted to actually do them! I’ve always had a place in my heart for people in challenging life circumstances and who get lost in the shuffle. I know that pain well, and I have a real conviction to serve those in complicated circumstances, such as people struggling with: addiction, sex work, mental health issues, poverty, involvement in the legal system, involvement with Family and Children’s Services/CAS (including apprehension and adoption), abusive situations, sexual assault/incest (past or present), expecting a medically fragile child, perinatal loss (death of a baby during pregnancy, the birth process, or shortly after birth), parenting as a young person, birth trauma, accessing care as undocumented members of our society – and so much more. I serve a wide variety of people, with a wide variety of needs.

I am passionate about teaching – I have been training doulas and childbirth educators for five years now, and facilitating workshops on a wide variety of topics involving childbirth, reproductive justice, midwifery, doula care, female-bodied people’s health concerns, breastfeeding, trauma, body positivity, radical activism, social and environmental justice, spirituality, religious rituals, and healing. I have mentored most of the doulas in Waterloo Region at one point or another, and I am currently mentoring doulas all around the globe. I take my responsibilities as an educator very seriously: I believe that first and foremost, I am accountable to my students. I have a responsibility to be open and honest with them. I must honour the financial investment that they make in me, and I have a duty to provide them with current, quality information that will help them.

Christy Hall

Christy Hall is a Full Spectrum doula, mentor and consultant living in Portland, Oregon. She has been practicing for 15 years attending births, doing pregnancy options and abortion counseling, and providing support to pregnant people through their experiences regardless of outcome. She was a co-founder of the Prison Doula Project in Olympia, Washington in 2001. Currently, she maintains a private doula practice while also serving as co-director of Metta Lineage. Her work through Metta includes working as a doula in an innovative program called Project Nurture, which provides comprehensive services for pregnant people who are in recovery from opiate addiction. She also closely mentors new doulas into a full spectrum model while working to create inroads to doula access for all people. And when time permits, she facilitates workshops for doulas and allied professionals about the importance of supporting people across the pregnancy spectrum.

Lesley Everest

My name is Lesley Everest. "Doula" is the umbrella term for the many avenues of practice I have engaged in throughout my adult life.  I have been attending births (between birthing and raising my four kids ranging from 11 to 24) for 23 years, at times attending more than sixty births per year.  I am a former La Leche League Leader.  I am a professionally trained Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy Guide, a certified in Pre-and Perinatal massage therapist, a certified Polarity Therapy Practitioner and a Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner.  Having trained as a hospice volunteer, I tend to dying as an end of life doula.

As an ordained interspiritual minister, I have a private practice creating and officiating ceremonies for celebration and healing, as well as provide spiritual counselling for those from every faith (or atheist) background who wish to connect to and inform their lives with that sense of "something more".  Much of my spiritual counselling/ceremony work has to do with birth story integration , as well as the integration of other major life transitions, such as coping with illness or embarking upon new life journeys.  My personal experience of healing from advanced cancer has bolstered my belief that owning one's gifts and stepping into one's power is not an act of Ego, but a radical expression of love and healing for all beings.

I am the founder and director of MotherWit Doula Care, an agency of birth/postpartum doulas and childbirth educators founded in Montreal.  I am the creator of Birth Essentials Prenatal Classes, which is a comprehensive course in childbirth/parenting empowerment. We also have chapters in Montreal's West Island and in Ottawa.  I have been training doulas for thirteen years, and am the creator of MotherWit Doula Training, which in the last six years has trained hundreds of doulas around North America in essential and advanced doula practices.  I have also trained hundreds of medical professionals in the art of holding space for the potential unfolding of normal, physiologic birth in a hospital environment.  As a bringer-together of community, trained in social network development through Postpartum Support International, I run several pregnant and new mom meetups, mom2mom support groups for those struggling with perinatal anxiety and mood disorders, as well as serve as a source of support and private counselling for student and professional doulas.  

Alyssa Gagnon

Alyssa Gagnon is a mixed-blood Cree mother to one, a full-spectrum doula, and is a graduate of the First Nations Studies B.A. program from Western University. She is currently working towards becoming a midwife through the Midwifery Education Program at Ryerson University and hopes to pursue a Masters in Geography where her research will hone in on Indigenous health on the land and the geographic importance of birth on traditional territories. Alyssa’s major goal is to reclaim Cree midwifery in northern Ontario in the wake of healing and resistance against intergenerational trauma.

Melissa Krawecki

Melissa is an author, advocate, wife and mother of two children, one living and one deceased.  She  has used grief to propel her work as a blogger (AvasTree.com) and author of the published book "In the Shade of Ava's Tree" published with Praeclarus Press in 2015.   She works alongside the bereaved in honoring grief as well as teaching birth workers about loss and birth trauma. A PTSD survivor, EMDR advocate and experienced in pregnancy after loss she has created the "Navigating Pregnancy after Loss" and "Supporting the Bereaved" workshops, among others, all tailored toward these experiences. Melissa facilitates several grief groups and donates her time in her community as co-creator of the Elgin Community Pregnancy, Infant and Child Peer Support Group. Melissa lives in St Thomas Ontario with her husband and daughter, remembering Ava always. 

Kat Garduno

Kat is a mother of four and works as a Birth Doula in Fredericton, NB. She is passionate about VBAC and informed choice. Her work as a doula revolves around doing her part to help create a Maternity Care environment where women are active participants in their journey, are respected, where they experience informed choice, and are not made to feel guilty, inadequate, or fear-mongered during pregnancy, birth and parenthood. Kat also works with women who want to delve deeper into healing previous birth experiences, in particular if they are wanting to have a VBAC or have had previous traumatic experiences. She utilizes a variety of tools such as mindfulness, journaling, and story integration to help her clients prepare, process and begin their healing journey and shed the baggage of previous experiences.

Erich Otten

Erich Otten, is a Perinatal Support Practitioner (PSP.cert.) affectionately referred to as “The Doula Dude”. He has been involved in full spectrum birthworq* since 2008, providing holistic perinatal care, complementary therapies and pregnancy options counselling to women, Queer folks and childbearing humans.

He is currently in his final year studying a B.A.(hons) in Sociology, pursuing an undergraduate dissertation on sustainable mothering and the experiences of doula care & education in northern, rural communities. Which will eventually lead to an openly sourced sustainable practice model for doulas serving isolated communities. One of his passions is for integrating inclusive practices in birthworq* this has resulted from his own queer identity and desires for parenthood. But also from the birth stories that have been shared with him from other LGBTQ2A+ folk who have had less than ideal childbearing and reproductive experiences.

It is his goal to make visible these often invisible or unseen experiences in birth work. Aiming to connect birth workers with the full-spectrum and to build safer more inclusive childbearing experience for all human beings.

*Birthworq* is a playful take on birthwork that is inclusive of all reproductive experiences for cis, queer and trans identified humans alike. It is a necessary identifier that allows Queer* humans to know that their care provider is not an adherent of trans exclusionary radical feminism, and allows us to access safer, more informed pregnancy and reproductive care. 

Sheila Stubbs

Sheila Stubbs, RPN, is a passionate home birth advocate and the author of Birthing the Easy Way. As a Foster mom, a Host mom for International students, and a Respite mom to children with special needs, as well as mother to her own now-grown children, Sheila advocates for better birth, breastfeeding, and bonding.  Birthing The Easy Way, her self-published book, has sold in 11 countries around the world, mostly though word-of-mouth.

Sheila's birth experiences started with an "unnecessarean" followed by a hospital VBAC, then four homebirths including an unassisted homebirth of a 36-week premie.  She has been a homebirth doula since 1985 and was a La Leche League Leader for over 25 years. During that time she started several new LLL Groups and spoke at LLL Conferences. She currently hosts monthly discussion meetings to facilitate discussion on birth options,  as well as hosting special meetings called "Birth-Nerds Gatherings" for Midwives and Doulas to learn and share.

She is a member of the International Cesarean Awareness Network [ICAN], and Lactnet, the online resource for lactation specialists. Her other “nursing” experience is in psychiatric nursing and pediatric nursing. She currently works in Community Nursing. Both of these nursing backgrounds give her a passion for the rights of mothers and their babies. In her free time she moderates online community parenting lists and blogs about the potentially dangerous “infant management” and “Cry-It-Out” parenting philosophies.

 

Amanda Saunders

Amanda Saunders has a Master of Social Worker from Kings College - UWO, a Women Studies degree from The University of Western Ontario,  
a certificate in Crisis Intervention from Fanshawe College, and was previously trained (2006) as a DONA certified doula and childbirth educator.  
 
Amanda has been working as a counselor within the Violence Against Women community since 2004. She began her career working specifically with women whose (ex)partners have been charged with violence, often providing information on safety-planning, self care and crisis intervention. Over the years, her practice has shifted to also include working with men who have used violence, both challenging the abusive behaviours while exploring alternate ways of being. Since 2010, Amanda has been working full time with the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex engaging families who are in need of support for a variety of reasons.
 
Amanda also provides counseling to individuals and families through a private practice -- Sharing Spaces, co- founded with Jodi Hall. 
 
Amanda resides in London with her partner and three children.
 

Holly Gibson

Holly Gibson has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Kings University College at Western University, a Bachelor of Social Work Degree and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Kings University College at Western University. Holly has been trained as a Perinatal Support Practitioner (PSP.cert.)

Holly has been working for over ten years in the field of violence against women providing front-line services. Her practice has shifted from working directly with men who use violence against women to supporting individuals and families through various crises and transitions related to violence against women. 

Since 2008 Holly has been working full time with the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex. 

Holly also provides counseling to individuals through a private practice—Sharing Spaces. 

Holly resides in London, Ontario with her husband and two daughters.

 
 

Erika Kafka

As a child I dreamed of having a large family and being an obstetrician.  While working towards my undergrad I realized that I may have to make a choice between the two.  Soon after I found myself expecting twins and after a powerless, surgical birth experience; I decided that there had to be a better choice out there. 

I began researching for selfish reasons, I wanted a BETTER birth the second time around.  In my search I discovered doulas....I hired the most FABULOUS woman who helped me to feel confident, empowered and to take charge of my birth.  I did just that and had a fabulous VBAC.  I then decided to be a doula myself.  I have since had another babe; with the same priceless support; and he was born at home (HBAC).  What a fabulous experience!

Once I had felt the support an experienced woman could give to a labouring mother, there was no other choice for me.  A career in which I constantly expand my knowledge and pass on the torch of empowerment was my choice; and that is exactly what I strive towards with each new client.   I have a passion for twin parents as well as those striving for a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean.   I currently volunteer as the President of the London Multiple Births Association and teach a prenatal class specifically for multiple birth parents.  I have supported numerous VBAC clients including mothers who have had two previous caesareans - VBA2C.  I have supported 2 HBA2Cs and a VBA2C breech birth as well. 

This career is so rewarding.  There is nothing more amazing to see than a mother who has just given birth or nursed for the first time.  Helping them achieve their own birthing and feeding goals is a dream come true.

I have a supportive husband of 8yrs who takes amazing care of my children.  He is my partner in this life and I am grateful to be able to leave my boys in his care while following my passions, most times with very little notice.  We have 7 year old twin boys, a 5yr old son and a 2yr old son.

I am elated to join with others to learn and grow at the 2016 Birth and Beyond Conference.  

 

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