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Doula training program coming to Madison County

Carly Stone
Staff writer
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Posted 8/13/22

Coral Dowsland’s day-to-day routine involves supporting and advocating for pregnant people in all stages of the perinatal experience — this could involve fertility, conception, birth, abortion, …

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Doula training program coming to Madison County


Coral Dowsland’s day-to-day routine involves supporting and advocating for pregnant people in all stages of the perinatal experience — this could involve fertility, conception, birth, abortion, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, infant loss, and postpartum.

These areas and more are part of her expertise as a full-spectrum doula, a title she’s held since 2020. She’d worked as a birth doula for two years prior.

Doula often makes people think of birth, but really, doulas can serve in several different realms, Dowsland explained — there are even death doulas, too, she said. Simply put, a doula really just means a support person of any kind that provides emotional, physical, educational support,” she said.

Dowsland — who serves people in Upstate New York through her Hamilton-based business, Divine Dandelion — will often meet with her clients to provide education on childbirth “so they can be prepared, if they’re the ones giving birth, both physically, physiologically, and mentally. And then I also help prepare the partner in how they can be of support to their partner that’s giving birth and also [provide] education for them as well,” she explained.

Dowsland is present throughout labor and delivery to provide non-clinical assistance — things like adjusting the pregnant person to help reposition the baby, translating medical information into something more easily understandable, and advocating for the pregnant person’s needs.

In postpartum, her help continues with things like newborn care training, infant feeding training, diapering, soothing, scheduling, “and then any household prep — meal prep, prepping siblings, prepped care, things like that,” she explained.

When it comes to birth, there is “overwhelming evidence that demonstrates the benefits of having a doula, which include a reduced likelihood of cesarean section and improved postpartum mental health,” stated Dona International, one of the primary organizations that certifies and supports doulas in the United States.

A new training program is soon coming to Madison County to help expand the reach of the profession and get more birth doulas into the field.

The three-day comprehensive birth doula training will prepare participants as non-clinical professionals to provide physical, emotional, and informational support for pregnant people before, during, and after childbirth. The training is part of an initiative to promote and provide doula services for pregnant persons who qualify as low-income and/or may have challenges accessing prenatal, birth, and postnatal support.

“The more doulas that are out there that are practicing that can support somebody in any capacity, the better,” Dowsland stated. She added that having programs like this that are geared toward providing accessibility for people of lower income and potentially Black, indigenous, and people of color, is “so beneficial.” In her experience, many people who take advantage of doula services are in the middle-to-upper classes, and primarily white, she said.

The training is brought to the public via the Madison County Rural Health Council (MCRHC) in Morrisville. The organization has been working in collaboration with Cayuga Community Health Network and Seven Valleys Health Coalition to bring a Doula Partnership to Cayuga, Cortland, and Madison counties with a focus on targeting low-income populations and those who would otherwise not be able to easily access doula services. Through the training, the MCRHC hopes to recruit doulas who will be willing to serve these populations in Madison County, explained Stephanie Henry, deputy director of MCRHC. Doulas do not need to reside in the county to participate in the initiative.

The training will be held in-person from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 11, 12, and 13, at The Hampton Inn in Cazenovia. This DONA-approved birth doula training will be led by Beautiful Birth Choices. Attendance for all three days is required. A light breakfast, snack, lunch, and beverages will be provided each day.

While participants will walk away as trained doulas, becoming certified is a choice, not a requirement to practice, Dowsland explained.

“The biggest thing [doulas] provide is emotional support and just being able to hold space for somebody moving through some sort of transition,” she said. Part of that support comes through passed-down knowledge, adding nuance to the profession, she said. Dowsland said she hopes people of all incomes, races, and marginalized status can take advantage of the opportunities this training brings forward.



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