EDN News Summer 2021
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connecting • supporting • informing

In this edition you will find out all the details regarding the upcoming EDN 2021 Online Conference, presented to us this year by the Belgian Doulas. We also have tnews about a story café in Germany, doula wellbeing through singing, a birth story in Dutch and English and happily present two more EDN Office volunteers.
We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

EDN 2021 Online Conference

24-26th September



We are delighted to invite you to our second online EDN Conference! It is with pain in our heart that, once again, we cannot meet live, but we thought it is still better online than not at all! 


Even though nothing compares to the love, oxytocin, joy and tears shared during our live meetings, we have done our best to combine all the resources we could, to create an online event aiming to fulfil our mission of ‘Connecting, Supporting, Informing.’


  • On Friday afternoon we will be welcomed by Hazel, followed by the featured presentation on Oxytocin, Pain and Pleasure in the evening.
  • On both Saturday morning and during the afternoon there will be 3 simultaneous seminars.
  • Red tents will be open during each session and during Saturday evening.
  • On Sunday there will be 5 simultaneous workshops in the morning followed by our Doula Mamas, Florencia and Veerle, bringing us the closing ceremony in the afternoon.
  • Registered attendees will be able to enjoy catching up on any seminars they missed and view the videos until the end of the year.
  • In fact, if you are unable to attend the conference that weekend you are welcome to register now for the online post-conference viewing!
EDN 2021 Programme

Friday 24th September

14.00 - 16.00  CEST

(Central European Summer Time)



"An opening ceremony to bring together our hands, hearts, voices and spirits.

This is an opportunity to settle into our online space together, while we hear from each

representative and reconnect with the doula situation across Europe. We will be setting

intentions and participating in a ritual of connection to weave us together, so that although

we may be separated by distance, our hearts are joined in doula love.”

Hazel Acland Tree (UK)


19.30 - 21.30  CEST


Oxytocin, Pain and Pleasure


Oxytocin, the subject of this talk, is a mysterious hormone produced in the hypothalamus and stored in the hypofyse. It gives us - humans- two totally opposite emotions - Pain and Pleasure..... Obstetrics has always been like a hobby to me, and after 25 years and more or less 8500 deliveries, every baby I witness being born produces a rise in mine and the mother's oxytocin levels. Let’s discover more about this essential hormone together!

Dr Firas Cha’ban (B)


Saturday 25th September

10.00 - 12.00 CEST

Simultaneous workshops


Together for Respectful Birth

As a doula, you sometimes find yourself in situations where respect is hard to find. This can be very frustrating. When does it go too far? And, more importantly, what can you do in these situations? The Flemish organisation, 'Together for Respectful Birth' is there to put the spotlight on midwifery violence and to look, together with all parties involved, for ways to make respect for the birthing woman, her wishes and her family the norm. We are honoured to speak at this international congress. Doulas are an important part of the road to more respectful birth care for all. Parents and carers alike.

Sophie van Cauwelaert and Ruth Sneyers 



Lieve wants to talk with you about physiology, guidelines and the rights of women. These should go hand in hand to help mothers achieve a birth that makes both mother and baby healthy and strong. What are the barriers to making this work and where do we need a shift in our system?

A lot of our problems are universal and together we can discuss possible ways to create a better balance between what women need and the pressure that guidelines put on midwives and gynaecologists. How can we regain knowledge and experience in undisturbed birth?

How can doulas be involved and be part of this story?

Lieve Huybrechts 


Giving Birth

Pregnancy and childbirth can be a liberating yet difficult experience that forces expectant parents to confront their belief systems.


A mother-to-be’s journey is shaped by her and her partner’s personal and collective beliefs. Importantly, this experience is also greatly influenced by the professional, cultural and social beliefs of those who care for the mother and child. These factors make birth work an interesting and challenging field.


“If a woman trusts herself, her body and the people around her,

if these people trust and support her,

and if she has a voice and a choice,

she can give birth anywhere - in a hospital, in a bath tub or in the desert, for that matter.”

Herman Buurman 


Red Tent


14.00 - 16.00 CEST

 Simultaneous workshops


Together for Respectful Birth

As a doula, you sometimes find yourself in situations where respect is hard to find. This can be very frustrating. When does it go too far? And, more importantly, what can you do in these situations? The Flemish organisation, 'Together for Respectful Birth' is there to put the spotlight on midwifery violence and to look, together with all parties involved, for ways to make respect for the birthing woman, her wishes and her family the norm. We are honoured to speak at this international congress. Doulas are an important part of the road to more respectful birth care for all. Parents and carers alike.

Sophie van Cauwelaert and Ruth Sneyers 



Lieve wants to talk with you about physiology, guidelines and the rights of women. These should go hand in hand to help mothers achieve a birth that makes both mother and baby healthy and strong. What are the barriers to making this work and where do we need a shift in our system?

A lot of our problems are universal and together we can discuss possible ways to balance better between what women need and the pressure that guidelines put on midwives and gynaecologists. How can we regain knowledge and experience in undisturbed birth?

How can doula’s be involved and be part of this story?

Lieve Huybrechts 


Postnatal Support Network

The power of vulnerability: How postpartum support can impact social change.


Being born and giving birth are two of the most impactful events in our lives. In the first 6 weeks after birth, a new reality sets in for the life of a young mother and her family. Rest, recovery and bonding have the highest priority. However, this is not the experience for many. Feelings of hardship, loneliness and insecurity seem to be the norm during this recovery period.

It does not have to be this way!

Asking for help during this unique time in your life may invoke a social revolution. Within the nucleus of a young family, a well-informed support network can make all the difference. But knowing the kind of help, the expected attitude and what knowledge to bring, is of equal relevance and should be known to society at large.

This lecture from Ingrid Bal, chair of the international charity Postnatal Support Network, is about the power of vulnerability. We will experience the needs of a postpartum mother with roleplay and speak about what help is necessary to invoke the awareness needed for a healthy and relaxed start in life.

Ingrid Bal 


Red Tent


20.00 - 22.00 CEST


Red Tents

Simultaneous workshops

  • Selfcare for doulas
  • Storytelling
  • Doula in Covid times

Sunday 26th September

10.00 - 12.00 CEST

Simultaneous workshops


Oxytocin and muslim women

We all know that deep connection leads to an increase in oxytocin levels and that oxytocin leads to a deeper connection. As a doula we all connect, to ourselves, to each other, and to the mothers and people we support. We do not really need to speak the same language in order to connect. Though being aware of our own perspectives through which we look at the world and the words we use to place ourselves in this world, can help to connect. As a muslim doula with Belgian roots, I acknowledge the hesitation of many women of minority groups with islamic roots to work with a doula who is not aware of her own 'whiteness' - as a way to express the so called 'majority group'. In the most utterly vulnerable context of pregnancy, giving birth and embracing new life, linguistics do play a role in the process of connection. Therefore it can add value to a doula to be familiar with some expressions and world views that are intrinsically linked to islam. In this interactive workshop we will explore together how socio-linguistic sensitivity and openness can deepen the connection between a doula and a mother and thus increase the flow of oxytocin.

Eva Vergaelen 


Birth Photography

In this workshop you will learn how to deal with the double role as a doula while taking pictures during birth. What are the key moments and how do you face the technical challenges presented by the birthing room? For everyone interested in photography. No experience needed.

Caroline Devulder


Cooking for postpartum

In this interactive workshop we will explore together the importance of adequate care during the postpartum period for a good start in motherhood. This period of 30-40 days after birth is extremely important for the health of the mother, and thus, of the baby. In China there is a saying: 40 days for 40 years. Kathlien and Danie will share their experience in how they have been taking care of mothers after birth. As a doula or birthworker you have a unique position to sensitize and inform your mothers and fathers on how to prepare for this fragile time. The ‘how’ is the topic we will be zooming into during the workshop. Also you can expect a clear understanding of what is happening in the physical, emotional and energetic layers, the special needs of the mother during this period, what to avoid at all cost (and why) and some easy and concrete tools, ranging from recipes to herbs.

Danie Reniers and Kathlien Bridoux


Carrying your baby

Babywearing is so much more than a baby in a sling or carrier. It’s a wonderful tool to stimulate interaction between baby and parents while meeting a baby’s basic need for body contact and proximity. If practiced with the necessary knowledge, it can also be used to help babies to regulate themselves and to stimulate psychomotoric development.

But even though babywearing is a natural thing to do with a history that goes back millions of years, it is, like breastfeeding nowadays, not something that seems to come naturally to most parents. It is a skill you need to develop. Like learning to drive a car, it needs good information, clear instructions, time to practise and preferably a good teacher to guide you.


In this interactive workshop you’ll learn more about the benefits of babywearing:

Why does a baby like to be carried? How does a baby like to be carried? What is a good position? What are the differences between carriers and slings?

Nele Allaert


Pelvic Awareness

During this yoga session, we will be focusing on the sensations that you can feel and experience in your pelvis and pelvic floor. A diversity of micro-movements will give you different effects and impressions in that extensive area. As the pelvis and the surrounding body parts are interacting with each other, a completely different and unique world is opening up to you.


My mission is to prevent pelvic problems as much as possible for women, and to improve and remedy any discomfort experienced. Through a holistic approach I will offer Pelvic Health Yoga. From the perspective that everything is connected with each other: the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual world and wellbeing. All made suitable for the contemporary woman. Transform the imbalance within the system into a healthy and vital functioning body.

Jennifer Neupane-Duin


Red Tent


13.30 - 14.30 CEST

Closing ceremony 2021!


General session

Closing Ceremony

Being thankful for what we have and looking forward to the future.


Florencia Sabio Lhande (Spain) and Veerle Peeters (Belgium)

EDN 2021 Online: Registration Information
EDN 2021 Online
EDN Member Fee: €30
Non-Member Fee: €55
(Includes Friend Membership 2021)
Doula Sponsorship

Deadline for registration: Monday 6th September 2021
Register Now
We are proud to introduce two more doula volunteers from the EDN Office Team! Anita Budak, works her magic with EDN Social Media and Loriane Montel is providing her technical expertise with regards to the EDN web presence.
Anita Budak is a professional birth doula, president of the Croatian Doula Association and doula mentor living in Zagreb.

She is a mother of three girls after whose births she began to actively support women through childbirth.  Anita started the Human Rights in Childbirth free workshop for pregnant women in 2015 and since then has educated hundreds of women on how to position themselves in the birthing system in Croatia: emotionally and  physically, to assure their human rights are fully respected.

She has also started a video podcast "How will she remember this?" about women's experiences in life.

Anita joined the EDN Office a few years ago to help with the EDN Facebook page and is the one who answers your questions in the FB inbox.
Loriane Montel has been at families’ sides since 2015. Living in Germany, even though she’s French, and was trained as doula in Belgium: a real European citizen!

She has had the privilege of experiencing two very different types of pregnancy and birth: single-baby pregnancy with natural birth and a twin pregnancy with C-Section. She supports women in French, English, and German.

Happy and honoured to be part of the EDN team of volunteers as a support for the technical aspects of the EDN website. Being part of such a community full of benevolent doulas is one of the best ways to give and find support!

Erzählcafe - Story Café


On July 7, 2021, the Doula Cloud Munich hosted its first "Erzählcafe" online where two women and a couple talked about their positive doula-assisted birth experiences.  

Alissia, Tanja and her husband and Tatjana emphasised the helpful presence of their doula in different birth settings such as at a home birth and clinic birth. The guests, as far away as from Greece and The Netherlands, had the chance to ask various questions such as how to find a doula, what's the service of a doula and why do I need a doula, even when I have a midwife.  
The answers showed clearly that all parturients felt more empowered and secure with a doula at her side, the continuous presence of the doula eased her pain and relaxed the partner, too.  
Each narrator was supported by a GfG doula moderator to take note of key words and statements on the spot. This makes the difference to a café chatting: a birth cafe is a participative and interactive method of autobiographical narration. Using this kind of self-reflection with personal statements also makes the difference to a setting of discussion or argumentation - or even a "Kaffeeklatsch", coffee morning. The warm and pleasant atmosphere gives the narrators space and confidence to speak freely and helps the listeners to concentrate on a special topic for a certain time. Each story gets its own specific appreciation and each narrator is also appreciated for her great commitment too.  
Hopefully we will open the Doula Cloud Erzählcafe again in winter! Many doula-supported women want to tell their sometimes beautiful, sometimes dramatic birth stories and are ready to answer more questions related to the benefits of doula service, even in pandemic times.
Please check the EDN facebook page for further information or contact



Doulas singing together or for each other ... heart to heart ... to nourish, to feedback, to encourage, to cradle one another with self-love ...
Healing Sounds increase the release of the „love and bonding hormone" oxytocin … and this is only one of the many effects on our body-mind, which we experience when we let our voice sound and surrender and sound together in our DOULA-LA session every week. The Group does not ask for any fees or registration.

Our Sounding is open and free from the need to "sing correctly" or "read music". We just express what has been put into our cradle since time immemorial. Expression through vocal sound.

With inspiring mantras and songs from all over the world we nourish and satisfy our need for community and togetherness in this sacred women's circle. Everyone is invited to bring the songs that resonate within her. Over the last year we have sounded together in Greek, English, German, French, Welsh and Irish Gaelic ...

With much joy and enthusiasm we discover our moods and share joy and sadness, feelings and emotions, blessings and togetherness. And we allow ourselves to write new lyrics for traditional songs that celebrate our sisterhood.

We have a group on MeWe where we collect recordings and texts so whenever we want we can remember and enjoy again, dive deeper and learn if we want. We can also write to each other there and stay in touch in the meantime until the next Doula-la evening. Although we live many hundreds of kilometres away, we feel close and deeply connected in our hearts.

As Doulas and as Women we know the value and sacredness of community. And we all know the value and sacredness of celebrations. In DOULA-LA we create both  celebration and community every week on Tuesday evenings. For pure joy and all other benefits the experience offers.

“Sounding from soul is healing our inner world.
Sounding together in community and creating
a sacred space being one safe and sound,
we are healing the outer world at the same time.”
Sólasan Elina (Founder of DOULA-LA)

Have you become curious? Then please feel free to contact me
your are warmly welcome in our Doula-la,
heartfelt greetings, Sólasan Elina


"My God will not fail"

Annieck Rietbergen Alkemade has been connected with the EDN since the early years and was a doula for 15 years.

In the later years she volunteered as a doula in her local hospital:

That means, that they can call me anytime they have a mother who needs extra support. As a doula I always wrote birthstories after the birth for the parents. In the cases I was a volunteer doula, I made it for the hospital. You can image I have a lot of birthstories! Now I want to give you one of them. To show you how to improvise as a volunteer doula, when you have never met the mother before.

Here is the dutch version, please click here for English.


Het geboorteverhaal van Chimamanda

Vandaag ben ik in museum de Kunsthal met een vriendin, als mijn telefoon gaat. Het GHZ.
Ons ziekenhuis. Ze hebben een Afrikaanse vrouw, die ingeleid wordt, maar kunnen geen contact met haar
krijgen. Het is nog helemaal in het begin, dus geen haast.
Natuurlijk wil ik wel meteen weg. Voor de vorm lopen we nog een paar rondjes, maar mijn hart is er niet meer bij.
Dat is allang in het GHZ.
Halverwege de middag kom ik de verloskamer binnen. In bed ligt een grote Afrikaanse vrouw, met een netje over haar haar.
Ik stel me voor en ze blijkt vloeiend Engels te spreken
Ik leg uit wat ik kom doen en ze knikt niet begrijpend. Geeft niet.
Als er een wee komtvraag ik of ze mee wil ademen .Er is een weerstand om mee te doen.
Ze ligt er ook helemaal niet goed bij. Plat op haar rug en op haar borst ligt een enorme bijbel.
Voorzichtig vraag ik of dat boek eraf mag, maar nee, de schrik zit er meteen in.
Dan stel ik voor , samen het Onze Vader te bidden en dan het boek op het nachtkastje te leggen.
Nu heb ik haar aandacht. Samen bidden we het Onze Vader ( hoe ontroerend) en het boek mag eraf.
Als er een wee komt, balt ze haar vuist en heft haar arm op.
Ik pak bij de volgende wee haar hand en blijf op haar inpraten, rustig, rustig , adem maar mee, dan heb je minder pijn,
goed zo , goed zo.
Tussen de weeën door vertel ik wat over mezelf. Mijn grote gezin.
Zoetjesaan komen we tot wat contact. Ze vertelt dat ze vluchtelingen zijn uit Niger. Haar moeder en zusjes wonen
daar nog. Ze is hoogopgeleid, en heeft massacommnicatie gestudeerd.Maar helaas nog geen werk hier gevonden.
Ze blijkt dicht bij mij in de buurt te wonen. Haar man kan niet bij de bevalling zijn, want één van haar twee zoontjes is autistisch en kan niet bij een oppas. Volgens haar was hij gezond, maar is dit het gevolg van een inenting.
De weeën zetten niet echt door en de gynaecoloog komt erachter, dat de infuus niet goed gezet is.
Er wordt besloten dat ze naar de verkoeverkamer wordt gebracht, waar de anesthesioloog het misschien wel lukt.
De arm is zo dik, dat het buitengewoon moeilijk is een ader te vinden.
Wanneer we daar aankomen, moeten we even op onze beurt wachten.
Ze wordt misselijk en begint over te geven.Oh Oh , wat een ellende.
Ik doe de gordijnen rond het bed dicht, even wat privacy en rust.
Uiteindelijk lukt het de infuusnaald te zetten. Infuus aan en weer terug naar de kamer.
Daar aangekomen moet ze plassen. Nu ze staat, zie ik pas hoe groot ze is.
Onderweg naar de wc komt er weer een wee, ik zeg, leun maar even op mij.
Maar de verpleegkundige, die er nog was, zei néé, dat kan niet hoor en ze had gelijk.
Nu steunde ze tegen de muur, want ik had haar zeker niet kunnen houden!
De weeën beginnen frequenter te komen en ja, ze gaat met me mee ademen.
Ik vraag of ze weet wat het zal worden?
Een meisje. Hoe fijn na 2 jongetjes zeg ik.
Ze is ook blij, maar ook verdrietig. Tijdens haar vorige zwangerschap had ze ook een meisje, dat in haar buik is 
Deze bevalling draagt dat  verdriet en de angst met zich mee!
Ik probeer zo goed mogelijk te helpen, slokjes water, washandje, lieve woorden.
Totdat ze haar vuist weer begint te ballen en haar arm omhoog gaat.
Daarna slaat ze met haar vuist op het matras.
Het contact is weer weg.
Dan zie ik dat ze begint te persen. Meteen druk ik op de rode knop en probeer haar te laten zuchten, wat niet lukt.
Ik loop naar de deur en roep in de lege gang: "assistentie verzocht".
Gelukkig komt er meteen een arts aanlopen. Nog net op tijd om handschoenen aan te trekken, want in één beweging
komt de baby eruit. Gelanceerd gewoon. Ik kijk de arts verbaasd aan. De baby is blakend gezond en wordt bij de
moeder neergelegd.
Haar naam Chiamanda ( My God wil not fail, is de betekenis).
Ik maak foto's van haar met haar dochter en zij stuurt ze naar haar moeder en zusjes.
Na een uurtje komt haar man met de twee zoontjes.
Ik maak zoveel mogelijk foto's.
Hij heeft een cadeau voor me meegebacht.
Een tas met handgemaakte zeep, door de moeder gemaakt.
Ik laat een gelukkig gezin achter en ga voldaan naar huis.
Met Kerstmis krijg ik een sms.": Je bent een geschenk van God voor mij geweest!"
Annieck Rietbergen Alkemade 
doula in the Netherlands
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"My God will not fail"

The birth of Chimamanda

Today I am in The Kunsthal museum with a girlfriend, when my phone rings.
It is our hospital. 
They have an African women, who is induced and it is impossible for them to connect with her.
They just started so I don't have to hurry.
 Of course I want to leave at once!
 To be social to my friend we walk a little more
in the museum, but my heart is no longer there.
It is already in the hospital!
About 3 o'clock I enter the delivery room.
 In bed lays a very large African women, with a hairnet over her hair.
 I introduce myself.
She speaks flowing English.
 I explain to her that I am coming to help her and will stay until her baby is born.
 She nods, it seems to me she is not understanding. 
When a contraction is coming I ask her to breathe together with me.
But I feel a resistance to do so.
I see she is not laying comfortable
 Flat on her back. On her breast lays a giant bible.
Carefully I ask her if the bible can be removed. 
But no! I see her frightened.
 Than I suggest that we pray together "Our Father" and after that remove the bible.
 Now I have her attention. And she wanted it!
Together we pray "Our Father" (how moving) and the book may be removed.
If the contraction is coming she balls her fist and lifts her arm.
With the next contraction I take her hand and kept talking,
 Easy easy, let's breathe together, then you will have less pain.
Ok ok, now we are doing well.
In between the contractions I start telling her about myself, my big family of 7 children.
Calmly we have some connection.
 She seems to be highly educated. She is a relious refugee. She is living in my neighborhood.
Her husband is not able to support her, because one of her two sons is disabled and there is no possibility to leave him to a babysitter.
The contractions continue not well,
 So the gynecologist finds out that the drip was not working in the right way.
They decided to bring her to the recovery room, where an anesthetist can put it in again. 
Her arm is very large, so is it extremely difficult to find or reach a vein.
When I came in with her we had to wait and she starts throwing up.
Oh oh, what a misery!
I close the curtains round her bed for some privacy.
Finally the infusion needle is in the right place.
Now we go back to our room.
The contractions are now coming regular and in the meantime she trusts me enough to breathe together.
In between the contractions I ask her if she already knows what she will have?
A girl she answered me. She is glad and sad.
Before she lost a girl during a 6 month pregnancy .
Now I understand her fear!
I help her as good as I can.
Some water, washcloth, kind words.
Than she starts to ball her fist again and lifting her arm.
Our connection is broken again.
Now I see that she starts pushing
Directly I push the red button.
Happily the doctor came in immediately.
In one big push her daughter was born.
The baby is beautiful and healthy.
I take a lot of pictures for her husband, her mother and sisters in Niger.
I stay with her until her husband arrives with her two sons.
Again I made pictures of the whole family.
I left a happy family.
At Christmas I received a text message from her:
"You were a gift of God to me"
Annieck Rietbergen Alkemade 
Doula in the Netherlands
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