The EDN News
Winter Newsletter 2015 



How time flies!  It’s hard to believe that we were in warm sunshine in London just two months ago and we are already sending you the last newsletter of 2015!  The weather is definitely turning colder here at the EDN office in Switzerland but it can’t dampen our spirits after a wonderful few months full of doula activities 


We have a very big newsletter for you to enjoy so grab a cup of something you love and get comfortable!  You might even need a couple of 'sittings' so perhaps some cake would be a good accompaniment too! 


European Doulas in London!  

The 5th annual meeting in London was a huge success!  23 doulas were present representing 13 different nations plus over 80 Doula UK doulas!  Amazing feedback has come our way from all European corners.  We were thrilled with the way everything went.  The outstanding hospitality we received from Bridget Baker and the Doula UK team was second to none.  The speakers and presentations were thought provoking and inspiring and a great deal of important work was done!  


Among the highlights were many interesting presentations and updates from across Europe and fascinating sessions on ‘Human Rights in Childbirth’ from Elizabeth Prochaska (Birthrights).   





After a stroll through the park and some tree-hugging some of the visiting doulas enjoyed beer in a real English pub complete with a rugby match in the background!  We shared a magical ‘salt bowl’ ceremony and delicious food.   


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Sunday morning brought the hard work of creating the EDN ‘Code of Ethics’.  It’s difficult to describe just how much love, thought and careful attention went into the writing of this important document - it was truly a labour of love!

We said a fond farewell to our lovely Sabine who officially retired from the EDN office and was showered with love, gifts and even a song!  And in keeping with tradition, Sabine then passed on a beautiful scarf and other special gifts that will serve to symbolically protect and support us as we take on the responsibility of caring for the EDN! 





Amazing Maria Andreoulaki from Greece was willing, and more than able, to keep the minutes for our meeting in London.  Members can log in here for your reading pleasure. 


As you can see, many beautiful connecting moments took place during the 5th annual EDN meeting in London.  If you weren’t able to make it, we know you were with us in spirit!  Many of you so generously contributed to our "I am a Doulaslide show so you were with us that way as well.  The slide show played at various times throughout our Saturday gathering at the Tomlinson Centre while beautiful birth related music by Nina Lee played in the background.   


And finally, for a look at our entire weekend together spent working, laughing, crying and sharing stories, you can click here 


Save The Date! Barcelona 16 - 18 September 2016


It's wonderful to see how important our network is becoming and how valuable this meeting is.  So many of you offered to host the 2016 EDN meeting and we are incredibly grateful to you all!  It was agreed in London that we must take the meeting to the place it's needed most and on that basis we decided that Barcelona would be the next location.   So much is happening in Spain and we are sure you will agree that after the ‘Infome Doula’ was issued earlier in the year, we need to show our support and solidarity in Spain.   


Membership Fee Deadline – 31 January 2016 


We will be sending out invoices for next year’s membership fees in December.  We have set a deadline for invoice payment no later than 31 January 2016.  Unfortunately, we've had to do a lot of chasing of membership fees this year, the last of which, we have only just received this month!  As volunteers, we feel that our time can be spent so much more effectively in promoting the doula cause all across Europe without having to spend time writing reminder emails about membership fees.  So we’ve decided to be quite strict on the deadline.  You need to pay by 31 January 2016 or we will regrettably have to discontinue your membership If there are specific circumstances, which stop you from meeting the deadline we still need to hear from you no later than 31 January 2016.  We hope you understand our position and we are very grateful for your cooperation! 


Online European Doula Guide – from Maria Andreoulaki 


I was very inspired by the initiative of "Doulas de France" some years back to create a publication of all existing doula organizations and doula courses in Europe.  Click here for the 2007 Guide:  Cahier No 2.  Many things have changed for doulas in Europe and all over the world since 2007!  I wish to form a working group with a few other doulas, preferably from different European countries, to create an updated version of the European Doula Guide.  The Guide will be online so it will be easy to update as needed.  My goal is to have all European doula organizations and preparation programmes included. 


Here is my plan for what the working group will need to do: 


1.  Collect as many doula contacts as possible from all over Europe. 

2.  Create and send out an invitation letter for our project.  Ideally in all the native languages of the people it is addressed to. 

3.  Create a set of questions to be answered by each organization/preparation programme. 

4.  Translations as needed into all languages whose doula organizations are included. 

5.  Collect all answers and process and categorize them. 

6.  Format, graphics, title, front cover design, etc. 

7.  Proof-reading 

8.  Possible follow-ups for clarifications with organizations as needed before the deadline. 


If you can help with any of the above, either on an on-going basis (actively involved in the project), or as a one-shot deal (e.g. contributing with one translation, or sending some doula contacts), please get in touch with me!  Ideally I would like us to be two main people dedicated to this project and then create small teams for the various tasks needed to see this project through to fruition.  I really look forward to hearing from you! 


Maria Andreoulaki, 

Doula & Doula Course Facilitator, 

Greek EDN Representative. 


Men, Love & Birth - Mark Harris  A book review by Maddie McMahon 


Before we start this review, a small disclaimer is probably necessary.  I know Mark Harris, the author of this new book on birth and, after a couple of years of online interaction, some lovely chinwags on the phone and a few real world hugs, I would consider him a mate. Still, I hope I’d be a good enough mateto tell him straight if I thought his book was a pile of pants.  
But I don’t.  I think it rocks.  
I first met Mark a couple of years ago at the Doula UK conference.  

We were both speaking at the event, both first timers as speakers and a little sweaty and nervous as a result.  I remember sitting alone, reading my notes, when a large man, with a big grin on his face sat down next to me.  I’m no good at small talk, and apparently, neither is Mark.  Within 2 minutes I knew all about him as he regaled me with stories from his midwifery career and confided in me that he had lost his first wife and had brought up his kids single-handed.  This guy sure knows how to get women on his side. 


He was the surprise hit of that conference, bringing mirth, merriment and more than a few tears of joy to the proceedings.  He made 200 friends that day and has been taken firmly into the hearts of doulas everywhere.  There are so few men in the birth world that I have always thought that’s why we get a little giggly and adoring of them.  Yet I don’t think Mark has so many fans JUST because he’s a man in a woman’s world.  I think it’s because he ‘gets’ us.  He really, blooming does.  In a way that makes us want to shout, “hallelujah, at last, a man who understands the heart of a woman!” And that’s the heart of Mark’s book, really.  How can you, the man, the father, be the Papa-bear, guarding the cave, nurturing your woman and creating the optimal hormonal environment to facilitate birth without violence?  He knows all the tricks to help you support her so that not only can she be a Goddess in the birth room, but she looks at you as the God who walked with her, sweeping aside all obstacles with one, muscular forearm. 


This book takes a close look at men in the birth room, men as fathers and companions, and deconstructs the social paradigms of aggression, disassociation, repulsion or fainting by taking away the fear.  It helps men understand how their cocktail of hormones can be used to complement hers and thereby create a safe, loving environment.  Mark’s voice, and the voices of the men he includes, walk us through the physiology of birth so that fathers can understand the basic needs of a woman in labour.  With information, he takes away fear.  He doesn’t just tell men to step up, he shows them how.  In minute detail.  And with a cheeky glint in his eye at all times. 


Rarely has a book on birth made me hoot with laughter so many times.  I’m not sure that any book on birth, ever, has instructed the man to look around the house, find a job that needs doing and do it, without saying anything and without expecting thanks.  That one piece of advice may do more to create a generation of swooning females than any other in the history of womankind. 


Yes guys, it’s official and evidence-based: men who do housework get more sex.  And stop press:  if you pleasure her, without regard for your own pleasure, you’re helping her give birth…”so no coming on her tits” (you heard it here first 😉 ). 


Seriously though, this book does fulfil a definite need.  Mark joins Dean at Daddynatal, who has also been doing great work educating fathers, in the pantheon of dad-supporters.  Long may this new era last of fathers being encouraged and supported to be active, knowledgeable participants in the births of their babies.  I love that partners are finally being told that, like their pregnant lovers, they too have choice and control and can be calm, loving actors in this amazing play. 


Us doulas have to thank him for his active and compassionate support of our role.  Mark completely understands how and why a doula may be a useful addition in the birth room – and quotes my book extensively.  Thanks Mate! 


I have to admit to a teeny-tiny feeling of frustration that the book about birth that gets the most mainstream press attention, in the year that the great Sheila Kitzinger’s swansong was published, is a funny little book by a 20 stone male midwife.  But that’s far from Mark’s fault.  Feminist principles aside, if a midwife who is mistaken for the security guard gets some fundamental messages about gentle, undisturbed birth out there into the mainstream, who are am I to get my knickers in a twist? 


Thanks Mark, yep, you’re right, this IS the book “your pregnant lover wants you to read”, so it does what it says on the tin. 


Men, Love and Birth is available from Pinter & Martin. 


Maddie is a doula, doula course leader and breastfeeding counsellor in Cambridge, UK.  She has vast experience supporti ng new parents. She is the author of 'Why Doulas Matter' and writes a blog about birth and breastfeeding issues at The Birth Hub


Midwifery Today Conference 21-25 October 2015 in Bad Wildbad, Germany 



It’s fair to say that during the third week of October, Bad Wildbad, a quiet little town tucked away in the Black Forest, was completely taken over and embraced heartily by a couple of hundred midwives, doulas and even a few obstetricians.  Doula Angelika Rodler from Austria was stopped on the street and asked if “the midwives were back”.  With a bright red smile framed by her gorgeous red hair, she responded with a question, “why do you ask?” “You are all so special and always bring so much colour to our tiny town!  Please come back again soon ”, he replied with a twinkle in his eye!  This was Midwifery Today’s 6th conference in Bad Wildbad.  


Although they were fabulous in their colourful attire, it probably wasn’t only midwife Lisa Goldstein’s love of purple from head to toe (literally) or Angelika Rodler’s passion for red that swooned the locals.  There were women and even a few men from 49 different countries that took the spa-town by storm.  Among the amazing, earth-moving change-makers was a group of obstetricians, midwives, doulas and a birth psychologist from Turkey who have started a physiological childbirth revolution in their country called “Birth With No Regret”. 

ImageImageBrilliant doula and midwife Gail Tully was there teaching her spectacular Spinning Babies course with doula Jennifer Walker.  Gentle Robin Lim gave a passionate presentation on premature cord cutting, referring to those that do so as “vampires in the room”.  Cornelia Enning taught on breech birth in water.  And as tiny and petite as Sister Morning Star is, she absolutely filled a room with her ancient Native American wisdom on birth and oh so much more! 
The list of outstanding speakers and participants goes on and on.  There were classes on prolonged labour, resolving shoulder dystocia, rebozo techniques, malpresentation, hemorrhage prevention and management and even one called “Sore Boobies and Bottoms”.   For any birth junky, it was like being a kid in a candy store. 


It was so hard to choose between all of the remarkable teachers and their workshops.  Which only means that we must return for more! 
Author and pioneer midwife Elizabeth Davis was given Midwifery Today’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Elizabeth’s contribution to grass-roots midwifery is beyond inspiring!  To see how she was honored in Bad Wildbad click here.  To learn more about Elizabeth and how she is rocking the birth world, visit her website.
On Wednesday evening of that glorious week, Debra Pascali Bonaro, Lisa Sykes and Mary Kalau were privileged to circle with 45 doulas and midwives to share the “herstory” and current activities of the EDN.  We also exchanged information and ideas on how doulas and midwives can best support each other.  It was a very honest and fruitful discussion and we look forward to being formally involved with future events like this one.

The Saturday night cabaret was a special highlight!  ImageTo see the vast array of amazing talent from all over the world was mind-blowing.  Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space to communicate them all with you in this newsletter, but we will share one particularly funny performance with you here.  Jeri Lynn Clark is an American midwife working in Uganda.  However, the birth story she tells took place in the US. 
The magic of bringing these incredible movers and shakers of the birth world together was made complete by the many informal gatherings at the Palais Thermal Spa.  No clothing is required in this spa, so you can imagine the free spirit that soared throughout this beautifully tiled Romanesque space.  During that wonderful October week full of colour in the Black Forest, it would not have been uncommon for a local to wander into any of the many pools, saunas or steam rooms and hear naked midwives and doulas singing together.  It was like listening to heaven’s angels on earth!

So yes, dear bearded gentleman of Bad Wildbad, we, colourful midwives and doulas, would be honored to return to your lovely town someday soon… hopefully with many more of our colourful friends in hand!  



The next Midwifery Today conference in Europe will take place in Strasburg, France in October 2016.  Click here for more information.  You can also subscribe to Midwifery Today’s magazine or e-news here. 


This and future newsletters 


We LOVE to receive your articles and contributions for the newsletter!  Do you have a book review or recipe you'd like to share?  Have you attended an inspiring conference or workshop and want to tell us all about it?  Would you like to shout about your own trainings and events?  If you have something that you would like to share with other doulas, please contact us on the usual email address. 


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We wish you and yours a peaceful holiday season and in the coming year, may you make positive change happen in your local birth community, one belly at a time! 


With love, 

Lisa and Mary in the EDN Office  


Small snowflake