Conference update 
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Summer Newsletter contents: 
- EDN conference update
- EDN Survey Results 
- Birth with a doula during the Corona pandemic
- Icelandic connections 
- Introducing the EDN Treasury team

EDN 2020 Conference Update

The EDN’s 10th Anniversary year is proving to be particularly challenging all across the world and it has not been possible to keep the plan proposed at the beginning of the year.

The EDN2020 Planning Team have been discussing the current situation and proposes a weekend of zoom conference sessions, with an informal doula gathering in Athens for those who already planned to attend.

There are a few ‘umbrella’ topics addressing themes which are particularly relevant this year:

  • Bridging the gap: skills and tools to help support clients at a distance

  • Prejudices in Mothering: including disability, ethnicity and systemic racism and supporting refugees.

  • Working with Couples.

  • Mediation Skills applied within doulaing in areas where conflicts arise.

  • Death, Loss and Doulaing: from stillbirth to perinatal loss, bereavement and End of Life support for people of all ages.

  • EDN Survey 2020: presentation and discussion of the questions raised about the experiences of EDN doulas.


As EDN turns the decade and gets nearer to becoming a teenager, getting clever with technology seems more important than ever! Our planning team are also be working on how to support guests through the technological aspects of the conference. 

We invite you to check for future updates on how to reserve your place and the details of the zoom conference agenda on the EDN Facebook, EDN Website and via your EDN representative 

The EDN Survey Results: Ready for discussion!

For those of us lucky enough to be at the EDN Prague 2019 meeting there was an intense period of active listening as doula representatives from each of the different countries across the network talked about their situation as doulas in their country. As we heard our sister doulas speak it quickly became clear that the experience of doulas is not the same everywhere. As an example, in some countries doulas are a recognised and appreciated member of the birth team, while in other places they are excluded from entering hospitals, despite the wishes of their clients. 

Throughout the year members often share studies and research related to birthing. At the very start of this year studies from Poland and Lithuania regarding birth care were shared to the group. Some of our members thought it would be powerful to have a collection of similar data from all across the region. But, realising the difficulty of getting comparable research for every country, we thought that instead, just as at the conference, our EDN doulas would prove to be an excellent resource to help us learn more about the world of doulas across our network. No survey of this scale has ever been conducted here and the European Doula Network is in the perfect position to bring information to light!

The survey was launched during World Doula Week at the end of March and we were so heartened to receive the responses of over 600 EDN doulas. What we found out in this survey is surprising for some questions and totally expected in others. That said, our survey went out at the start of Europe becoming the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemia and restrictions started to bring huge changes to the birthing experiences of women and the presence of doulas at births. In the rare cases of a birthing companion still being admitted it was most likely to be the woman’s partner. So it must be kept in mind that these statistics represent the experience of doulas prior to Covid-19. 

Here is some general information gathered from the doulas who participated in the survey. Most of the responding doulas were aged 35-44 (58%), followed by 25-34 (25%) and 45-54 (19%). Their doula experience ranged from having supported 1 client to hundreds of clients at the moment of filling in the survey. The biggest group of doulas were birth doulas, as expected (89%), and more than half (55%) are also postpartum doulas. The birthing doulas had supported 5 births on average over the previous 12 months. However, we also have doulas who doula for bereavement (8%) and the end of life (6%). Sadly, Covid-19 has made us all more aware of human mortality: will some doulas be interested in increasing their knowledge base in these areas to help give their listening support to more clients regarding death?

Most of the doulas have been trained by their local doula organization (73%), but in smaller countries where the number of doulas is low we can see that workshop training by DONA International is more popular, as this is the only training available (15%). In these situations final certification is low because of various reasons: not being able to enter the hospital for birth, certification is too expensive, the process is too complicated, or they don't think it is necessary to be certified. 

While the vast majority have been trained through extended courses and workshops, one in ten doulas trained online. Over 80% of doulas had attended a doula-related event, workshop or Continuing Professional Development over the previous year. Will more online training be held now we are experiencing greater restrictions in movement and proximity due to Covid-19? What are the benefits and disadvantages of distance training? How can learning online be improved and ensure a high quality learning experience?

After training, two thirds of doulas had their first client within a month. However, only 1 in 10 doulas can earn a living wage working solely as a doula. A significant 57% of doulas stated that they cannot earn a living as a doula and seventy percent have other jobs. However, doulas who have participated in the survey mostly still see themselves being a doula in five year’s time (63%) and almost a third of them (28%) plan to continue doulaing from time to time. This seems to indicate that as doulas we love our job, but only 1 in 10 of us make a living wage. Can we see a future with more doulas able to make a living as a doula? How might this happen? Can doulas share tips on how to make doula enterprises a success?

Just over a quarter (27%) have experienced “burnout” symptoms related to doulaing. But most consider their doula communities are supportive, with seventy percent of doulas having back up doulas and supervision. So, are there any ways doula sisters can help support each other to avoid burnout? How can we help ‘doula’ each other when burnout happens?

Doulas have an exceptional ‘fly on the wall’ perspective of what actually happens, or not, in birthing situations, and are nearly always independent from the institutions in which birthing most frequently happens. So perhaps the most interesting responses were about Human Rights in Childbirth. We asked doulas if they had witnessed any violations of human rights in the birthing room and got interesting data from different countries. In all 23 countries that participated over 50% of doulas reporting such violations had witnessed no informed consent, and in most countries this was as high as 70% of doulas reporting they had observed interventions with no informed consent from the woman giving birth. 

Of those who had witnessed denial of bodily autonomy (such as the birthing woman’s right to freely move, eat, drink or go to the toilet) this ranged from 27% in Switzerland to an unbelievably high 92% in Hungary. Emotional coercion (58%) and verbal abuse/humiliation (47%) had also been witnessed by a considerable number of doulas across the whole European Doula Network. Finally, more than 1 doula in 4 had observed physical abuse or restraint.

EDN doulas feel that they are informed about human rights, yet half of them said they would still like to know more. This could raise questions like:
  • Could this be an important future focus for training and CPD? 
  • How can doulas approach human rights in other ways? 
  • What ‘grassroots’ techniques can be used to inform clients and the women in our communities? 
  • Can this survey data be useful to help doulas work with official and non-governmental organisations to promote and improve human rights in birthing, especially in the covid-19 era?

According to our survey, only 1 in 3 doulas are welcomed in hospitals, with 55% saying they were sometimes welcome and 15% stated they were not welcome at all. Which also brings us to 1 in 4 doulas who feel that their local community doesn't value their work as a doula (27%). 
  • What can be done to improve the perception of doulas both within their communities and in hospitals? 
  • Now we live in a period of global pandemia, how can we continue to offer the best support possible to our clients, their partners and families?

We fully welcome you to participate in the analysis of the survey and exciting discussions which will be presented via zoom during our EDN2020 Conference, in the afternoon on Saturday 5th September! We feel the results are fascinating and are a great opportunity for our doulas to come together to share ideas and suggestions to help us all become better connected, better informed and better supported, working constructively together! 

What are your ideas? Do you have any suggestions? Do you have contacts in the birthing world who would be interested in knowing about this survey? Please feel free to contact us!

Birth with a doula during the Corona pandemic

by Špela Peternel
I usually work with my clients for 2-3 months before the birth. We prepare for birth in our three individual meetings, where I get to know the women and what to expect during the birth. I also get to know her partner, so that during the birth we can work together as a team and support the women. And of course, this is also the time during which they get to know me, trust me and see how I work, so that we can anticipate how we well work together during birth.
However, this was a strange time. In February there was a huge outbreak of Covid in Italy, and as Slovenia is a neighbouring country, our hospitals started to prepare for the epidemic. Since we do not have independent midwifery units, the majority of our women give birth in hospital. Only a few of them choose homebirth.
But as the epidemic started, doulas were banned from hospitals, than fathers were not allowed either. And at the same time homebirths were banned. So overnight Slovenian women were left without any support, had to go to the hospital alone and were met there by the birthing teams of midwifes and doctors, often dressed in full protective equipment.
It was hard to prepare women for these kinds of birth. But we quickly adapted to the new weird and scary reality. As I am a DreamBirth doula I was grateful to have a tool to help and support moms during this crazy times.
Just before the lock-down of the hospitals I met with a new client. She came to me because she had just a month to prepare for birth. As the birth was approaching, she realised, she was not strong enough to go there just with her partner. She did not want him to get scared and she felt that they both would benefit from the additional support.
We met once before the quarantine started. I told them a lot, but not nearly enough. Our next two meetings we had to have online. We were in contact a lot also through mail and on the phone, so I was all the time aware of her fears and I knew what she was telling me, but of course it is different to feel a person alive, to feel what she is thinking.
We managed to get her ready, but the hospitals were still closed for all birth partners, including her husband. So, her due date came and went, and the birth did not start. She was almost 10 days over her due date and her doctor suggested to induce the labour. But she wanted to wait. And then, on the last day she was managed to negotiate to wait, her birth slowly started.  First it was just an occasional surge, but then, as the sun was setting and the evening started, the labour intensified. She called me to come. We stayed at home for several hours as the surges were coming and going, swaying her into her own world, as her husband and I hold her space and supported her.
She was using visualisations to stay in her safe space, to open and labour progressed quickly. Soon it was time to drive her to the hospital. The drive was not too long, but as the birth was now really intense, the ride was a challenge for her.
When we came, she did not want to go to the hospital, as we could not go with her. But we did a visualisation for her protection and we started a videocall, as she went into the hospital. Actually, the labour was so far along by then, that the midwife came to pick her up, as she was not able to walk alone anymore. When she saw the midwife, she was so happy, as the midwife that she really liked came for her. It was a perfect opportunity for her husband to tell the midwife what she wanted, because she was just having another surge. We stayed in front of the hospital on the videocall with her throughout the labour and birth. Even though she was almost fully dilated as we came, it was her first birth and it needed some time. As we were in contact, her husband was constantly in communication with the midwife, so he was holding the safe space and enabled her to focus in the labour as I guided her through the surges and reminded her to rest in between the pushes during pushing stage.
She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. And even though most women were traumatised by these kinds of births where they were left without the support, she had both her husband and doula by her side all the time. She felt supported and though I know I could not give her all the comfort the doula could normally provide, she got what she needed for her magical experience during the crazy times in which she had to give birth. And I learned to adapt quickly to the new reality and how sometimes just the right word at the right time can make a huge difference.
Loving doula hug
Icelandic connections
Soffía Bæringsdóttir
Dear doulas,
I hope you are all safe in this weird times.

I guess April 2020 was strange for most of us and plus Covid I had some professional changes here in Iceland that felt a little overwhelming and I found my self doubting myself, my work and vision. I felt in need for guidance and took a long brave breath and sent out an email, looking for inspiration and connection. I asked and the universe delivered.

I connected with four wonderful doulas whom I had met at our last EDN meeting. We sat down in front of our computers and shared, reflected, connected and laughed. It was such an inspiration to me. We found out that we are all just about on the same boat, Covid- restrictions, online work that we were not used to, doubting ourselves at times but carrying this passionate heart for serving. I think we all gained from this connection and even laughed hard as well. Doulaing the doula, nothing can beat that.

For me it was a huge inspiration, gave me wind beneath my wings again and I feel things are back on track, new wonderful things have come my way here and I even feel more enthusiastic that I have for a long time. I just wanted to share with you how wonderful it was to reach out and how thankful I am for those who were willing to share their time and wisdom with me. Thank you wholeheartedly.

Introducing the EDN team
- keeping the network running day-to-day


At the beginning of the EDN Committee meeting at Prague September 2019 there was a special request for greater volunteer assistance to help manage the running of the EDN. It was proposed that ideally each role has two volunteers, which allows the doulas to both support each other and to act as a back-up when one is unavailable. Each newsletter we will meet one of these volunteer teams.

This month we meet the EDN office treasury team 

Andrea Guzzo

I am the Treasurer and take care of EDN finances. I also participate in supporting the membership team. If you have any issue regarding EDN membership fees or financial administration relating to EDN you can contact me. If you are already a member and have any questions relating to your membership fee or receipt of payment, please get in touch!

I am a Doula, Breastfeeding Consultant and Doula trainer. I was born in Montevideo, Uruguay but have been living in Spain since 2002. Being part of EDN and contributing to the union and support of Doulas from all over Europe and beyond is an honour.
Get in touch with the EDN Account department: 

Michèle Stratmann, Switzerland
I love my life and “painting visions on the horizon”. Keeping them in my mind as well as in my heart for about one generation now, I’m talking about them almost every day and I’m working continuously and with passion, care and the patience required. I’m one of the EDN-founders and have been a birthkeeper since 2001.
As an experienced Swiss doula trainer and mentor I feel blessed, thankful and proud to be part of the really busy EDN-board and to support our treasurer Andrea Guzzo. I believe that – together with a strong united doula circle, in collaboration with parents, midwives, doctors and other people who truly care for a healthy birth and birthing culture around the globe – we can change the world.
With the youngest girl of our 5 wonderful children, I live close to a mystic lake in the Zurich area. Feel free to contact and visit me. Let’s "rock’n’doula“ on! Doula Fachschule Schweiz


Want to join our network? 

The European Doula Network (EDN) is an umbrella organisation and membership is open to doula associations and doula trainings from Europe and the Mediterranean region. From countries where no such organisations exist, we support “Pioneer Doulas” if they plan to build up an association in the future. The EDN can offer a mentoring process for these doulas.

Members of the EDN should wish to:

  • exchange experiences
  • learn from each other
  • optimise their work and grow in quality and by number
  • raise the profile of the work of doulas across Europe and beyond
Apply for membership now
We want to hear from you! 

Please send Submissions for the next EDN newsletter to Hazel Acland Tree: and put NEWSLETTER in the subject line. Deadline for next newsletter is September 30th 2020

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The newsletter was sent by Hazel Acland Tree on behalf of the European Doula Network, opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the individual contributors and not EDN, unless specified..