Birth Worker/Family Sponsorship Programs
The Birth Society’s mission is to help create empowered communities by providing inclusive opportunities to access birth support services and facilitate education in the greater Edmonton area. Our vision: Shifting Birth Culture.
The Birth Society aims to “Shift Birth Culture” by:
•providing subsidies for families to access doula support. We intend to fundraise, obtain sponsorships, donations and grants to allocate funds for families to obtain doula support. Through this initiative we also intend to provide a living wage to the diverse birth workers we sponsor for training (more on this below). We intend to support 4 families in year 3.
•connecting families with a network of culturally and ethnically diverse birth workers. We will draw from the diverse birth workers we sponsor for training (more on this below).
•providing subsidized training for people in under-represented communities who wish to help their communities and earn a living wage doing so. We intend to fundraise, obtain sponsorships, donations and grants to sponsor people from these communities to take a doula training from our recommended list. We have created a comprehensive list of birth worker trainings that are full-spectrum, anti-oppressive and culturally sensitive, and many of these trainings are done by BIPOC/trans/non-binary people so we are also excited to support these people. We intend to fund 8 birth worker trainings in year 3.
•mentoring and supporting birth workers on an ongoing basis. The support for birth workers won’t stop when their training is complete - pairings will be made with a volunteer experienced birth worker from our community, and eventually an online community for all of our sponsored birth workers will be formed.
•the advisory board: this board is made up of leaders within the various under-represented communities of Edmonton. This board will meet quarterly to identify members of their community that demonstrate excellent leadership and advocacy skills (so we may approach them with a sponsorship offer), and current issues within the birthing system that need to be brought to attention. With the advice from this board, we will be able to distribute financial support and mentorship for birth worker training accordingly, as well as use our platform to make positive and impactful change within these spaces. We intend to increase our advisory board to 10 people by year 5.
Who Will it Benefit?
Regardless of what stage a family is at in their birth journey, we all need the right support and resources to feel empowered to make smart decisions and be autonomous. We recognize that many people that are marginalized in our city face a number of barriers to both becoming a birth worker and obtaining a birth worker, and a good chunk of these barriers are financial. The Birth Society hopes to fill this gap by financially sponsoring both people who want to become birth workers and people who need the support of a birth worker. We hope that by providing more access to full-spectrum and culturally-sensitive trainings, we can diversify the birth worker community of Edmonton which, at the moment, is primarily white and heteronormative.
Birth workers are not medical professionals and we don’t work for the health care system. This gives birth workers the unique position of solely advocating and caring for the family’s needs. This has the positive effect of ensuring people are informed and empowered, however because of this birth workers are not a government-subsidized service and families need to pay out-of-pocket to obtain the resources they need. If we look at birth outcomes alone, according to evidence birth workers contribute to a 39% reduction in Cesarean birth, a 38% reduction in in the risk of a low baby’s APGAR score and a 31% decrease in the birthing person having a birth they perceive as traumatic. This is only birth-specific outcomes, there are a number of positive outcomes unique to those who’ve obtained a postpartum support person. Individuals in our community deserve equal access to these benefits, despite any socio-economic barriers, and they need options to hire birth workers who come from their own community and understand their unique needs for support.