Your doula will be with you on one of the most personal and vulnerable days of you life. It’s important that you feel comfortable with who she is and that she fit well into your family dynamic.
If there is a specific doula from our team that you feel drawn to, let us know! Or if you’d like to interview a few, we’d be happy to meet you for tea to help you find your perfect doula match.
Area Serviced: GTA, East and West Toronto, North York, Etobicoke
Special Training: DONA, Birthing From Within, Hypnobirthing, Rebozo, Acupressure, Adult and Infant CPR, Birth Story Processing
Amanda’s interest in childbirth began in High School, where she volunteered with Revolution, Girl Style; a group of young women who organized and facilitated leadership workshops for High School girls in Northern Ontario. Her workshops on menstruation and pregnancy introduced her to the birthing world and were the main motivation for her path as a doula.
In her work, Amanda draws on her background in human biology (BSc), peer counseling, crisis intervention and assisting in home daycares to offer insightful and practical preparation for both the emotional and physiological experience of birthing and parenting.
In addition to prenatal classes, Amanda facilitates professional development workshops for other doulas, midwives and nurses in Toronto. She is a contributor to the publication "Bearing Witness: Childbirth stories told by doulas" and is regularly invited to give lectures on doula care and birth support for the Ryerson Midwifery Program and the Humber College Nursing Program. Her articles are currently included in course readings for the Toronto Naturopathic School of Medine and she's been featured as a birth expert on CBC radio, Today's Parent Magazine, Canadian Parent and BabyontheWay.com.
Her blog, TheNestingPlace.blog.com regularly publishes articles and information about pregnancy, birth and parenting topics that consider the range of experiences and emotions that arise during the transition to parenthood, and she can BRING IT at karaoke in her off call time if you care to challenge her :)
Birth Doula since 2010
Areas Serviced: GTA, East Toronto, West Toronto, North York
Special Training: DONA, Rebozo, Infant Massage, Hypnobirthing, Adult and Infant CPR, Speaks French and Spanish as a second language
Dina’s own pregnancy and birth were what inspired her to become a doula. Having experienced the profound value of well-trained, calm and loving support around her while she gave birth, Dina brings particular attentiveness and grounding to all of her clients so that they too may feel supported, at peace and connected to each other during their own experience.
Her background in mentorship, crisis management and community development has taken her around the world, including Argentina and Paraguay, where she volunteered as a doula in local hospitals. It was here that Dina gained incredible perspective on how powerful our culture’s relationship to birth influences the way that parents’ feel about their birth experience.
Dina brings all of her skill and experience together to offer parents a variety of tools to draw on while they’re birthing including the rebozo technique, massage and hypnobirthing.
Postpartum doula since 2007
Areas Serviced: GTA, Downtown, East Toronto, West Toronto, Etobicoke
Special Training: DONA, Hypnobirthing, Acupressure, Breastfeeding Consultant
Carla is a mother to three boys. THREE! Though they’re all almost teenagers now, she still remembers each of their birth stories in detail, and it was from her experiences as a Mother with each of these little babies that she drew her inspiration to become a postpartum doula.
Some of the things she planned to do with her babies worked, but there was a lot of learning on the fly. Having had the experience of thinking that life with baby would look one way and discovering that reality was very different, Carla understands powerful need for empathy and understanding as you adjust to having a baby in your home. She also practices from the understanding that what might work for one baby may not work for another; baby care and doula support must be personalized to you, your baby and your unique circumstances.
Her non-judgemental support will allow you to care for your baby in the way that makes sense for your family, free of criticism or second-guessing. You will draw on the wealth of personal and professional knowledge she has to figure out what to try for feeding, sleeping, baby care and routines until you feel confident in yourself as a parent.
With the non-stop action that you can imagine is the home of a Mother with three boys, Carla’s recreational indulgence is reading. Though, she can’t tear herself away from birthing long! She tends to be most drawn to fiction about midwives and doulas!
Birth Doula since 2002
Areas Serviced: Toronto, North York, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Etobicoke
Special Training: DONA, Hypnobirthing, RMT, Infant Massage, Adult and Infant CPR
Kristi has been at this doula thing for a looong time! But if you ask her, she’ll never admit to having seen it all. Her humble demeanour has preserved a quiet appreciation for the unexpected in birth that comes through in her ability to understand the importance of this day for you, even as a seasoned doula.
Over the years, she’s developed a reputation for herself as one of the most well-respected doulas in the city and regularly receives recommendations from the doctors and midwives that she’s worked with.
The deliveries of her three children were paramount in her developing interest as a doula and still inform her understanding of how different and unique each delivery truly is.
She is in love with her family, and they with her. In her life outside of doula work, she loves to dance, especially with her kids and they all participate in a family dance recital in May every year.
Areas Serviced: GTA, East Toronto, West Toronto, Downtown, North York
Special Training: DONA, Birthing From Within, Rebozo, Acupressure Spanish as a second language
In her former life, Mary was a journalist and a women’s studies/polysci major who had the opportunity to interview aboriginal midwife Julie Wilson. In her conversation with Julie, Mary learned about the many ways that parents are under-supported both during their delivery and afterward; many times, parents didn’t even know that they needed any support until they were in the middle of their birthing experience.
This was enough for Mary (who already had a proclivity for family-centered politics), to focus her interests and study away from the theoretical world of academics and into the applied practice of doula care.
Mary is what you might call “the hungry caterpillar” of birth information. She has a strong motivation to keep her understanding of birth-related issues up to date and goes out of her way to research questions for her clients, read journal articles and has sought out continuing education opportunities with Dr. Jack Newman’s Breastfeeding Clinic and has honed her skill for supporting vulnerable populations with training through the Jessie’s Centre.
Her clients describe the calm approach she has to support as ‘contagious’ and relay that their family members and even hospital staff seem to slow down and be more at ease once Mary engages with them.
Postpartum Doula and Breastfeeding and Sleep Consultant Since 2012
Areas Serviced: North York, East York, Downtown
Special Training: La Leche Leage Leader, Breastfeeding Consultant, Sleep Consultant
Sheryl's journey to becoming a post partum doula began in 2008 with the birth of her first son. She was sleep-deprived and overwhelmed and found it nearly impossible to keep up with the demands of a newborn baby. She learned that it is essential to not only have doula support during the birth, but also during the post partum period.
As a post partum doula, Sheryl strives to care for both parents and assist the entire family in adjusting to life with a baby. She believes that every parent knows their baby best, and she provides support in a non-judgemental manner. Her goal is for new parents to feel empowered and confident and to enjoy the post partum period as much as possible.
While many of her clients draw on her for her extensive knowledge of feeding babies, you’ll also want to consider her for her amazing skill in the kitchen. Seriously. Sheryl’s creativity in the kitchen will leave you feeling inspired as well as nourished.
Birth and Postpartum doula and CBE Since 2011
Areas Serviced: GTA, West and East Toronto, Downtown, North York, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Missisauga, Markham, Scarborough
Special Training: DONA, Birthing From Within, Lamaze, Rebozo, Acupressure, Adult and Infant CPR, Breastfeeding 101 and 102, Baby Wearing 101, Speaks German as a second language
Alexandra comes to her work as a doula with a wealth of experience from her previous work history including working as a Nanny, managing a Toronto-based Midwifery Clinic and acting as a Political and Personal Advocate for a woman with quadriplegia.
From these experiences, Alex has developed an acute attentiveness to the emotional needs of her doula clients and an admirable ability to facilitate meaningful discussion between her clients and their health care team.
As a doula, Alex has assisted with natural birth, c-sections, home birth, hospital birth and twin deliveries. She often continues her care with her clients in postpartum to ensure that they have support until they feel confident in themselves to care for their families on their own. With Alex’s care, parents feel confident, capable, rested and best of all, feel more connected with each other as they get adjust to parenting together.
As a side note, Alex is an avid knitter, has made most of her own socks and will probably knit at your delivery too!
Birth and Postpartum doula and CBE Since 2012
Areas Serviced: GTA, West and East Toronto, Downtown, North York
Special Training: CD/PCD DONA, Birthing From Within, Acupressure for birth, Rebozo, Breastfeeding, Adult and Infant CPR
Jayne comes from a family of many nurses and health care workers. Growing up around these professionals gave her a deep love and respect for care-giving, and wonderful insight into communicating with compassion.
Her mother cared for both of her grandmothers and other unwell family members in their home, and in so doing, set a clear example of the positive ways in which you can work with someone who is in need of support. There was no patronizing, no fear, and no assumptions. Jayne loved watching her mother in these situations and would follow her around asking questions incessantly. Even when she was quite young, Jayne’s mother showed the utmost respect for her curiosity and was very patient with her interest. From witnessing her mother in this role, Jayne grew up to be a calm and non-judgemental person, even under the most stressful circumstances.
As a teenager, she refined her own ability to care for others when she began volunteering in an elderly care facility where she learned how powerful listening to people's stories could be. Jayne was teased by her peers for being so quiet and shy, but the people Jayne met while volunteering were grateful to have someone who would truly listen to them.
As your doula, Jayne will bring peace to your moments of worry, confidence to your moments of doubt, and care to those moments when you feel most vulnerable.
In the News
Global TV (July 4, 2014) The waiting room or the delivery room, where do dads want to be? Founder Amanda Spakowski and one of her clients is interviewed about partner preparation for childbirth.
CTV (July 22 2013) Amanda Spakowski was interviewed on CTV's morning news with Dan Matheson. Discussed the labour and delivery of Prince George while Duchess Kate Middleton was in early labour. One of the most exciting interviews of my life as I am a big fan of the Duchess of Cambridge. What an honour!!
Hotels.com (July 2013). Motherhood Ain't Easy. Here's how to simplify travel. It's not just wedding season, its baby season too! With the recent birth of North, Kim's little lady, and our beloved Duchess Kate about to pop, it won't be long before these jet-setting ladies are back on the road. Inspired by these famous babies, Hotels.com® has partnered with The Nesting Place to share travel tips for other new mommies looking to rack up some travel points.
Today's Parent (Feb 4 2013) Afraid of Giving Birth. It's normal to be a little afraid of giving birth, but there are ways of working through your biggest fears.
Babyontheway.com (Sept 2012) The Real Deal Behind the Colic Issue. In this short review, we'll go over how colic has been diagnosed, what new research tells us about this condition and soothing methods that have been shown to make a difference to your crying baby.
Babyontheway.com (May 2012) Infant Massage Nourishes Your Child Just as a Healthy Diet Does. Studies have shown that massaging your infant not only deepens the bond with your child, it also contributes to their emotional growth. The Nesting Place, a Toronto prenatal class and doula care
company, holds infant and baby massage classes regularly and has seen firsthand the benefits that both parents and their children experience through massage.
MyKawartha.com (Aug 2011) Prenatal Classes Expanded in Peterborough. The Nesting Place, a Toronto based company offering prenatal classes and doula care is expanding their services to Peterborough.
Having a Baby.com (July 2011) The Role of a Doula: An interview with Toronto doula Amanda Spakowski. I recently had the opportunity to interview Toronto doula Amanda Spakowski of The Nesting Place. We talked about the role of a doula and the importance of maternity care professionals working collaboratively as opposed to competitively. What follows are Amanda's comments.
Toronto Star (July 2011) Maternity-Care System on Brink of Collapse, Warns Physician. Physician Michael C. Klein has seen the future of childbirth and wants Canadian women to know they have an important role to play. But first, he has some bad news to get out of the way. "The maternity care system is going to collapse in the next 10 years or so," says the researcher and University of British Columbia professor emeritus.
Oh Baby! Magazine (April 2011) The Du-Du Swaddle. Nothing can soothe a baby quite like a swaddle can. But to get the most out of the technique the most important thing to remember is that it must be tight.
Toronto Star (March 2011) - Giving birth? There’s an app for that. The iBirth app isn’t intended to replace childbirth classes or other sources of childbirth information. Hanson and Nowlin — each of whom has three young children and know how crazy-busy life can get — — envisioned it as a refresher course for parents-to-be who had attended childbirth classes but were too busy to go through it all again or the two-out-of three expectant couples who don’t plan to attend childbirth classes but who would welcome a snapshot of what to expect during labour.
Canadian Living (Dec 2010) - The Doula Checklist: Finding the right support for your pregnancy. There is a natural process of what to do when someone is pregnant: Find the obstetrician or midwife, enroll in prenatal classes, start the birthing plan.
But how do pregnant couples find the emotional and psychological support to see them through this anxious time? A doula may be the answer.
Sex Matters (Nov 26th Part 3 and 4) - Sex during pregnancy and postpartum. Nesting Place birth/postpartum doula and Birthing From Within Educator shares her expertise on how sex changes with children and how couples can bring intimacy back into their lives while balancing the challenges of being parents.
Canadian Family (Oct 2010) - Gas Woes: The best ways to relieve your baby's discomfort. Your poor babe. She has a full rumbling belly and she's crying that cry that you know means she's uncomfortable, but otherwise seems well. These are just a few signs that she might be suffering from gas. So what can you do to ease her tummy?
The Star (2010) - The Mother of All Baby Columns: 6 Things You Need to Know about Giving Birth. Have strangers been tormenting you with gruesome tales about foot-long episiotomies and babies with heads the size of cantaloupes? Well, my very pregnant friend, this is your lucky day. There’s some good old-fashioned birthing wisdom coming your way from the contributors to a new anthology, Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas.
The Peterborough Examiner (2010) - Feature Letter to the Editor: We're not expecting this! It was my experience last week at a store in Peterborough, to be referred to as "humungous" by an employee. To be more specific, she looked at my now seven-month pregnant belly and said "Oh my GOD! You're humungous!"In my state of shock, anger and remorse for such a thoughtless and hurtful comment, I was left with no words to tell her just how harmful comments like this can be to women preparing to give birth.
Sweet Spot (March 2010) Empower Yourself. Study session! Prepare your body and mind for one of life’s biggest challenges at these fantastic prenatal programs.
CBC Radio Here and Now (2010) - Interview: Doula Speed DatingTM It's a big choice for some mothers-to-be --- should they give birth at home, or at the hospital? And if they opt for a midwife, should they hire a doula, too?
Chex TV Business Beat (2010) - The Nesting Place is a Toronto based prenatal and doula care service, but Sheena Howard (pictured right) is bringing the Prenatal classes to Peterborough starting this Wednesday (September 15)...
Parents Canada: Labour and Birth Guide (print edition July 2010) - A Helping Hand The birth of your child can be an exciting, yet scary experience. you may not know what to expect, what you'll feel, what's normal, or what's not normal. It can be reassuring to have a doula help you through the process....
The Star: The Mother of All Parenting Blogs (2010) - "Speed Dating to Find the Right Doula" Up until now, finding the right doula has required a lot of research and even more good luck. But, thanks to the brainchild of Toronto doula Amanda Spakowski, moms-to-be and their partners are now able to make contact with a large number of doulas by attending a single event
SNAP Downtown (2010) - "Doula Speed Dating" The support of a doula increases parents' satisfaction with their birth experience and reduces the likelihood of intervention.
Vitamin Daily (2010) - "Meet the Doula" Your husband almost fainted when you gashed your thumbs on a goldfish bowl—goodness knows what he’ll do in the delivery room.
Globe and Mail (2009) - "Speed Interviewing: On your marks, get set, hire!" Prof. Frost allowed that there could be some benefit to interviewing a slew of doulas face-to-face: Such intimate professions demand chemistry, which often takes only a few minutes to gauge.
CBC Metro Morning (2009) - "Doula Speed Dating" The [speed dating] concept is now being used for pregnant women to pick their doula, or birthing coach. Karen headed out with her microphone to find out how it all works.
Metro Toronto (2009) - "Yes, yes, oh baby, yes"
SNAP Bloor West (2009) - "Celebrating International Doula Month" May was International Doula Month, and what better way to celebrate than a free event for prenatal and postnatal health hosted by trained doulas.