The 19th Annual UDA Spring Conference

One of the things I love so much about the Utah Doula Association is the annual conference that is put on every spring. The first time I attended was three years ago and as a brand spanking new doula I felt a little awkward and out of place being surrounded by so many experienced and seasoned doulas. Everyone knew each other and had been doula-ing a lot longer than me. But the information I received was and continues to be amazing!

The UDA recently had their conference on April 8, 2017. It was a rainy soggy day but upon entering the room you could feel the energy and excitement from everyone there; they weren’t going to let a little rain dampen their spirits.

After some mingling and a lovely catered breakfast from Blue Lemon, UDA founder Kristi Ridd-Young took the stage to welcome us all the 19th annual UDA Spring Conference. She started out with a well-known quote from Maya Angelou, my favorite part of it being:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I feel that is so applicable to doulas. What mother after 36 hours of labor will remember every loving and kind word their doula spoke to them? None. But what they will remember is their doula comforting them and making them feel safe and loved. The doulas in the UDA not only treat their clients this way, but each other as well. They doula each other through hard times in life, always reminding one another that they have a village, they have a family, they have help. Kristi made clear that this is a unique group of women in Utah with the UDA. Not every doula group has this kind of compassion and love for one another.

In other states where doula groups exist there is backbiting and competition. There is gossip and negative speech. There is not acceptance and love the way it is here in Utah. The mentorship that comes from the UDA to newer doulas is outstanding. It is recognized that doula work is hard; emotionally, mentally and physically, and in order for doulas to continue in this work they will need support and continuing education. The UDA vision statement addresses these needs and more:

“The Utah Doula Association provides continuing education, community support and marketing to doulas. We strive to elevate the role of a doula through professional relationships, community awareness, and provide volunteer opportunities to support at-risk, low-income, and underserved families in our community.”

The day was filled with wonderful presentations, ranging from Mindfulness and Meditation for the Perinatal Period to round-table discussions led by more experienced doulas on topics such as: How to get partners involved, how to build relationships with providers, and pre/postnatal nutrition. There was a lively and spirited presentation by Dr. Krisina Stitcher on, “The Effect of Stressors on the Newborn.” Dr. Stitcher is a wonderful chiropractor with Family First Chiropractic and Wellness where she specializes in prenatal chiropractic work as well as care for newborns and young children.

We learned from Terah Jones and her husband about how to support families who have unexpected outcomes with childbirth. This information was invaluable to learn as a doula and it’s something everyone, despite your profession, can benefit from. Saying things like, “Your baby is beautiful and perfect” can be far more helpful than saying “I’m sorry.” Planning ahead for unplanned outcomes can be uncomfortable but it can really make a difference.

Everyone was excited for Dr. Jed Vandenberghe and his presentation, “A Holistic Approach to Autism.” While he admitted there is still no direct known cause for autism he did emphasize pregnant women should remove soy from their diets and eat only organic/non-GMO corn, wheat and oats. He recommends children under 2 eat only organic/non-GMO corn, wheat, and oats as well. He also strongly suggested not using Roundup in your yard or garden. While correlation does not equal causation there is a strong correlation between the use of Roundup and increase in autism. Despite Tylenol being used regularly after vaccines Dr. Vandenberghe discourages this common practice. Maintain a healthy micro biome by avoiding antibiotics unless necessary and always follow with a good probiotic.

I know I am not alone when I say I am so grateful for all the hard work, time, and effort everyone put into the conference. The Utah Doula Association is dedicated to mentoring and educating its members all while creating a community of support and love. If you have been on the fence about joining the UDA I highly suggest you take the plunge and do it. The Spring Conference is just one of many opportunities provided to help navigate the birth profession. You won’t regret it!


Melissa Olson                                                                                                                                                                   Birth Doula                                                                                                                                                            Bundles of Joy Doula Services