Meet Jenn Fontaine – doula extraordinaire


Jenn FontaineFrom September 11-14, birthwell birthright is very excited to be hosting one of Canada’s leading DONA International birth doula trainers, Jenn Fontaine. Jenn took a few moments out of her crazy schedule (she’s a mum of 4, a busy childbirth educator, doula and doula trainer!) to have a chat with us about her upcoming visit to Australia. 

Jenn, we are so excited to have you come to Australia in September! Is this your first visit? What are you looking forward to most?

I am so excited, I can’t even begin to tell you all! This will be my first time in Australia and I am most looking forward to the sights. Every picture I’ve ever seen from buildings, to flowers looks so beautiful.

Can you tell us a bit about you?

I live in a part of Canada called Manitoba and I am married to an amazing man. We met young, got engaged two months later, married 10 months later and then had twins the next year! We now have four incredible kids.  Twin boys who are 18 and just graduated high school, a son who is 14 and a daughter who is 12. This makes me a chauffeur, a cook, a maid and a teacher all in one 🙂 I teach Lamaze childbirth classes, am a birth doula and a birth doula trainer. I absolutely love to teach. I am also somewhat addicted to coffee (perhaps this is not surprising!)

What led you to become a doula and a birth educator?

After the birth of my twins, I spent a lot of time processing the experience. It was quite traumatic for me.  When I was pregnant with my middle son a friend recommend that I hire a doula. At that time I didn’t know what a doula was! We met with a doula and hired her. It was such an empowering, transformative experience that as soon as he was born I signed up for a doula training! Teaching childbirth classes was a natural progression for me as I loved to teach and talk about birth. I am certified through Lamaze and HypnoBirthing.

While DONA International has a lot of recognition overseas, it is less well-known in Australia. Can you tell us a bit about DONA and particularly why you love being a DONA doula and doula trainer?

I was actually a doula with three different organisations for a bit before falling in love with DONA International. You can read about DONA’s history here. But I’ll tell you what made me choose DONA.

  1. The clear support for women. They are about supporting women whatever her needs are. It is not about trying to change her wishes or convince her of anything. It is 100% supporting her with no judgement. I love this and believe women today need this.
  2. The professionalism. DONA International cares about current research. They care about getting back to people and answering questions. I see the leaders speak with kindness and integrity about women, caregivers and other organisations. The code of conduct and standards of practice are core to DONA International. They have high standards and clients/caregivers can clearly know what to expect with a DONA doula! This stands out to me as outstanding.
  3. The clear support for their members. I know that a question will be answered when I email or call. I know they hear the needs of the members and are always working to make things better and keep up “with the times.” I feel heard by DONA International.
  4. The fact that it is International! Not just meaning they have doulas in other countries, but that they are actively supporting doulas around the world. They have a Multicultural Director who helps make sure all women are getting the support they deserve. They also care about non-traditional families! This is something that is important to me.
  5. The leadership! Every single one of the founders is amazing. Every single founder has done so much to advance doulas, women, babies and families. I am in awe every time I read something by them or hear them speak. This shows me a solid, long lasting foundation.

Have you ever had a man interested in the DONA training? How would you react if a guy contacted you wanting to do the training?

Yes! I have had a couple men throughout the years in a DONA training. They are very welcome and can offer so many insights. Men can be amazing supportive, nurturing birth support  people!

IMG_9593What can women interested in the DONA training expect to learn?

About birth. The physical aspects, the emotional ranges, what is happening.

About interventions. When are they used? How are they used?

About breastfeeding. How? Why?

About support. How can we support women with all kinds of births. How to support a family who is having a caesarean, who is having pain meds, who is not having pain meds. Non-judgemental support.
Active listening. How can we practice active listening so we can best support our clients.

About their own bias.

About where women learn about birth.

About business aspects. How to find clients, what to charge, how to keep paperwork and all that stuff.

About DONA International and what they can offer you.

Can you explain a bit more about the process of certification with DONA International?

  1. Attend a DONA-approved Birth Doula Workshop
  2. Purchase a DONA International Birth Doula Certification Packet
  3. Read and sign the following documents:

o DONA International Birth Doula Code of Ethics

o DONA International Birth Doula Standards of Practice

  1. Complete the required reading from the Birth Doula Required Reading List.
  2. Fulfill a Breastfeeding Requirement
  3. View one (1) DONA International webinar with a business theme to satisfy this requirement.
  4. Childbirth Education Requirement *** As a bonus this is included in your training! ***
  5. Develop a list of at least forty-five (45) local/area resources in at least thirty (30) different categories.
  6. Provide birth doula labour support to several clients and their families. Choose three (3) support experiences for certification.
  7. Become a member with DONA International (This can be done at any time before paperwork is completed)
  8. Pay certification application fee.

FYI: We have put together a comprehensive DONA certification guide which you can download by clicking here

doulaWho is the training aimed at? Do you require a background as a birth professional?

This training is really for everyone and anyone! Want to understand birth more? It’s for you! Want to support a friend or family member who is pregnant? It’s for you! Want to change career paths? It’s for you!

I have had 16 year olds who have no prior knowledge take the training and I’ve had an OB-GYN take the training. It does not matter if you have had children of your own. Young and young at heart – all are welcome!

What sort of follow-up and support is available to students after the training?

This is very important to me. Nothing is worse than taking a training and having no follow-up! Thankfully technology is amazing. I am, course am available by email anytime, but am planning on Skype sessions to make sure everyone is getting their needs met. Two weeks after the training, a month later and each month as needed.


Finally – a very important question. Have you heard of Vegemite and if so, are you game to try it while you’re here?

I’m game! lol!

To learn more about the DONA International Birth Doula Training in Melbourne from September 11 – 14, please click here. Register before August 1st and you’ll be able to take advantage of our early bird discount! Click here to register.