Welcome to MBC Doula School

Active Listening

Hello!! I am so happy to meet you here and I hope that we can meet soon in person.

Why MBC? What is MBC Doula School?

In a nutshell, MBC Doula School was created out of a need for trained doulas who would be willing to volunteer for Montreal Birth Companions, which is a volunteer organization that provides free doula services and resources to needy clients.

MBC Doula School prepares students to work as holistic doulas. It is a unique and comprehensive program that offers classroom learning, hands-on experience and mentorship. Students are given the opportunity to shadow an experienced doula through a doula care experience, and then to volunteer their services, while being mentored. The program is based on the belief that hands-on experience is the best teacher, but that all students need a mentor or a guide. I believe in the value of self-directed learning and self-exploration. The doula skills that are taught are skills that can be applied to all caring professions, including midwifery, medicine, alternative practitioners, and of course doulas.

MBC Doula School teaches a holistic approach to doula care. We believe that the healer is only a guide; that a person during the childbearing year is a whole person; that all modalities can be effective and useful, including allopathic ones, if they are used appropriately.

Who are we?

I am Rivka Cymbalist, the director of MBC Doula School.  I have been working as a birth attendant since 1997 as a certified DONA doula and a CPM. In 2003 I created Montreal Birth Companions, a grassroots organization that serves over 100 families per year. Since 2003, I have also been training doulas. I am passionate about midwifery care and committed to lifelong education.

Guest teachers for MBC Doula School come here from all over the world: Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Elena Skoko, Robin Lim, Julie Bonapace, Jodi Hall are among the more well known ones, and Sarah Armstrong, Basia Klincewisz, Sara Liba Vann, and Svea Block, among others, are homegrown talents. If you are interested in providing a class at MBC Doula School, please let me know!

Doula Care Level Two Update!


Doula Care Two starts on January 14, 2016 and will end on March 31, 2016. Classes take place every Thursday evening from 6pm to 10 pm.The cost is $500.

For registration, please visit here.

Doula Care Level Two allows the student to complete the MBC Doula School Diploma program. This program gives students the knowledge and confidence to run a private holistic doula practice. The program is comprised of 80 hours. The graduate will be able to offer complementary techniques to the client throughout the childbearing year that will maintain healthy and satisfying pregnancy; reduce labor pain and the request for pharmaceutical pain relief; assist in breastfeeding. The diploma graduate will also be able to assess challenges and make suggestions or refer to alternative practitioners.
Prerequisite: MBC Doula School Certificate or equivalent doula training.
This program is comprised of three modules, comprising 48 hours of class time and 32 hours practical. The first course provides the student with an understanding of the basic challenges during the childbearing year: pregnancy, labor and postpartum difficulties that the mother may encounter. The student will also review the medical interventions that were presented in the Level One course, with a focus on prevention. The diagnostic techniques used by physicians and midwives will be presented to the students, so that their understanding of these techniques can be explained to their clients. Diagnostic techniques used by the doula, which are low-tech and hands-on, will be studied and practiced extensively. The final portion of this course is an introduction and overview of the healing modalities that may be used by a holistic doula. The second course gives the student a comprehensive understanding of the healing modalities used throughout the childbearing year, from pre-conception to postpartum. These modalities can be used preventatively or curatively. During the course there will be opportunities for the students to formulate healing strategies for their clients, as well as discussions of the advantages and disadvantages of the different modalities in various situations. Finally, there is a practical module. During this module, the student will have the opportunity to shadow an experienced doula throughout the care of a client. When the shadow experience is completed, the student will provide primary doula care for her own client, with a mentor present or available. These experiences must be evaluated by the client or by the mentor doula, and extensive notes must be taken for evaluation. For registration, please visit here.

Jodi Hall and A Safe Passage: Sept. 19-20


Jodi Hall is coming to Montreal September 19-20, 2015  to present A Safe Passage workshop.

A Safe Passage is an Advanced Practitioner Training program designed to help caregivers gain an understanding of the special needs of women survivors of abuse and learn the skills needed to support them through their pregnancy, labour & childbirth and the early postpartum period. This workshop is delivered from a strengths-based prospective, and honours the strength, courage and resilience of women survivors of abuse. This workshop has been approved for 11 LAMAZE contact hours (which DONA recognizes).

Caregivers who would benefit from this training include doulas, midwives, nurses, social workers, and other health and social services professionals caring for women during the transition to mothering.

Jodi Hall has worked with women through the childbearing year since 1996 and has been employed as a full-time counsellor working with abused women and their children since 2002.

This workshop will comprise one component of the MBC Doula School certification program.

The workshop will take place at 1002 Van Horne, Montreal.

The price for this two day workshop is $250 for the public and $200 for MBC members or students. To register, please visit our registration page here.

As always, flexible payment plans are available and one scholarship will be offered.

Introduction to CranioSacral Therapy


Craniosacral therapy is an extremely light touch modality that activates a person’s own resources to progress emotionally, physically and psychologically. This therapy is ideal for pregnant and birthing moms and their babies because it is gentle, calming and efficient. This course introduces the student to the main techniques and concepts of the therapy.

When? February 1, 2015, 10 am to 1 pm

Who? This course is for anyone who is interested in Craniosacral therapy. It is an introduction to the modality and will prepare students to learn more about this gentle, effective and versatile technique.

How? The cost for this introduction is $50. To register, please click here.

Breastfeeding 101


This course is being offered as an introduction to breastfeeding support for beginner doulas. It is a six hour course that will stretch over two sessions, each of three hours. The time between the classes is designed to allow the student to have some hands-on experience during the course.

When? February 8 and March 1, 2015, from 10am to 1pm

Where? 6444 rue Lescarbot, Montreal

Who? This course is an important introduction to breastfeeding for Level One students, or anyone who is interested in learning about breastfeeding from an expert. It is taught by Basia Klincewicz, who is an experienced lactation consultant, massage therapist, and Birth Keeper.

How? Register here The cost is $50.00 for MBC students or doulas and $75.00 for others.

Topics covered in this course will be:

1. Overview of Benefits
2. Anatomy / Physiology
3. Components Of Breastmilk
4. Understanding Obstacles
5. Problem Solving
6. Needs For Referral To Specialist
7. Benefits Of Being A Breastmilk Promoter

About the teacher:

Basia is dedicated to bringing compassion and understanding to our human experience. The tools she uses
stretch from birth work and nutrition, conscious breathing and massage, as well as being present at end of life.
Since the mid 80’s till today, she has been trained and practiced, in midwifery, lactation consulting, breathing and massage techniques. Her main interests are to share and educate about what experience has taught and to bring joy and assistance where needed!

Caffe della Pace

MBC Doula School is going home!! We will be sharing a space with the new Caffe della Pace!

We are signing the lease next week, and starting building in mid-December. Opening in February…

Here is the dream:

To provide a meeting place where women, their friends, and their babies can spend time together. We offer educational opportunities, healthy vegetarian food, workshops and events, support and resources. Our goal is an affordable, accessible space, where our customers will feel like they are “coming home”.
Young families, pregnant women, women and babies, doulas and educators, volunteers and their clients … everyone!!
A meeting place for everyone who is interested in birth and babies, healthy food, a warm atmosphere
Central location, easily accessible by public transport, parking
Women and babies can be isolated and alone in the winter here in Montreal. Doulas and educators search often in vain to find a space to offer their classes and to meet with their clients. Resources and support is available but hard to find. Books on childbirth and parenting; nutritional food; a space where mothers can meet; doula classes … all of these activities should be happening under one roof.
We are opening a gathering place where everyone can come together: we offer tea and coffee, excellent vegetarian food, education and workshops, resources and support groups, doula training and meeting space. We can provide the community with a venue that is available for events, with or without chef services. This space will be accessible to all: affordable, baby-friendly, with a sliding scale in place for workshops and events.

If you’re interested in being part of the Caffe della Pace, let us know! We are running a campaign now to help with startup costs: have a look here.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy for Birth Keepers

Craniosacral therapy is an extremely light touch modality that activates a person’s own resources to progress emotionally, physically and psychologically. This therapy is ideal for pregnant and birthing moms and their babies because it is gentle, calming and efficient.


Sara Vann trained in Craniosacral Therapy (CST) with Andrea Axt at  Craniosacral and Polarity Associates of Montreal. Since then she has been developing her practice and teaching individuals and groups both toward certification and for personal use. She works with women during the childbearing year, as well as with babies, children and seniors.

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn the basics of a gentle technique that can be effectively used for pregnant, birthing and postpartum mothers.

The cost for Level One is $75.00. This course will be held when we reach our minimum of ten students. To register, visit here.

Course Outline:

Level 1 (2 days)

Theory behind CST

Finding the 3 CST Rhythms – primary, mid-tide and long tide


Level 2 (2 days)

Specific applications for pregnant women

Review of Tides

Cranial work – releasing occiput and sphenoid bones

Sacral work – releasing lumbar vertebrae, sacrum and perineal floor

Foot and hand work – Metamorphic technique


Level 3 (1 day)

Specific application for babies

Postpartum craniosacral check up

Butterfly touch massage

Active Listening Workshop

Active Listening
Here Rivka is listening to what this newborn has to say!

Doulas (and people in general) need to be good listeners, and listening is a skill that many of us are not so good at. Why is this? The art of conversation is being lost, and with it goes the art of listening. Really listening, so that you can hear what the other is saying, and not jump to conclusions nor simply tell your own story: this is what the Birth Keeper needs to be able to do.

Guest teacher Kota Harbron will be facilitating a workshop on Active Listening on November 23 at 2pm.

Kota Harbron is a facilitator, support-person and aspiring future body-worker with many years’ experience in community-based peer counselling and popular education. They have been involved in facilitation and community organizing work since 2006 – primarily working with high school students, queer and trans youth and survivors of sexual violence. She has been offering active listening workshops to community organizations in Montreal for about five years.

The cost for this workshop is twenty-five dollars: please register here. We will need ten students to run the course.

Listening as a Radical Political Act

Participants in this workshop are invited to reflect personally and collectively on what it means to listen, what it means to be heard. Together, we will review some of the key components of active listening, while considering its origins as well as its many strengths and limitations. In this workshop, participants’ valuable knowledge and experience is called on as we reflect together on the transformative possibilities of listening. You can expect rich discussion, skillsharing and lots of practice opportunities through role-playing and scenarios.

Introduction to Prenatal Yoga for Birth Keepers

Are you interested in learning more about prenatal yoga? Which postures are great for a pregnant body, breathing techniques which are calming through a long labour or ideas for meditations which can be used in preparation for childbirth? Or maybe you`re curious about how you can incorporate prenatal yoga in your doula practice?

If so, this may be the workshop for you.

Sarah Armstrong

Sarah started practising yoga in 2000 while living in Rwanda, and pre-natal yoga in 2007 when pregnant with her third child. Since then, her practice has deepened and she was inspired to take a 200 hour hatha yoga teacher training course (inspired by the Kripalu tradition) with Kelly McGrath when she returned to Montreal in 2011. Through her personal birth experiences and her doula work, she realized that pre and post-natal are the areas of yoga that interest her most, and in 2013, while pregnant with her fifth child she completed Janice Clarfield`s pre-natal yoga teacher training for a conscious and sacred birth.

This class will present Sarah’s basic introduction to prenatal yoga and doula work.

Length of session: 3 hours

The first part of the workshop will take the form of a prenatal yoga class so the participants can really feel in their body the benefits of the postures and will incorporate gentle warm-ups, standing poses, hip and pelvic openers, pelvic floor exercises, vocal toning, breath work and meditation techniques which can be helpful in the pregnant body and in preparation for birth. The rest of the workshop will incorporate a question and answer period and some ideas about how to integrate yoga into your doula practice. Handouts will be provided.

This workshop will take place on December 1, 2014 from 6pm to 9pm, at 6444, rue Lescarbot, Montréal, QC H1M 1M7.

The cost for the workshop is $75 for the public and $50 for MBC doulas or students. As always, scholarships are available on a first-come basis.

To register, please visit here.

This workshop in no way qualifies you to teach yoga (pre-natal or otherwise) nor certifies you as a doula! Workshop attendance can be counted towards the MBC Doula School 400 hour certification program.