Advocacy, burnout, self care, sustainability, and the patriarchy–they’re all in this episode! Our guest is Nickie Tilsner, the co-executive director and lead trainer of Cornerstone Doula Trainings, and co-author of RE:BIRTH – The childbirth preparation guide for all people to have an informed, dignified and joyful birth in any setting (due for release early Fall). Also announcing a first-ever collaboration between Birth Monopoly and a doula training organization to offer rights training to new doulas!!! The “Rights Informed Birth Advocate” certification will be offered through Cornerstone starting July 2019.

In her words

In order to thrive in the work and have sustainability: feeding your purpose is what really holds resilience and what is actually being trauma informed for yourself and looking at things through a strengths based lens. And feeding your purpose is knowing that you’re effective in the work and being able to really embody the work. And in think that’s what’s going to keep people really going in this and feeling great about the work they’re doing and enjoying it.

I burnt out about three years into my practice when I first started and had to take a break and came back with a new way of looking at things. I’m still learning what being trauma informed for myself means.

Doulas and birth workers and anyone else in this space need to understand, your brain cannot discern whether this is happening to someone else or if it’s happening to you, when you’re in the situation. And even when you hear traumatic stories, your brain goes into a trauma response. This vicarious trauma is real.

I want this to be a part of every dialogue when it comes to birth and birth work… Number one, how we view advocacy as birth workers, number two, how we view ourselves as less powerful than other people in the room, number three, how we are silent and how our silence is complicity.


Cornerstone’s next labor and birth doula training, including the “Rights Informed Birth Advocate” certification in collaboration with Birth Monopoly (!!), starts July 12 in Oakland, CA: More to come after that!

Know Your Rights:

Contact us at if you’d like your organization to offer Know Your Rights training, too!