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Guelph woman calls for fraud training in doula programs after falling victim to province-wide doula fraud


Courtney Heywood feels she was meant to be a doula.

“I loved having a doula with my son’s birth so much that I just felt a calling to birth work,” said Heywood, who works as a doula in Guelph.

While doulas are not regulated in Canada, those like Heywood can get certified by a training organization.

She took two workshops that were each 10 hours as the foundation to begin working as a doula.

Heywood described the courses as hard core, and felt they left her with all the information she needed to start offering doula services.

“People can hire us to support them, usually during pregnancy, [to] support them during their birth, their labor and support them afterwards as well after they bring their baby home,” she said.

One of those people that Heywood says hired her for support was Kaitlyn Braun, a woman from Brantford who has since been charged with dozens of criminal charges, including harassment, fraud, and sexual assault after police say she sought the help of doulas for pregnancies and stillbirths that turned out to be fake.

Heywood said she received a message from Braun about a pregnancy from a sexual assault.

Heywood connected with her first through a phone call – a process she uses to identify potential red flags.

Heywood said it felt normal and natural.

She said she even received an ultrasound photo from Braun.

The story Braun was telling her started to unravel, and she became suspicious when the development of Braun’s pregnancy became too outrageous to believe.

Heywood took to Facebook to share part of her experience, where she was met with comments from other doulas telling her she had been tricked.

“It’s horrible. It’s a terrible feeling. It’s a weight on my shoulder,” said Heywood. “It’s on my mind from the time I wake up and when I go to bed.”

Brantford police say there are at least ten alleged victims across Ontario, and they expect there will be more.

Heywood said she would like to see more emphasis on doula protection from fraud during training.

“It’s important as a way of healing for us and sharing our story with other doulas so we can hopefully stop it from happening again,” Heywood said.

Stefanie Antunes, a birth doula trainer at Dona International, has taught in the field for two decades and says Braun’s situation is so unique it’s difficult to implement training that could help other doulas, but it's brought a lot of awareness about being cautious.

“One of the really important aspects of doula training is learning about how to do a consultation with a client,” said Antunes.

Adding: “Even people who are going through all the steps of looking out for things that’s not a good fit for them, this situation passed a lot of tests for a lot of people and were still impacted.”

As for Braun, she is facing over two dozen charges in connection to the investigation.

She will be appearing in a Brantford court for a bail hearing on Friday.


An earlier version of this article said the doula wanted industry regulations. In fact, she was calling for more learning of fraud in doula training programs. This has been corrected. Top Stories

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