--By Rachel Brinker, MA
CD Postpartum (ProDoula)
Today I completed the final requirement and received word from ProDoula, my doula organization, that I am now a CERTIFIED postpartum doula. This is something I've been working toward for over 15 months and it feels good to have accomplished my goal!
Many people attend doula trainings and use the knowledge they gain from those in-person training to do great work supporting women and families. Some people attend a doula training and have no intention of pursuing certification. They just want the knowledge from the training so they can help support friends and family, and are happy to stop there. There are others who begin the certification process but never complete the requirements for one reason or another, but continue to work professionally as a doula. Completing the entire certification process, and maintaining that certification over the years, indicates a certain level of professionalism, commitment, and expertise. Families who want the best of the best will look for doulas who are current and active members of a doula organization and who are actively completing and/or maintaining their certification requirements.
At Proud Mama Support Services, all our doulas are actively working on their certification and will have completed all the requirements within a year of joining our team.
All our doulas are pursuing certification through either ProDoula or DONA International.
What does certification entail? Here's a brief summary:
Besides the knowledge and competency gained through certification, families also benefit when their doulas are certified through an organization that has a clear grievance procedure. Having a grievance policy in place gives families, as well as anyone else, a path for recourse should a doula fail to meet the standards of professionalism and code of ethics laid out by his or her certifying organization.
I am proud to be certified with ProDoula, and am continuing to also work on my DONA certification as well. It's just one of the ways Proud Mama Support Services delivers on our mission to provide top-quality care to families as they transition to life with a newborn.
In honor of Father's Day coming up this Sunday, I planned to write a blog about how postpartum doulas benefit dads:
About how we are explicit that our services are "mother-centered," but that doesn't mean that our support excludes dads.
About the research that shows that women who feel supported by their partners have greater success with breastfeeding, and that we help dads when they "don't know what to do" to find meaningful ways of showing their support to their nursing partners.
About how we can ease fears and anxieties that dads often have when their parental leave runs out and they return to work. It can really make a big difference in those transitional moments to know that your postpartum doula will be a steady and helpful presence as everyone adjusts to work life with a new baby.
About how having a postpartum doula can create space and time for dads and their partners to have some face-to-face time to have an adult conversation, or time for dads to spend much-needed quality time with older siblings.
Then the shooting at Pulse in #Orlando happened.
I write this post with a heavy heart and through a lot of tears. I write this post for gay dads, trans dads, and people in the LGBTQ community who become parents but don't fit into either "Mom" or "Dad" category.
"Mother-centered postpartum family care" is our tagline. Proud Mama is our name. Explicit support of women during the postpartum transition is important to us because we know that 1 in 7 women suffer from maternal mental illness like postpartum depression and anxiety, and only 15% of those women will receive help during their struggle with mental health. Postpartum support of women is an important service to provide, and we are proud to serve women in all kinds of families.
As explicit as we are in our support of birthing women and heterosexual couples, we want to be equally as explicit in our support of parents and families that don't fit the heteronormative picture of what family life with a new baby looks like.
You belong here. We are here to serve you through your family's transition, whatever that looks like, and however it is that you become the parent of a newborn.
Happy Father's Day to all of you who identify as "Dad," "Baba," "Papa," and every other name kiddos use to say that you belong to them and they belong to you. Love is what makes a family, and we will always support you.
--by Rachael Sudhalter
"Don't worry, about a thing. Cause every little thing, gonna be alright."
This phrase was sung over and over at our house ever since our son was born. I don't know if it was to calm him--or us--down at 2 am after being awake for who knows how long. This song became our mantra, our life boat and eventually, we believed it.
At the time, we knew of birth doulas, but thought that we had that covered. After all, we went to the birthing class the hospital provided. We also took a "caring for your baby" class through the hospital, too. My mother-in-law is a nurse, my father-in-law was a great food preparer, and my best friend was near by. We had a support system in place.
That was seven years ago. The other day, I asked my husband if knowing what he knows now, would he have hired a birth and a postpartum doula.
Immediately, he said "YES!" There are things your family can provide that a doula can't, and there are things that a doula can provide that your family can't.
When you are running on no sleep, having a person around to sing Bob Marley to you at 2 am as she tucks you in bed with a cup of tea is worth every penny.