I want to take a moment to outline the process I'm going through for certification with DONA International. Most people probably have no idea what it takes to get certified as a postpartum doula.
There's nothing that says doula have to get certified, and lots of experience can certainly lend a lot of credibility to someone's professional work. Not all doulas feel that certification is an important step in being a professional caregiver. But I do think it's important, so I want to share with you what it's all about.
DONA International has been around for a long time, and has always believed that actual research on the role of the doula is essential. They've been instrumental in producing some major findings that show continuous care through labor can dramatically improve outcomes for mom and baby, and that proper social and emotional support in the postpartum period has a preventative effect against postpartum depression and increases the success of breastfeeding. (Read DONA's position papers below!)
I respect DONA as an organization because I think their professional standards are very high, and I have a thing about integrity. So here's what I've been working on to become certified as a postpartum doula:
1. Be a professional member of DONA and adhere to their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
2. Complete a 3-hour breastfeeding class, an online lactation study program, or training as a breastfeeding counselor or other lactation professional.
3. Attend 27 hours or more of in-person postpartum doula training.
4. Complete an entire reading list of books on the following topics:
6. Submit at least three good evaluations from the partner, spouse, or other significant adult support person of the mothers from #5.
7. Write a 300-500 word account for each certifying postpartum experience.
8. Signed confidentiality release forms from all clients whose information is being used for certification.
9. A 500-1,000 word essay on "The Value of Postpartum Support"
10. Develop a resource list of at least 45 local resources for clients from at least 30 different categories such as:
12. Provide two professional character references.
13. Current Adult and Infant CPR certification
When you are deciding on who you'll hire as a doula, consider whether a formal certification process is an important piece for you. Lots of people can be caring and comforting, but not everyone has the same level of skill, training, and education. You and your baby deserve the best, and I look forward to serving you with the integrity, education, and code of ethics that comes with formal certification.