Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Doula Certification: Info for Consumers

What is the difference between someone who is trained as a doula and someone who is certified?

In my experience with DONA, not a whole lot. To become certified through DONA, I had to check book titles off of a reading list, attend a childbirth class and a breastfeeding class (very basic, geared to consumers) write a couple of essays and get evaluations filled out from births I'd attended. In other words, one could be DONA-Certified and still not be knowledgeable about birth or well connected with local resources. (This is not to say that there aren't many wonderful certified DONA doulas. I am one and I work with a bunch of them).

The whole list of what I had to do to become DONA certified was:
  • Pay for DONA membership
  • Pay the certification application processing fee
  • Fill out the application
  • Read The Birth Doula's Contribution to Modern Maternity Care; The Doula Book; The Birth Partner; Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn; Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers
  • Attend a childbirth class (where I wasn't a pregnant participant)
  • Complete the course at
  • Attend a DONA birth doula workshop
  • Attend three births and submit three evaluations from mothers, three from caregivers, an essay about each one, DONA Birth Record sheets for each one
  • A resource list with resources from 30 different categories
  • Write an essay on the value of labor support
  • Sign Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
  • Take multiple choice quiz
Some of the other doula organizations do have more requirements for certification. CAPPA, for example, requires that you complete a study guide before attending their training. You can see the study guide at With BirthWorks, one has to write a book report about each book on the reading list and submit it for review.

In the Doula Connection in Syracuse, the group I work with, all of our doulas have taken doula training. Some have chosen to be certified through an organziation and some haven't or are in the process of doing so. I do not think that the ladies who are certified are better doulas than the ones who aren't

What I would recommend looking for when you select a doula is someone who you "click" with, who you would feel comfortable being supported by in labor. You might also want someone who is well connected in the local birth communty. If you need a referral for a midwife or a chiropractor, it's better when the doula can recommend someone that she's seen in action. A wide knowledge base is another strength. If you call you doula from a prenatal appointment with your caregiver with a question about something they said, you want your doula to know enough "medical-ese" to translate it into English for you.

If the doula who you're considering is someone who is "into" birth and she has attended a doula training, I wouldn't hesitate to use her because she isn't certified. I would also not recommend asking "certifying" doulas if you can pay them less than you would have paid a certified doula. Many doulas, both trained and certified, are willing to work with families in need who want doula support. For those families who are able to pay (and there are lots of ways to work it into your budget), a trained doula is providing you with the same service as a certified doula and deserves to be paid accordingly.

- Elizabeth Baer, CD(DONA)

1 comment:

  1. Looks amazing!!!! /I look forward to your feedback /thanks for this man it was very helpful.
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