Training to be a doula is one thing. Completing certification to become a Certified Doula is a whole other ballgame.
There is no state or national governing body for doulas, so the choice to become certified is purely optional.
So what’s the point of certification then?
It is a process to gauge commitment.
A journey to gain knowledge.
A choice to allow accountability.
It is a drive to be set apart.
Now, I’m not saying that those who aren’t certified are not committed or knowledgeable. I know many amazing doulas who are not certified. Some which I admire and look up too. However, in my opinion, choosing to undergo the certification process shows a different level of commitment, and accountability, that families benefit from.
What is the certification process?
As I mentioned before there is no state or federal governing body to certify, so there is a rage of private organisations that certify doulas. Every one of those has a slightly different process and membership values. That is why it is so important to do your homework when choosing who to train and certify with.
There are a few common requirements throughout the organizations. Most require evaluations on certifying births from those you worked with. The process often involves required reading, essays, personal references, and a open book test.
My certifying organization, ProDoula, also requires interviews with the doula, a client, and a personal reference. Another invaluable aspect of their process was to begin communication with my local hospitals. I had to learn their policies to I can work with their staff seamlessly, and serve my clients better.
When you choose to take on AND complete certification, it reveals a few things about your commitment level. First, it shows that you are willing to take on difficult tasks to better yourself. It shows you are willing to see things through, to the end, no matter how difficult they become.
A high level of personal commitment will carry over into one’s work with families.
The certification process tests and grows your knowledge. The open book test covers all aspects of pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum period. I was already very knowledgeable in these areas, but I continued to learn more about prenatal care and options, patterns of labor, and postpartum mood disorders. I learned and practiced how to attune with, and serve, each client at their own unique birth.
This part is huge. Often I have heard doulas say that they don’t want to become certified because they don’t want to work under an organisation’s scope of practice.
Now in some cases I get that. When for instance, some organizations prohibit certain aspects like massage or aromatherapy, even if the doula is professionally trained in that area. Thankfully many others will allow it, if you hold the proper accreditation.
However, I have found some have a problem with terms like, “don’t contradict the care providers medical advice or hospital policies”. Some doulas feel the need to “save women” from their doctors or the hospitals. They don’t want that accountability that helps keep us in our scope, assure safe care, and good relations between care providers and doulas.
When you are certified you are held accountable to a scope of practice and the terms you aligned with. Those terms are there to ensure that families are receiving safe and quality care. If you step beyond your scope, there are consequences, and you may lose your certification.
Those elements, put together, establish a level of professionalism that sets Certified Doulas apart.
I chose ProDoula to certify under because I believe in their vision to improve maternity care by mending bridges between doulas and care providers. They drive to elevate the profession of doulas by giving tools and empowering their doulas to establish and run a professional business.
Their foundation of non-judgmental care challenged my biases and grew me as a person and a doula.
I am proud to have earned the right to call myself a Certified Doula!