Lately the doula profession has become kind of “cool”, and every year there are more and more doulas and doula groups popping up in NH and on the Seacoast. On the surface, the option of more doulas from which to find a good match might seem like a new parent’s dream; but it actually makes your work much more complicated.
Birth doulas are not licensed or regulated in the United States. This means that anyone can claim to be a Doula- without any training, experience, or standards of practice. That’s kind of scary.
So how do you protect yourself?
Demand a certified doula.
Certification by a well known National or International Organization, that has been in existence for several years, is a good place to start. Certification provides assurance that your doula has meet a standard of education, experience, scope of practice and continuing education. Not only should you ask your doula if and by whom she is certified, but you should contact that agency to verify that it is current. Just being trained by an organization is not enough. Certification guarantees that not only has a doula attended a basic training program, but she has committed to creating her own community resource connections, spent at least a basic number of hours supporting women in labor, has done some self-examination of her initial birth support experiences, and been reviewed and evaluated by the mothers and professionals she has worked with.
Expect DONA certification.
Just as anyone can claim to be a doula, anyone can claim to certify doulas. The best way to ensure that your doula has skills, education, and ethics you can count on, is to hire a doula who has been certified by a well-known and respected doula certifying and training organization like DONA International.
DONA International is the oldest, largest and most respected doula association in the world. Their founders are among the foremost experts on doula care, and DONA International certification is a widely respected measure of quality and professionalism. You deserve no less.
It is vital that a doula is continually expanding her knowledge base. Certification is only the first step in a career long education that keeps a doula abreast of cutting-edge, evidence based best practice; and newly emerging information and techniques that may benefit mother/baby outcomes. While daily reading, networking and experience are helpful, CEUs demonstrate that a doula is current and connected to her certifying agency.
Before you ask how much she charges, or how many births she has attended; find out if she is certified – and by whom.