Today I read on www.doulamatch.net that there are 67 different doula organizations listed on their site. Wow. While there has been an increase in recent years of different certifying paths I had no idea there were that many.
As with just about everything in life and business there are pros and cons to this explosion of new ways to train doulas. Respectfully I submit a few of my thoughts on this matter:
- More professionals and parents are seeing and reaping the benefits of doulas
- Easier access to training, along with likely various payment methods
- Doula has become a household name
- Being a doula does not have to be synonymous with charity work; more doulas are rightfully charging a living wage, which in turn allows for more pro bono or volunteer work when their own financial needs are met
- Teams of doulas can partner up or create agencies which can lessen the hard work of being on call
- Fresh organizations can bring fresh ideas and instill new energy
- More families are being served
- The trusted and well known organizations who have been around for years have a well crafted method of making sure they are creating professional doulas, do the newer organizations also have the same ethic or are they jumping on an opportunity to sell an online program to as many people as possible?
- Clients and professionals may find that there is no standard of ethics, codes, or grievance policy — essentially there is no national standard for doulas.
- A person seeking to become a doula may not be able to tell the difference and spend their educational budget on a program that is not suited to them or does not equip them to be a doula. They may choose one solely based on ease of training, location, or budget price.
- Doulas who are fresh out of training, in my opinion, require mentoring from their organization as well as continuing education and hands on experience. Will they receive this from a course that only includes a booklet of skills they check off and submit?
- The doula profession has a high burnout and turnover rate. The initial interview process and reference check can save an applicant much time and money — sometimes being a doula isn’t a good fit for everyone or it isn’t a good fit for a particular time in someone’s life. If it isn’t a good time or fit for the doula it is not going to be a good fit for their clients or the professionals they are in contact with.
I mentor newer doulas in our area who reach out to me and go through an application process and are a good fit. My view is the world needs more doulas. Experienced doulas should be available to help the newer ones where possible but one of my requirements is for my mentees to have completed a training through an approved certifying organization and either to have been certified or actively working towards that certification. Certification is for everyone’s benefit. It demonstrates the doula understands and is committed to a scope of practice and follows it. It gives any families and medical personnel a place to file a grievance should that ever be necessary. It gives the doula ongoing support through the certifying organization and continuing education. I myself trained and certified through CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) and kept my certification active for many years. Eventually I moved my certification over to Hypnobabies once I became a Hypno-Doula but I still attend CAPPA conferences when I can and I was an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) leader for 7 years and received extensive training, support, and continuing education through that organization as well.
So if you are considering becoming a doula, carefully consider who to train through. How long has the organization been around? What do they offer in the way of not only training and certification but also in ongoing support and continuing education? Their low training fee may not be a bargain if their philosophy does not mesh with yours or if you are getting an incomplete education. My advice is to always try to round out any training with local volunteer opportunities such as a Birth Network or La Leche League, etc, in your area.
If you are considering hiring a doula, how can you know if they have had a good training? Ask who they trained (and hopefully certified or are working on certification) through. Google the organization and see if there is a public scope of practice listed, if there is a grievance policy, if the organization has been around for some time. There could be a new organization that is wonderful and has just begun so also listen to your instinct! Was there any in person or hands on training or was it completely on line? Do they connect their trainees with any mentors? Do their trainees attend yearly conferences or continued educational opportunities? Are there clearly defined guidelines of how to achieve training goals (ex: a set amount of births in a set time frame with satisfied clients as well as satisfied medical personnel giving reviews). Do they do background checks or at minimum, call references? (you probably wouldn’t want a doula with an arrest record, for example).
Growth is good and at times it can be messy. For the first half of my career I usually had to explain what a doula was. Rarely do I have to do that now and I love that! Few people are going to go into birth work unless they have a desire to help families. I feel most of the newer organizations are trying to make it easier to have training easily accessible and are trying to bring in fresh ideas to improve on trusted outlines. We just have to make sure there are some professional standards and that everyone is getting the training and the trained doula they expect and deserve. Happy doula-ing and birthing!
All Rights Reserved, 2017, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula.