3.09.2011

Doula Certification

Those of you who are my Facebook friends may have seen that I'm beginning the doula certification process. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

Becoming a doula is something I knew I wanted to do when I found out what they were, and I experienced what having one during labor was like. Basically doulas are awesome. So extremely awesome. I believe almost every woman would benefit from a doula, no matter the circumstances.

Research supports me in this declaration as well. Many studies have shown doulas to be beneficial. There was actually one published just a few months ago that found

After examining 21 trials involving over 15,000 women, the review authors found that women who received continuous support (i.e. a doula) during labor:
  • were more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • were less likely to have intrapartum analgesia (i.e. an epidural)
  • were less likely to report dissatisfaction with their labors
  • had shorter labors
  • were more likely to give birth without cesarean, vacuum, or forceps
  • were less likely to have regional analgesia
  • were less likely to have babies with a low 5-minute Apgar score

Basically doulas increase good birth outcomes and provide great support for laboring women and their families. And it's so my calling in life.

And you're thinking great Tracie. But what's a doula?


A doula is a trained, skilled, labor support professional who helps guide mothers through their birth experience by providing emotional, physical, and informational support.  The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek term meaning “servant to mother.”  A doula does not replace a doctor or midwife, and does not provide any clinical diagnosis or perform any medical procedures.


A doula:
  • Recognizes birth as a significant life experience.
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a laboring woman.
  • Provides continuous support, practical comfort measures, and an objective viewpoint to aid in decision-making.
  • Complements the care provided by the woman's partner and birth attendants.
  • Protects and nurtures the memory of the birth experience. 

You don't technically have to be certified to be a doula, but it's recommended. I decided to certify with DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America). In order to get certified I have to 

  1.  Become a member of DONA (Check!)
  2. Apply for the doula certification program (Check!)
  3. Attend a doula workshop of at least 16 hours 
This is where I am right now. Tomorrow I start my doula workshop. It's Thursday through Saturday from 9 to 5. So, yes, three full days of doula training. My curriculum is as follows:

Thursday
Registration and Introductions
Birth - A transformation
The Benefits of A Doula
The Prenatal Interview(s)
Emotional Preparation and Education
Intrapartum Support
Comfort Measures for Labors
Imagery

Friday
Review and Assessment
Second Stage Overview
AIDS and HIV Protection
Difficult Labor Management
Cesarean and VBAC Support
Newborn Care and Breastfeeding
Postpartum Nurturing
Modeling and Role Play
Affirmations and Birth Journaling

Saturday
Review and Assessment
Giving Support Through Loss
Developing Personal Style
Values Clarification
Standard of Practice
Code of Ethics
Establishing A Practice
Certification Options
Birth Journaling and Closing

I'm so excited for this I can't even tell you. I'm excited and nervous and all sorts of things. But my doula certification won't be complete after the workshop. After that I have to

  • 4.  Read 5 books on a reading list on birth, labor, doula support, breastfeeding support, and postpartum care. (There are other books there are recommended on the book list.) I've already finished most of this
  • 5.  Observe a childbirth education class of at least 12 hours.
  • 6.  Complete a breastfeeding education course.
  • 7.  Provide continuous doula service at a minimum of three births at least from the onset of active labor to birth.
  • 8.  Document each of the three births for I provide labor support by keeping a record sheet and typing a 500-700 word account of the birth.
  • 9.  Prepare a list of local resources to give to my doula clients.
  • 10.  Obtain evaluations of my doula services from at least three clients, three primary care providers, and three nurses or midwives.
  • 11.  Provide two character references.
  • 12.  Write a type written essay of 500-1000 words on the value and purpose of labor support.
Obviously this is going to take me awhile. So I'm glad I finally bit the bullet and decided to get started. Again, the excitement is paramount. I'm going to write about my certification process and why I decided I wanted to be a doula. So wish me luck and stay tuned!