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Uncertified doulas thread/tribe

1681 Views 44 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Aka mommy
Hey! I am a doula, I began through DONA, but realized I didn't want or feel a need to be certified, so I haven't gone through with it.
I feel if I go to a workshop of some sort every year, that's what's important.
Sooo...any other uncertified doulas, please join me!
I'd love to know why you're uncertified, how it affects you practice, etc as I am new to the idea of being uncertified!
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*hi five* I'm with ya!

I am a doula, trained in 2002 with DONA and was going to certify with PALS (local org, precursor to DONA, actually) when they were reimbursing doulas who worked with state-aid moms, but that program died and so did my reason for cert.

I am certifying with Birthing From Within as a Childbirth Mentor because it is a personal adventure as much as a professional one.

It has not affected my practice because I explain to my clients what is required to be 'certified', and that (no offense to certified doulas) it is not an indicator of experience or professionalism or standard of care, it only means you've attended at least three births and read a reading list and a few other requirements.

My fantasy for certification is that the organization would assign each doula a mentor who would help the doula explore her own birth experiences or values about birth if she hasn't given birth again, give reflection on areas that the doula could strengthen her knowledge, skills or cope with her biases, and would basically foster her through the process. A license is different than a certification, obviously, but either one presents to the client that you've met some sort of level of knowledge. I'm just uncomfortable with that.

I am also extremely frustrated with the concept that is getting widely spread that says that women can just find a free doula because she 'needs' the birth for certification and 'has to' perform for free.
I can't even describe how this changes the dynamic of the relationship from a professional providing a service to a woman doing a doula a favor. How does this benefit the doula in any way if she feels like the client is doing her a favor? It doesn't teach doulas how to manage clients, how to set boundaries (one of the most CRITICAL things for doulas to learn!), how to explore the value of her services, etc. If the doula *wants* to do it, I see no problem with that- but I've heard too many new doulas coming out of training thinking that they have to provide free services, and far too many women expecting free services from new doulas. I am very uncomfortable with that! I hope that it can shift, and I do my best to help by advocating to new doulas to charge what they think they are worth (but CHARGE!), offer free services *with boundaries* if they want to, and be clear about why they are doing it and what they are hoping to get out of it.
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I hear ya kristina....I think it is great for doula's to work with women on a sliding scale, but it is important that doula's are paid for the professional services they provide.

I too am uncertified. I started my training through DONA. I started the certification process...things I would have been doing anyway...attending births, reading, writing, reflecting etc....I also agree that while I think certification is not a bad thing, it could mean more and be better. I don't think certification alone is an indication of professionalism or experience. Yet, I think training is important. I am somewhat torn as I like DONA a lot. I had exceptional training through them. I do know someone who had awful training through them as well.

The main reason I am not certified is that I keep having babies!! My Dh thinks that pregnancy is the occupational hazzard of being a doula!! I found out I was pregnant two seperate times right after I attended births.

Anyway, I take long breaks and attend the births that are right for me and the client. I hope to persue more training in the future and maybe look into certification....
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Oh I SO agree!!!

That is *very* cool about the Birthing from Within thing. I looked into it, but to be honest, with me trying to become a's too much!

I am going to do ALACE CBE training and possibly gert cert.
The thing about DONA, is that I felt it was very ...cold almost from the beginning and not holistic, which is how I veiw myself as a doula. BUT I got awesome training, however more about th ebuisness of things could have been covered, IMO, and some other things... I want to, like I said, do a training once a year, from all organizations. That is what really is important to me.
I realized early on cert was not my bag! Truthfully...I also can't do rules!!!

May I ask something? What DO you say when you talk to clients about not being certified? I have been wondering this for sometime...
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I am currently not certified; I am in the process of getting certified by ALACE. I want to get certified for 2 reasons: to have the experience (ALACE requires six births which is a good start), and, personal to me, I would like to complete something I've started.

I notice a couple of you started with DONA and stopped... <trying not to step on any DONA toes>

Here's what I like about ALACE: I write a long two-part exam that is reviewed/commented by a midwife, and in getting the reviews/comments by email, I'm developing a relationship with the midwife who is doing my exam. I feel I can talk to her as a mentor. Strangely enough, she is at the UCSD birth center, where I delivered my dd, so I actually met her about 2 years ago, before I became a doula. Anyway, I like that I am getting feedback from a midwife who I know and trust. She really reads my exam thoroughly and comments on everything, whether she asks me to rewrite it or just think about it.

As far as doing free births, when I was searching out clients to fulfill my req'ments I always charged a "commitment fee" of $100. My doula cautioned me against ever doing a birth for free. She said (and I agree) that money separates those who are committed to their births vs those who just want an extra set of hands.
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I'm not certified, and for awhile, I was uncomfortable with calling myself a doula. My background is that I have been working on CBE certification with ALACE. I chose to go this route because I thought it would be more "practical" with my four little ones. But, as time has gone on, I have kept putting off my CBE studies because I think I really just want to be a doula.

My main reason for not certifying is because of the cost. And then, awhile back, I read a thread on the Midwifery Today forum about being a certified vs. a "lay" doula. It had never even occured to me not to certify. But, a lot of the doulas on there said that it wasn't an issue with their clients. So, I started thinking about what it really meant to be a doula. Am I able to provide the same care as certified doula? Yes. Have I studied and read? Yes. Do I have a love and passion for women and birth and being a doula? Yes.

I haven't begun to actively recruit clients. I'm just relying on word of mouth. I figure that whoever finds me is supposed to find me, and that suits me just fine for now. I don't want to be too busy at this point with my kids.

Maybe I'll certify one day with ALACE. I've been pleased with their program and philosophies. We'll see, though. Right now, I'm not in any hurry!

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I am an uncertified doula. I am looking to certify through CAPPA for post partum doula as my youngest is 6months old and too attached to the boob for me to be of any use as a birth doula. My hopes are to become a post partum doula, then a birth doula then eventually a midwife! I am not certified yet as the $ is an issue. I will only be certifying as people seem to have this stigma about uncertified means unqualified. They also seem to think it means your services are free.

I agree with a previous poster about the whole point of certifying. It really does not garuntee much. I have attended 2 births besides my own but was not an 'official' doula. I believe also that doula's in training should not offer their services for free as this sets up the doula field for failure. I have not yet started searching for clients, any ideas as to where to find mothers interested in post partum doulas? The local hossy wont let me advertise so Im stuck plus my last birth was a homebirth, maybe I will contact my midwives though i wouldnt want to put them in that position. In the meantime I have read over half the books on the DONA and CAPPA reading lists (Im a book whore
what can i say) and have slowly been gathering things to start my own practice.

I am so incredibly passionate about natural childbirth and the imporatance of post partum care that I can barely contain it.
So funny how I found all of this AFTER I have children!
But I will work with it. I hope so dearly to be able to start a change in this country even if its just in my own family in regards to birth and after. I also hope to help other mothers avoid the dumps of post partum depression with proper post partum care! I could go on forever, but ill shut up now. Im a blabbering uncertified doula
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AKAmommy- Don't shut up!!! talk talk talk! This is why I started this thread!
I'll post more later..DS HAS to go outside~
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Thank you for this thread!

Hi Kristina...I'm also over at OS and alldoulas (actually, I asked about this there and I think you replied to that thread).

This is something I've been struggling with as I start my doula journey. I need the training/workshop but I'm just not sure about certification. I see the benefits of both sides, that's where my indecision lies. Eventually I can see myself in more of a monitrice role.

Any input or things to consider would be great!!!

I have not yet started searching for clients, any ideas as to where to find mothers interested in post partum doulas?
Do you know anyone who teaches CBE?
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Hey teachinmama..

There's no reason you can't take every workshop out there, if that's what you want to do! My last doula workshop was three years ago and I was all set to take another one next month but realized.. duh.. I'm TTC, I won't be practicing as a doula for abut three years- why spend the money gaining skills that I'm not going to be using for a long time? So I'll take another training after I'm ready to return to work.

I need the training/workshop but I'm just not sure about certification.
I can't think of any trainings off the top of my head that require certification...?
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I just meant attend the training but not complete the certification process.
I DO think training as a doula is very important...

I have mixed feelings about certification....particularly through DONA.

I know doulas that have attended three births and are certified and I know doulas who have attended 60-100 births and are NOT certified. Who would you want at your birth? I think reading and documenting your births is great but experience is the key.

I went through DONA training ten years ago and did not certify because of young babies and children. This winter when my youngest was 4, decided to get certified. Ordered the packet....then read on page 4, I believe ...that certification needs to be within 4 years of a workshop. I thought, this must be for doulas that have been inactive... NOPE!

I have been a active doula for ten years, the coordinator for two hospital based doula programs and the coordinator for our professional doula organization for 9 years, have done countless in-services in my community blah blah blah...and apparently am unable to certify unless I go through another training. I think that is SILLY. The reason DONA states, is that evidence based medical info changes with time, and I appreciate that..but doulas do not perform anything medical. I wrote to DONA, "if only the majority of care providers in my area where as up to date with evidence based info as I was....regarding the hazards of routine inductions, epidurals, VBAC, planned c-births and the importance of breastfeeding."

Have yet to hear a word back....not impressed. They told me in order to certify I needed to travel to a different state ( there are no longer trainers in my state) OR sponsor a workshop myself and bring in a doula trainer. YEA RIGHT!

The whole experience has left a bad taste in my I will continue to be a busy doula without a CD behind my name.
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Well, i am not certified yet, though i am working towards my certification. Although i think that you do not have to be certified to be a good doula. My personal reasons for working towards certification: I attended an ALACE training and it was awesome
I really like their philosophies and have decided to sponsor a training in my area. I am so excited to bring some more "doula awareness" here because it is sorely lacking and we are entrenched in the medical model. Secondly, this is my passion, and i really look at this like my "schooling" so for my own personal sense of accomplishment, i wanted to see my training through with certification.

But truly, i think that most doulas, certified or uncertified, are pretty well read in regards to comfort techniques because most of them are totally into childbirth. And that is what makes a really good doula-- knowledge of how to empower your clients to really shape their own birth and a strong set of hands

Oh, preggo brain, i forgot which poster had her baby at UCSD, was your trainer Susan?

Thanks for starting this thread, i guess i don't necessarily belong here, since i am working toward my cert, but i feel like i do
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I am SO happy this thread is getting goin!
I really don't know how I feel about DONA either. Most of the doulas I've met who was CD(dona) like to s***-talk ALACE! It bugs me! Has any one else experienced that?
I feel like if I certify ever (which is not likely) I'll probably go through ALACE. That is who Iam going through for CBE and I may not actually do cert with them or at all, just get the info and training.
That is my big thing-training. I like it, it makes me feel "up to date", plus I am constantly (well- as constant as a mama with a 13 month old can be
) reading birth books, doula books, breasdtfeeding, midwifery books etc And I try to get as involved witht he birth commuinity as possible.
Also, I kind of don't want to sell out, ya know? I feel doula-ing is very ancient and sacred and that I don't need to certify to be a doula.
I guess, also, I don't like rules that go along with certification. I like being able to be the doula that I am without worrying "Oh! That's not what a ____ doula is supposed to do!" If a womyn asks me to check her cervix, who am I to say no? I feel like a lot of times doulas have to give in more to the hospital staff and that sort of thing than to be there for the mama. I feel like that is what is so wrong with the birthing commuinity int he first place: It all becomes about rules and laws and not about the mama.
Anywho...I'll stop preaching to the choir!

Oh! So, I want to know what you ladies tell clients abotu why you've chosen to not be certified?
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I'm going to disagree on the checking cervixes thing just because the consequences of that are FAR reaching. As an uncertified doula I agree that we should be able to define our boundaries but if you are performing clinical tasks, then call yourself a monitrice- not a doula. Doulas who get caught doing these things put the rest of us at risk, hospitals ban doulas for this sort of behavior and then how do we help our clients? Yk?

I had a client who had ruptured membranes for 5 days and I didn't perform one single clinical task. What if I did/ What if I checked heart tones and they sounded good to me, but really baby was crashing? The responsibility goes from the mother making a choice, to ME diagnosing heart tones or cervical dilation or vitals... and since I am not at the birth in that capacity (or any formal training), it's MY ass if something goes wrong.

Empower women to check themselves! There's no reason that clients can't rent a doppler if they want to check heart tones at home- and if they are looking for that hands-on care, they should have a midwife present.

I am going to be a midwife and I am considering going to medical school down the road- It is hard to pass up the opportunities to do what seems like little things, heart tones, vag exams, etc. But truly- I have grown very frustrated hearing from nurses who have walked in on a doula with her hand where it should not be, or hearing about hospitals who won't allow doulas, or doctor's practices who won't take patients who want doulas- we have to be real sensible about our businesses and keep in mind that the consequences aren't just for *us* but for our profession as well!

Have you thought about looking into becoming a monitrice instead of a doula? Then you can do labor support but have the training to do the vag exams/vitals/etc. It might be somethign to look into as a segue into midwifery!
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I feel like a lot of times doulas have to give in more to the hospital staff and that sort of thing than to be there for the mama.
As a doula, my priority is always my client - as it should be for any doula! I prefer hospital births because I know the terrain extremely well, and I know how to dance the 'submissive doula' in front of staff, and the powerful advocate for my client. It's all about putting her desires and needs first, and not putting myself into an adversarial position with the staff. I'd never ask my client to consent to something she didn't want, not for the sake of the staff or for the peace or anything else. Her wishes are paramount!

The more you post the more you sound more like a homebirth midwife to me than a doula!
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i absolutely disagree with checking a woman's cervix because she wants me to. i think that's outside the scope of a doula's duties, certified or otherwise! i agree that that is the type of thing that gets doulas frowned upon in the medical community. be careful!
even a licenced paramedic is NOT allowed to put their hand in the vagina, EVER unless in the case of a prolapsed cord!!
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Doula's doing VE's...I think there is indeed a gray area...I dont, but know two doulas who are also RN's one works for a OB and one works in Labor and Delivery and I have no problem calling them and having them check a mom for me. Once, I was with one of these ladies and she taught me how to do a VE..and I'm really glad I did..but WILL NOT OFFER this as a service.

I agree, moms or dads can do their own VE.

In the ALACE training, we learned how to do VE's and did them on each other... in my contract I state specifically what I do and what I do NOT do, and I do not do anything medical. I've never had a client ask me to do a VE, although my best friend (stayathomemommy on here) is due yesterday, and she has said she might ask me to do it. But what I've learned from the most recent birth I attended on Sunday is that Xcm is only a tiny part of the whole equation.

Btw, yes, I delivered at UCSD birthing center and I forget the name of the MW who caught my dd, but Therese (to-raise) did my workshop and Susan Cassel is going over my exam.

O/T: I'm always impressed with pregnant women who can do their own VE. I could barely reach to wipe my own ass when I was in later stages of pregnancy.

Originally Posted by doula and mom
In the ALACE training, we learned how to do VE's and did them on each other...
O/T: I'm always impressed with pregnant women who can do their own VE. I could barely reach to wipe my own ass when I was in later stages of pregnancy.


Originally Posted by ALACE website
You will also receive an introduction to the following skills:
  • Maternal vital signs during pregnancy and birth
  • Palpation of fetal position and presentation
  • Auscultation of fetal heart tones by fetoscope
  • Sterile technique
  • Understanding common tests and techniques
  • Basic pelvic examination
The ALACE training gives you a chance to experience being at the other end of things, so to speak...
.. but does not prepare you to diagnostically perform any of these techniques. This is a common confusion I've run into time and again- but ALACE's training in no way teaches doulas how to perform vag exams- because they are more midwifery oriented, they give doulas the chance to experience what those things are like.

I think it's a great experience and the next training I take will be ALACE because I do plan to go on to midwifery when the baby we are TTC is old enough for me to go to school.

I don't know how I managed to check my own cervix at the end of my last pregnancy but I did it! I think I sat on the toilet and contorted wildly... it's a freakin miracle I didn't pull a muscle!
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