For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a DONA birth doula certification entails, here is what I have done over the past year and a half:
- Attend a DONA Birth Doula Training Workshop
- Read 5 books - The Birth Partner, Klaus Kennell and Klaus' Doula Book, a comprehensive pregnancy book, a breastfeeding book, and a book on natural childbirth.
- Read the DONA Birth Doula Position Paper, Code of Ethics, and Scope of Practice.
- Attend a Childbirth Education course
- Attend a Lactation Education course (can be done online)
- Write a list of resources for clients in your area - at least 45 from 30 different categories
- Attend a minimum of 15 hours of labor from 3 different births. Must be the primary doula and be present before the onset of active labor (4-5 cm dilation). Receive positive evaluation forms from the mother PLUS the midwife or an OB/nurse combo.
- Fill out labor and delivery progression chart and record forms for each birth, and write an essay on each birth experience including what I learned and how the mother felt.
- Write an essay on the Purpose and Value of Labor Support.
- Provide professional character references, pay fees, and maintain DONA membership.
1 as the secondary doula, 6 on my own, 1 home birth, 1 epidural birth, 6 natural births, 0 cesarean sections, 2 midwife-attended births and 5 OB births, 4 primips and 3 multips, and only 1 where the mother was no longer breastfeeding at the postpartum visit.
Labors that occurred mostly at home were the fastest labors. When the majority of a woman's labor took place in the hospital, these were my longest labors. I don't know if this is a rule/fact or a coincidence...
I've had some really awesomely doula-supportive nurses and doctors, and I've had some apathetic or mildly unfriendly nurses and doctors. None were openly hostile. Everyone signed my evaluation forms without much annoyance. The home birth midwife was the one that got me the most involved - Look at the placenta! Here, hold the baby! Hold this flashlight still while I stitch mom's perineum! The hospital midwife sat down with me and discussed each point on my evaluation with me. One nurse made copies of the form and handed it out to multiple other nurses to fill out (unnecessary, but I didn't tell her that in her excitement - "I'll help you get certified!")
Advice to other doulas:
The process will probably take longer than you think it will. You might put a lot of time and money into your first births and not even have them count for certification. Chase those OB's down ASAP for your evaluation form signatures because they disappear fast. Find and talk to other local doulas - for resources, to vent, to shadow, etc. Do not go head-to-head with a nasty nurse or doctor - this could ruin the birth experience for your client, you won't get your good evaluation, and you will harm the doula profession.
In academic news, this summer I am continuing my public health required core courses, so I haven't yet delved into the interesting maternal and child health part of public health.
Also, I received a first-year evaluation from my anthropology department. My professors said that I am "very good at thinking anthropologically"! It's always nice to be validated in one's chosen field of study.