Whether you’re new to researching doula work, or you’re an experienced doula, questions about certification are common. Many wonder, is certification important for doulas? There are varying opinions on doula certification. So, we’d like to share some information to help you understand the role of doula certification.
It is important to understand that doula certification and doula training are two different things. Doula training is necessary to become certified. However, not every trained doula chooses to certify. In some cases, doulas might even work with clients without formal training.
At the International Doula Institute (IDI) we strive to ensure doulas and the community understand the role of training and certification.
Doula Certification Is Not A Legal Requirement – But It Is Encouraged
The US and other countries do not regulate doulas. This means certification is not required. However, clients and maternity healthcare providers view certification as a sign of professionalism.
While no states regulate doulas, some hospitals and birthing facilities may request proof of training or certification. Covid-19 showed us how true this can be. It can happen suddenly during a health crisis.
Due to covid-19, many hospitals have put in strict visitor restrictions to reduce the rate of transmission. Evidence supports the use of doula care during labor to improve birth outcomes. For this reason, many hospitals are allowing one birth support person (spouse, parent, friend, etc.) and one doula. To avoid false claims about being a doula, hospitals may request proof of training or certification.
We can never be certain when facilities may request proof. Becoming and maintaining certification means you’re prepared for changes in facility requirements.
Doula Certification Shows Professionalism
There are many aspects to being a professional doula. While certification isn’t the only measure of professionalism, many potential clients may view it that way.
Certification means you’ve completed training and additional requirements to prove you’re prepared to provide doula care. It means a professional body has evaluated and approved your skills. It also shows a level of accountability amongst your colleagues when you align yourself with an organization.
Certifying organizations vet you to some degree. Some consumers find this important when searching for a doula.
You show commitment to your work when you certify. There are many doulas who try out birth work and for a variety of reasons it’s not a doable career option. In many of those cases they may have been trained but not certified and took on clients. Many who take the time to complete certification may be more committed to staying in the field.
This means other doulas, childbirth educators, and other birth workers might recognize your certification as a sign of professionalism and be more inclined to refer to you.
You Gain Valuable Skills Completing Certification
Doula training provides a lot of information and practical skills. However, completing your certification provides even more skills.
In order to complete certification, you have to demonstrate the ability to:
- Interact with clients
- Understand your scope of practice
- Know up-to-date evidenced-based information about birth
- Be comfortable and professional in interacting with maternity healthcare providers
- Provide safe physical, emotional and practical doula support within your scope of practice
- Understand changes in current guidelines and recommendations and how to stay up to date
Each doula organization has varying requirements between training and certification. However, they all require proof you have the above skills in order to certify. At IDI, demonstrating proper professional doula skills is an important part of our certification process.
Certification shows other doulas, healthcare professionals, and clients you’re fully trained.
Why Is Certification Important For Doulas? It Can Set You Apart
As mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement to offer doula support. However, certification can show your professionalism.
Doula work has grown in popularity in recent decades. It has also been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). These recent recognitions has brought doula work more professional recognition.
Completing your certification is one way to demonstrate the professionalism in doula work.
As a certified doula, you may be setting yourself apart from other birth professionals in the area. In some cases, your certification could aid you in getting clients. It could also aid in networking with other birth professionals in the area.
Ultimately, it’s also an investment in yourself. If birth work is your passion, and you desire to make it your career, take time to invest in yourself! Completing your certification is an excellent way to invest in your passion.
Looking to certify? Learn more about our IDI Birth Doula Certification.