Code of Ethics for Birth and Postpartum Doulas
At The International Doula Institute (IDI), we value professionalism, ethics, and evidence-based support. We require all our certified birth and postpartum doulas to adhere to our code of ethics to remain certified and in good standing at IDI.
Rules of Conduct
- Integrity – All IDI doulas must act in a professional manner and practice integrity in how they run their business, interact with clients, work with colleagues, and interact with the healthcare community.
- Professionalism – IDI Doulas will strive to become and remain professionals in their interactions. This means communicating in a professional manner with clients, colleagues, and other professionals.
- Proficiency in Birth and Postpartum Work – IDI certified doulas will become and remain proficient in evidence-based understanding of the physiology of pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. They will understand typical newborn adjustment and infant development within their scope of practice. Continuing education, self-education through reading evidenced-based resources, and attending additional relevant trainings are important aspects of remaining within the appropriate conduct of a professional doula.
Professional and Ethical Responsibility to Clients
- Doulas will interact with potential clients and clients in a professional way while clearly communicating their role and scope of practice.
- Doulas will make every effort to provide clear communication about their specific services, costs, and refund/non-refundable fees.
- If a doula fails to provide agreed upon services, they will respond in a professional manner in agreement with their service agreement/contract with the client and refund any necessary fees already paid.
- Continuity of care is a pillar of ethical support for our clients. Doulas will strive to be honest about their limitations and risk factors for potential use of back up (e.g., a scheduled vacation near a client’s on-call window) so potential clients can make an informed decision about proceeding with care.
- Doulas will not practice outside their scope of practice and will ensure clients are made aware they are fully non-medical and non-clinical.
- IDI does not support certified birth doulas attending planned unattended, unassisted births (no qualified provider present) to protect both the doula and the client. A birth doula has the skills to provide continuous support throughout the labor but is not equipped to provide any clinical or medical care in the event of an emergency. IDI believes birth doulas being the highest professional at a planned unattended birth can provide clients with a false sense of security and steps outside our ethical scope of practice. Doulas who choose to attend unassisted births are doing so outside IDI’s code of ethics and are not representing IDI certification.
- Doulas will refer clients back to their healthcare provider or another professional if they are asked about things beyond their scope of practice or if a doula notices anything concerning. Doulas will not diagnose or treat birthers or their babies.
- A doula will not speak for a client. Rather, a doula seeks to educate and empower clients to find their own voice as well as encourage and educate partners and support people to be a voice for the birther or baby as needed.
Professional and Ethical Responsibility to Doula Colleagues
- IDI doulas will treat fellow IDI doulas as well as any other doulas with respect, courtesy, and professionalism. Any grievances, disagreements, or concerns around business difficulties will be handled in a professional manner.
- Per IDI training, when collaborating with another doula to support a single client, it is important to respect the primary doula and their agreements with the client.
Professional and Ethical Responsibility to Healthcare Providers in Birth Work
- It is important to respect and understand the role, responsibility, and needs of a healthcare provider before, during, and after birth.
- Maintain professional interactions and communications with healthcare providers.
Professional and Ethical Responsibility to Birth Work and the Community as a Whole
- It is important to remain professional and acting within scope of practice when acting as a doula. As doulas, we represent each other and our profession anytime we interact with clients, healthcare professionals, and the community. We have the power to create positive or negative associations with doulas within birth work.
- We must act with honesty and integrity in our profession
- When we are able to support fellow birth workers, birthing people, etc., we should consider the opportunity to provide community service – however we should not do this to the detriment of our or our family’s wellbeing.
- Doulas should be aware of and encourage policies, practices, and community behaviors which support the health and wellbeing of birthers and babies.