Standard of Practice – Postpartum Doula
At The International Doula Institute, all Certified Postpartum Doulas are required to follow our Standards of Practice which are as follows:
- Scope of Practice
- Services Provided – All IDI postpartum doulas are trained to provide non-medical postpartum support and education immediately following birth through the first year after birth. Support is both physical, emotional, and practical as needed and desired by the new parent and their partner or support people. Postpartum doulas are trained in emotional intelligence; DEI; and physiological aspects of pregnancy, birth, the postpartum period, lactation, and early newborn care. No medical tasks are provided for the birthing person or infant.
- Limits Within Scope of Practice – It is imperative that all IDI Certified Postpartum Doulas always remain non-clinical and non-medical when practicing as a doula. Postpartum doulas do not perform vital sign checks, administer medication, or provide weighted feeds.
When practicing as a postpartum doula, it is outside scope of practice to provide any medical advice, diagnose, or treat anything. This includes but is not limited to specific dietary recommendations, suggestions for over-the-counter medication, or “natural” products such as supplements. Doulas may provide general education about medical conditions, common pregnancy ailments, treatment options, and remedies but cannot advise nor recommend specifics to any clients. This includes both the birther and the infant.
All clients should be redirected back to their healthcare provider or qualified professional for medical advice, treatment, etc., including for mental health care. If a certified doula is licensed in another profession, she must be clear when she is practicing within her licensed field rather than acting as a doula. Lactation support must remain within scope of practice for a doula which is typical breastfeeding initiation. Any medical concerns, weight concerns, etc., should be referred to a lactation counselor or IBCLC.
- The Scope of Doula Advocacy – IDI doulas are trained in DEI and understanding potential disparities in care. Doulas are also aware of evidenced-based medical care. However, it remains important that doulas are not clinical providers, even if licensed they are not acting as a clinical provider while rendering doula services. At IDI, postpartum doulas are educated to teach clients self-advocacy and to help their support system know how to advocate on the birther’s behalf or on behalf of the infant as needed. Generally, doulas do not speak for a client against a licensed medical provider. Doulas can ask clients if they have questions or want to discuss options with providers. Birth doulas can act as a mediator but should not take a birthing person or their family’s voice away. It is also important to recognize the role and responsibilities of the licensed medical providers in the postpartum period and during early infancy.
- Expectation of Professionalism and Providing Client Care – At IDI, we expect our certified doulas to provide appropriate care and support in a professional manner. This looks like clear communication with potential clients and clients. Doulas are expected to be prepared for unexpected situations, including but not limited to illness, accidents, and inclement weather. A primary doula should make every effort to provide continuity of care and attend shifts where clients expecting them. They are also expected to have adequate back up should an unexpected situation arise making a doula unable to attend a scheduled shift. Clients should be made aware of any potential increased chance of a doula back up. Primary doulas must make every effort to attend a client’s shift and not simply use back up for ease.