Standards of Practice – Birth Doula
At The International Doula Institute, all Certified Birth Doulas are required to follow our Standards of Practice which are as follows:
- Scope of Practice
- Services Provided – All IDI birth doulas are trained to provide non-medical prenatal support and education, non-medical continuous labor support, and immediate postpartum support in non-clinical tasks. Support is both physical, emotional, and practical as needed and desired by the birthing person and their partner or support people. Birth doulas are trained in emotional intelligence; DEI; and physiological aspects of pregnancy, birth, the postpartum period, lactation, and early newborn care. Support may begin at anytime in the prenatal period or early labor and extend to the initial postpartum period.
- Limits Within Scope of Practice – It is imperative that all IDI Certified Birth Doulas always remain non-clinical and non-medical when practicing as a doula. Birth doulas do not perform vital sign checks, fetal heart tone checks, nor any cervical examinations.
When practicing as a birth 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.
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.
- 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 the doulas are not clinical providers, even if licensed they are not acting as a clinical provider while rendering doula services. At IDI, birth doulas are educated to teach clients self-advocacy and to help their support system know how to advocate on the birther’s behalf 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 during a birth.
- 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 a birth of a client expecting them. They are also expected to have adequate back up should an unexpected situation arise making a doula unable to attend. 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 birth and not simply use back up for ease.