No Certification Births For Birth Boot Camp DOULAS
Tradition is wonderful, but sometimes it becomes necessary to question why a certain tradition lives on. In the doula certification world, there is a long tradition of “certification births” that must be finished before you are officially a doula. While there are good intentions behind the certification birth requirements for doulas, in truth, requiring certification births that meet strict guidelines only serves to devalue the doula profession as a whole.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the woman who cuts the ends off her pot roast before putting it in her (large) pan. When her mother notices, she asks why she is doing that. The daughter had never even thought to question why it was done, it was just something she’d seen her mother do all her life. Come to find out, the pan her mother cooked the roast in always seemed too small, so she cut the ends off the pot roast, but she should have just bought a new pan!
What does pot roast have to do with doula certification? Doula certification programs have always required certification births. To keep with tradition, we considered this requirement as part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program. As we started asking ourselves hard questions about the purpose of certifying births, we determined that just because they have always been part of the process, doesn’t mean they are still useful. In fact, a strict certifying birth requirement can hold a doula back professionally. In effect, it is time that doula certifying organizations metaphorically “buy a pan that fits”. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we do not require certification births to become a doula. We have found a better way.
Why Require Doula Certification Births?
What constitutes a “certifying birth”? First, some organizations require the doula to be at the birth for a set amount of time for it to count towards certification. Birth Boot Camp teaches that labor is variable and takes as long as it needs, so setting a minimum time is not compatible with what we know about birth. Second, at Birth Boot Camp, we feel that women don’t need vaginal exams to progress in labor. To require a doula to be present from an arbitrary dilation calculation is not supported by our philosophy and continues to promote the erroneous idea that dilation is the only way of measuring labor progress. A final concern is that the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program has a huge emphasis on relational - not just physical - support. We train our doulas to connect with their clients so that they can best serve them. A certain number of certification births does not give us information about a doula’s skills in this area.
Continuous Doula Accountability
If the purpose of certifying births is accountability and experience, there is a better way. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS are accountable, not only for the first few births they attend, but all of them throughout their career with Birth Boot Camp DOULA! Based on the number of Supporting Arms booklets they order for their clients in a given year, our doulas are required to fill out a Birth Summary for 80% of them. We aim for 100% but realize this isn’t always possible. Our doulas, like Birth Boot Camp Instructors, keep statistics to be transparent and measure their own effectiveness so we can make changes as needed. Accountability for a doula should last far longer than her three certifying births.
An evaluation form is sent to every Birth Boot Camp DOULA client so that they may evaluate the care they received from their doula This form does not actually go back to the doula, but to our Doula Certification Coordinator, who can then share the evaluation with the doula if the client gives permission. So, the two evaluations are coming from the doula and her client, not a care provider who may have spent only minutes in the doula’s presence. Care providers and nurses may be willing, but generally they have no relationship with the doula or any incentive to help her reach her goal of certification. The most important opinion is that of the birthing mother. We seek her views on the birth and role of her doula and value them highly. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, certification births are not held over the doula’s head, and ongoing evaluations simply become a part of constantly striving to be a better doula.
Changing the Culture of “Free Doulas”
It is impossible to have a conversation about “certification births” without addressing “free doulas.” At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, we talk a lot about professionalism, scope of practice, and sustainability. Doulas being forced to complete certification births perpetuates the problem of couples always looking for a “free doula” and a culture that undervalues the unique supportive role of female birth workers. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS complete a heavy workload, followed by an intense 3-day workshop. They complete an exam at the end of the workshop, and upon passing, they are declared certified. They are ready to work! We recommend they charge a starting wage at their discretion, charging not below $300. A Birth Boot Camp DOULA will never be encouraged to work for free nor will she be so desperate for her certification births that she feels compelled to work for free.
Doulas Supporting Doulas
Birth Boot Camp DOULAS leave training with all the skills, knowledge and business savvy to be incredible doulas. She is not left to figure things out on her own, as she has a tremendous support team at Birth Boot Camp Headquarters and among her fellow Birth Boot Camp DOULAS. We have created an avenue to launch new Birth Boot Camp DOULAS to success and help them to reach their goal of having an enjoyable, profitable, and sustainable career as a doula.
Our doulas are enrolled in a mentorship program where they receive ongoing guidance and continue their development in several ways including a one-on-one consultation with one of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA creators and trainers, Amanda Devereux or Maria Pokluda. Our mentorship program is designed to develop each Birth Boot Camp DOULA’s relational support skills, business model, support them through their early births, and enhance what they learned through Birth Boot Camp DOULA training.
At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we have aimed to create a unique and superior doula certification program. We are not afraid to break tradition in order to make better doulas who can have lasting careers where they are compensated for their efforts. There is no doula certification program that offers the training, materials, and ongoing support that Birth Boot Camp DOULA does. Join our ranks today!