Doulas support women through the childbirth and postpartum processes. Becoming a doula requires the completion of formal training programs recognized by a national agency, and you may also want to become certified. Learn more about what doulas do, and review the requirements for earning certification as a doula. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Doula?
A doula is a person who helps other women with all aspects of pregnancy and birthing. There are two major divisions of doulas, birth and postpartum. A birth doula helps a woman and her family physically and mentally prepare for the birthing process. A birth doula also stays with the woman during the actual birth. A postpartum doula helps females adjust to their new roles as mothers after giving birth. Postpartum doulas typically educate women about their new responsibilities, such as breastfeeding, childcare and even time management.
Many doulas have experience in nursing or midwifery in some way, but this is not required. In order to become a doula, you need to take training courses and gain hands-on experience. Training courses are offered by a number of different organizations, but you should make sure they are recognized by a major certifying agency such as DONA, Doulas of North America (www.dona.org). Hands-on experience can be gained by attending live births in the presence of certified doulas.
How Will Certification Help Me?
Once you begin practicing as a doula, you may want to consider becoming certified. A certified doula is one who is nationally or internationally recognized to possess a certain level of skill and professionalism. Becoming certified can inform potential employers about your skills, making you a better candidate for hiring. Certification also provides potential clients with the assurance that you're able to help them effectively and treat them ethically.
As a certified doula, you can practice your trade in two ways. One way is to work for a hospital. This role is usually given to nurses who already work for the hospital and provide doula services to women during labor, as requested by the woman. Another role is to work privately as a doula. This option provides you with more freedom and allows you to work one-on-one with women throughout the course of their pregnancy, during labor and after delivery.
How Can I Become Certified?
The major doula certifying agency in the United States, DONA, has several requirements you must complete before becoming certified. You must complete the required amount of training, write a paper based on suggested readings and gain hands-on experience. You also have to pay a certification fee. Complete information about certification can be found on DONA's website.
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