doulas and certifications
June 2, 2009 § 9 Comments
i think that learning all that you can about reproductive health and justice, pregnancy, birth, post partum care, breast feeding, conception, abortion, miscarriage, newborns, infants, and children, and so much more is vital to being a responsible birth worker.
i studied reproductive health and justice in a myriad of ways. DONA doula workshop, books, internet, being mentored, sharing with birth workers, meditation and movement, assisting births, and talking talking talking with mothers.
i personally value sitting in workshops, being able to ask questions in person and long distance. i found the DONA doula workshop interesting and it gave me a better sense of the attitudes and foci of the birth worker community in Minnesota. but taking the workshop does not mean that i must apply for the certification. or follow any organization’s entire track toward certification. nor do i need certification to work as a doula or to be a trainer.
and maybe it is important for me to repeat that: i do not need certification from any organization to work as a doula or be a trainer. yes, w/o certification i may not be able to work as lucratively for a doula organization as others choose to do. but i can be a birth worker. a really good doula. and i can mentor others to becoming birth workers. one of my mentors toward becoming a doula did not have her certification at the time but she had lots of experience, a great trust in birth and women, and a practice of solidarity with marginalized peoples.
now i dont decry other folks decisions to be certified. each of us has to weigh the pros and the cons.
and my critique of dona is not simply their erasure of difference in favor of the ‘normal’ female. it is also specifically that dona makes it clear that the doula should not contradict the or disagree with the doctor or nurses no matter what. she cannot touch any of the medical equipment (even when the nurse asks her to and not having to call the nurse for every little unplug so the birthing woman can walk around a bit eases the mother’s pain). and in the workshop that i was in (which i took because the doula trainer had a background in working with immigrant communities and so there was probably much more emphasis on intersectional analysis than most dona trainings…) i asked more than once about how far were we allowed to support the mothers lead. and i was told that we were allowed to support the birthing mothers agency until it required that we: give what was understood to be medical advice or contradicted the hopital professionals.
there are lots of doula certification programs available. here is a partial list:
MaternityWise – Certifying postpartum doulas internationally
i have heard from other doulas that ictc provides an amazing training and has a different protocol. also heard good things about alace and birthing from within. but dona is the ‘gold standard’ of doula certification and i dont know why.
but i do think that there is an opportunity for radical women of color birth workers to come together and create sites and modalities that center radical women of color/reproductive justice/working poor/ queer folk/immigrant and refugee communities. this is part of what i am exploring with outlaw midwives.
for me the question comes down to whom is my loyalty? is it to the organization which gives me a bit of gloss and prestige through being certified? is it to the hospital policies, staff, and insurance? is it to the state or federal laws, to protective child services, to social norms and taboos? or is it to the birthing mama?
when loyalty to the birthing mama comes in conflict with doula organizations protocol, hospital policies, or laws…who is my focus? and why?