A DONA certified birth doula? Well, maybe!

Do you remember when you were in school and you turned in a really big test? Do you remember waiting for your grade to be posted? Did you ever start to second guess your answers, to think "Shoot! I should have said ______  (fill in the blank)" Yeah, that's the part of the doula certification process that I'm in. The waiting and wondering part. 

About nine months ago, well 40+ weeks ago really, I took a birth doula training. Just so I'd be a better prepared birth photographer. And well… things took a bit of a course change. By the end of the training my focus moved from birth photographer to birth doula- and that was the beginning, the conception date if you will, for my journey toward certification. 

I want to tell you a little about the path I’ve taken to becoming a DONA certified doula for two reasons. The first is to let you know what I’ve been doing this year that will help me in supporting women and their partners in labor. You know, toot my own horn a bit, and to give anyone interested in becoming a doula a peek into what’s involved. The second reason is because it’s important that people become more familiar with what in the world a doula is and why a birthing family could benefit from having one. Today I’ll talk about what’s involved in certification and in upcoming posts we can cover the what and why of having a doula.

I unknowingly took care of one of the requirements for certification in the summer of 2014, when I had the chance to attend a class to become a certified lactation counselor. I have been a breast feeding advocate as well as a breast feeding mom for too many years to admit to (after all, it’s not like I’m old enough to have kids who are 20, 18 and 12). Taking the training was a great opportunity to refresh my skills and learn current breastfeeding recommendations. Both as a birth photographer and in my personal life I was always around women who had questions and concerns about nursing so becoming a CLC was a natural fit for me. (This was a 40 hour training but DONA only requires 3 hours- you don’t have to be a certified lactation counselor to become a DONA certified doula)

Once I decided to attend the birth doula training the reading list began… I wish I had a cool photo of all of the books I read in the last year but they were mostly ebooks and a photo of my iPad just wouldn’t be as cool;) Here’s a link to the required reading list though. Pretty impressed, aren’t you?!


Next came the classroom time- the training was fantastic! Like I said, that’s where I decided to change the whole direction of my business! Our instructor, Amy, was a great teacher and I left the training feeling pretty confident that I could support a birthing couple. Here’s the link to Amy’s website where you can get information on her classes.  She’s hoping to have a training in Bismarck this spring so be sure to sign up if you’re thinking about becoming a doula. (It was so nice to not have to travel for the training!)


After the training the real fun began! I was able to start attending births as a doula! It took a little getting used to not wanting to grab my camera to photograph all of the birth details but I immediately fell in love with supporting moms and dads during birth. You have to have attended three births for certification and they have to fall into some seemingly simple parameters… it took seven births before I had three that qualified! I could write forever about how amazing it is to be a part of a birth team and about how every birth is unique but I’ll save that for another time. Out of the three that I sent in for certification one was an awesome induction of twins, one was a first time mom who had a natural hospital birth and one was an amazing home water birth! Birth is so diverse!


While I was attending births and reading there was also a lot of paperwork to be done. Essays, tests, birth records, evaluations forms… I had paperwork everywhere! Here’s a great time line that lays out the whole certification process. The last bit of the process for me was the client resource list. I don’t know why I got so stuck at this last detail but it just seemed overwhelming! I needed 45 listings in 30 different categories for local resources that a birthing family might need. It’s also the part of the process that I’m most worried about- did I do it right? Are the categories going to be ok? Did I mess up the links for web-based resources?  Are web-based resources ok? Well, it doesn't matter now because the 'test' has already been handed in.

Like I said in the beginning, all I can do now is wait. Kind of like when you’ve reached your due date and you’ve done all you can do. You’ve done squats and hip circles and inversions and read every possible ‘trick’ on the entire internet (you might have even tried some of those tricks hoping…) and now it just comes down to waiting. Ideally it’s the baby calling the shots and all you can do is be prepared and wait. It's nice to know that your doula is there waiting with you!


PS- I just received an email from DONA! And... false alarm. They were just letting me know that my packet is in the queue and I'd hear back within the next three months... sigh... I knew it would take months but we always hope that "It's time!" don't we? ;)