I started attending births as a doula in 1999. I attended two doula trainings, did the required reading and studying, attended three evaluated births, and completed all the writing assignments. With trepidation, I submitted my application to become certified. In early 2000, I was elated to get the call from what was then called Doulas of North America (now DONA International). I can still remember exactly where I was standing (in the hall) and what I was doing (heading to change a dirty diaper) when the call came.
I’ve maintained that certification for the last thirteen years. At the end of this month, I am choosing to let it lapse.
It has been hard to pull away from the organization that did so much to help me grow and develop as a doula. I have written articles for publication in the DONA journal “The International Doula” and I have been a speaker at DONA’s annual conference. It has been a very difficult and soul searching decision, one I started considering three years ago.
I firmly believe that the DONA certification process benefits new doulas with excellent in-person learning and networking. I would recommend that new doulas attend a DONA training in their area.
I personally greatly appreciate the DONA Standards of Practice and Code Of Ethics, and will continue to use them as guiding principles in my doula work. For some doulas, the need to recertify provides the motivation to obtain continuing education. I personally love conferences and will continue to attend and expand my knowledge and skills regardless.
However, after a decade, I am starting to feel the value of doula certification declining for me. No one has asked me anything about certification in years. It does not seem to be something that clients value. DONA International’s web site is seriously outdated, and their doula referral system is very poorly done. They do not even allow me to link to my best marketing tool – my web site. I always ask anyone who calls me how they found my name. It has been over 5 years since I have had anyone find me from DONA.
I also am disappointed in the direction the organization is going, and I am frustrated that membership has no say in leadership. The organization is set up so that the board nominates and approves all new board members, so only those who agree with the current board can join. It seems that the same few women just rotate positions on the board, and it is difficult for anyone who advocates for a different direction to get to a place where they can make a difference. Over the last few years, DONA has jumped from management company to management company, none of which have been providing good member service. It takes MONTHS to get changes in the web site listings, and often they only responded to calls from a member of the board.
And so, after a dozen years, I have decided to stop supporting DONA International and let my certification go.
I am looking around and considering whether or not I want to certify with another organization. If you notice a different set of certification letters after my name, you’ll know I have decided to go that route.