difference between various doula certification programs?

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Hi, I am interested in becoming a birth and/or postpartum doula. I am overwhelmed with the info from the various cerifying organizations. What are the differences/positives/negatives of these organizations and their programs? ICEA DONA ALACE Birthworks ---and are there more I don't even know about yet? I am thinking mainly of support for their trainees, philosophy and what their workshops are actually like. Obviously availability is a factor--I am in Maine, and it seems like DONA has the most accessible workshops for me. (Cost isn't the major consideration for me.)

I am interested--What are YOUR experiences of them? Thanks1

-- Virginia Bobro (vbobro@yahoo.com), February 07, 2002


Hi Virginia! My experience is with DONA. The training that I had was 2 full Saturdays, 2 full Sundays, and one Friday evening. The first weekend covered things just like a childbirth prep class would. The second weekend talked more about how to support women, massage, talking, how to establish a doula business, area resources, positions, breastfeeding help, doula bags, etc. I enjoyed the training and I had a really good teacher. The class size was small so it was very comfortable with asking questions and interacting with each other. I've always gotten the impression that DONA recognizes every doula whether or not they are certified and no matter how much experience you've had. Some doulas after they get done with their trainings kind of tag along with more experienced doulas to get the hand of things but I didn't have anyone to shadow so I just jumped in by myself to learn the ropes. Members of DONA get a newsletter like 4 times a year with advice on how to certify, commonly asked questions, examples of things that other doulas have done, and good books to read. I keep all of my newsletters because they are full of good information that has really helped me to establish as a doula. There are some rules that come along with DONA doulas once you become certified. You are not suppose to give any medical advice including advice on herbs and essential oils. They really recommend that we don't even use any essential oils at all because of how dangerous they can be but you can use them in professionally prepared massage oils/lotions and with aromatherapy with cotton balls soaked in the oil and put in a hot bowl of water. You're also required to practice with a backup doula just in case you can't make it to a birth. To meet the requirements to become a doula you have to attend 3 births (only one can be a c-section) and keep really detailed records of what interventions were used, etc. You also have to write summaries of the births and get evaluations from the family and the midwife and/or doctor/nurse. They also have a required reading list which includes some Penny Simkin books. Um, I can't think of anything else right now but I hope that helps a little.

-- Emily (emilyavalon@hotmail.com), February 07, 2002.

Hi Virginia! My name is Cindy. I just recently attended a Doula workshop through DONA. The workshop was truly a rewarding experience. I really learned a lot about myself and birthing women. I recently had to make the decision that you are having to make. There are so many organizations out there that offer doula certification. It all can be very overwhelming. I chose DONA for many reasons. I really loved the idea that DONA works specifically to train and certify doula's only. It also helped to learn that the founders of DONA have been leaders in the childbirth field for years, and have wrote and published numurous studies and reports on the contribution of doula's in maternity care. I hope that you will decide to go with DONA it is a great organization. Regardless of which organization you decide, congratulations on your decision to become a doula. May your journey bring you as much joy as mine has brought to me.

-- Cindy Simpson (CindyASimpson@aol.com), May 04, 2002.

Hi Virginia,

I have spent many years wondering very much the same thing... what is the difference between all of the organisations?

Effectively, there is one common similarity: we all believe that each woman has the right to the birth that she chooses. However, within each organisation, there are small differences, like in phiosophy or in price.

I've looked at more course contents than I can tell you and all I can say is that they *all* have merits. The issue tends not be with the organisation you choose, but rather with the individual instructor.

I'm a CAPPA doula trainer and I had to go through rigorous examinations to earn this status. Ultimately, I chose to go with CAPPA because it most closely mirrored my beliefs and my own philosophy.

You can take a look at my webpage and take a look. I have a few charts there to help you learn more about the doula trainings. They are local, for British Columbia, but even if you travel beyond the borders of BC, the doula course content isn't going to vary significantly.

Also, take a look at your options. If you really find an instructor who seems to have a similar belief, most trainers will travel to teach a workshop, and will usually let the person who organises it attend for free.

I hope this helps get you started.


-- Charlotte Millington (director@birth.bc.ca), August 21, 2002.

I don't know if anyone is still following this thread, but if youo are, I jut found this great site comparing basic information about the different groups. I love it!!! http://www.mother-care.ca/CDchart.html

Blessed Be Rhie

-- Rhiannon (MidwifRhie@AOL.com), September 16, 2002.

Personally, I found the philosophy of DONA to be more obedient of medical policies than that of ALACE. I chose ALACE since I fall on the side of a very independent minded doula who wants her clients to always have all possible info available to them. I also offer perineal compresses which DONA would consider 'clinical' and so it is not allowed.

ALACE has a great trainer named Therese.

On the other hand, DONA definitely gets THE MOST recognizion in articles and at hospitals (in the Baltimore area at least) and I've only gotten 2 client referrals from ALACE in the entire past year. With DONA, you may get more referrals though you may be being shopped against a much larger pool of doulas. -Barbara

-- Barbara Stratton (WomanCareDoula@aol.com), September 26, 2002.

I've been shopping around for this self-same thing, in fact that's why I visited this sight. But so far I'm leaning towards Childbirth International. It takes a little longer because the courses are distance ed and you can go at your own pace. But I find their course outlines seem to be very thorough, there's seems to be plenty of support, and they really seemed concerned about the birthing woman vs. medical staff. For example, they require evals from only the birthing mothers, not the birth attendant. That tells me that in their minds it's just the mother that counts, not how convenient you are to medical staff. With this in mind, I would feel much more comfortable supporting a woman to birth according to what she wants to do even in the face of a doctor wishing to speed up labor or whatever for his/her convenience. The price is very competitive also. They also offer a discounted price if you want to train to be both Doula and Childbirth Educator. I like distance ed, personally, I find that I learn a lot more with it than attending just two weekends of intensive study. And I can go at my own pace. But, I'm still shopping around. Childbirth International is definately not well known, but so far it seems to offer the best quality for the best price (they are based in Singapore, may be that's why their price is so competetive). Happy hunting!

-- Amber Prince (amberrprince@yahoo.com), December 14, 2003.

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