Why Doula Certifications Ain't All That and a Bag of Chips...and an Announcement!

Ok, I know that many people who have certifications for doula work are going to not like what I am about to say. 

And thats okay.

Please know that I am not attacking anyone personally nor any one particular certifying body.

This last month I had a doula skills workshop scheduled. Life got crazy and I had to cancel it (that video is coming soon) but when one woman shared it, a few women asked if it would lead to certification.

My response was "no, birth work is for everyone"

And she said something to the effect of "I understand but if you aren't certified here they will throw you to the wolves"

Well then. 

Let me explain what certification in the doula world is. This is true in many unlicensed fields as well.

Certification is just a word used to say you completed a program. I am a certified Madriella doula. Others can say they are a certified DONA doula etc etc.

There is no one body to cover the entire field of doula care. That means there is no standard of education across the board.

And thats okay.

When we try to set national standards, we expose the field to becoming regulated or licensed by the government, which encroaches on our ability to work as needed for the mother. 

One of the problems with doula certification is that many doulas are being loyal to their certifying bodies rather than the mother. If their program said "this is not okay for doulas" (like attending unassisted childbirths or working with lay midwives) they will turn away from a mother. 

That is not okay. If you spend any time researching unassisted childbirths or free births, you will see that they are actually safe. Same with lay midwives. 

Another problem is that people are assuming that if you are certified, you know what you are doing and that you will be a good doula.

This is absurd. Have you ever been to a doctors office and met a doctor who you knew was just a terrible doctor? 

Yeah - and they go through 11 years of college, internship, and residency before becoming a medical doctor (the licensing of which is controlled by the government). 

Yes, there are doulas who are not certified that are not so great doulas but there are certified doulas who are not so great either.

We just feel "safe" and "good" knowing the doula is certified, right?

I went through my doula certification in 2015, the year after my youngest was born. She is my 4th child.

There was no new information for me.

I don't want that to sound like "I knew it all" but after having 4 babies, breastfeeding all of them, experiencing motherhood in the good and the bad - there wasn't anything I hadn't already researched and/or experienced on my own.

I took the tests and ace'd them - only because I needed that piece of paper to make people feel better.

It wasn't until I started midwifery apprenticeship work did I start getting challenged, but a doula is not a midwife.

I joined a radical birth workers group on FB and what I started reading there was blowing my mind.

The people attacking not certified doulas, were other doulas. Attacking. Not mentoring or even trying to get to know the persons experience or education levels.  Lets tear our own world apart and undermine us all, shall we? No, doulas who aren't certified aren't the ones undermining you.

The best way to see if a doula is going to work well for you, is to talk with her. 

Ask her about her experience, ask for references... ask her how she would handle difficult situations in a hospital setting (if you are planning a hospital birth). 


When I meet a client, I do this to them. I ask them questions on their exposure to births, I ask them what they are looking for. I just talk with her....and I listen to how being in her presence affects my body (some people are exceptionally draining and I opt out of working with them for my health).

You don't need a certification for that.

However - every single woman working as a doula (certified or not) should be dedicating to life long learning. Doula work is NOT something you can just pop into and be perfect at is. You will make mistakes. Keep learning. Read what you can get your hands on about birth. Sit with mothers and talk to them about their births. If you have a baby, meditate on your birth with them.

That is how we create doulas.

All that being said -

In September, on the Mabon weekend of 21-23, I will be launching my Sacred Elemental Birth Worker program. The term "birth worker" rather than "doula" is very intentional, despite my past use of the would doula in this post and in last weeks post. That will change as well on the blog.

What this program is designed to do is to teach not only skills birth workers can use for care in pregnancy, labor, deliver, and postpartum but to also be witnesses. To be in awe of the sacredness of birth.

To see birth holistically, individually, and spiritually. 

As the path is finalized within the coming weeks, be sure to pop in to see what it entails. This is NOT an online program. You can do some of the work where you are BUT there are in person requirements down here. 

sacred elemental birth worker

Now I am off to do some studying on the midwifery side! 

You are good and loved friends.