Editors note: I became a DONA International certified doula in 2003, and since that time, have seen lots and lots of fellow doulas complete certification. What strikes me about certified doulas, is that they have a real, stick-to-it attitude as they work through the process. It takes grit and commitment to complete each step, and at the end, a doula who’s DONA Certified can proudly proclaim- I DID IT! Today’s blog in the Doula to Doula Series, newly DONA certified doula Samantha King shares some tips for doulas pursuing certification. #DONAProud – Melissa
By: Samantha King, CD(DONA)
You just received the call – you’re officially a DONA certified doula!
Before I dive deeper into that moment, let’s hit the rewind button and bring us back to the very beginning. What brought me to want to pursue birth work? Why DONA International?
For starters, the birth of my second son lit a spark in me that has grown by the day. I was lovingly guided and supported by not only my midwife and assistants but my doula as well. Though much time wasn’t spent with these women due to a fast labor, the impact they left will forever be remembered. The energy was divine; the care, top-notch. I walked away from that experience wanting to provide others what was given to me during one of the most monumental moments of my life.
As for DONA International being my organization of choice, it was a no-brainer. They’re the world’s first, largest and leading doula certifying organization, founded in 1992. In addition, five leading maternal-child health experts stand behind the name. One of the most notable being Penny Simkin, a leader in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. Amazing, right?
The certification process was a lengthy one for me, but I’ve known others to fly by the requirements with ease. After attending a DONA approved workshop (Step one!), I was able to land a couple of births.
Not long after, I became pregnant with my third son and knew it would soon be best for my family and I for me to put birth work on the back burner. Despite not being able to commit to births, I tried to stay on top of the behind-the-scenes work. For me, this meant working on that certification to-do list while my baby napped or when my husband occupied the littles after work. When you’re passionate about something, you find the time.
I recently received that glorious call that all doulas, birth and postpartum, anticipate.
Despite the amount of time it took to check everything off and the moments where I felt discouraged (Hey, starting a business isn’t always the easiest – but it’s worth it!), I DID IT and would do it a million times over. There’s just no stopping you when you’re called to do something.
Here are a few tips if you also happen to find yourself drawn into this wildly, beautiful world of doula work.
1. Draw up a plan – What’s your birth philosophy? Target market? Have you considered a business name or possibly joining one already in existence? What does your certification timeline look like for you and who can you lean on for support (community is everything!)?
2. Get organized – Purchase a binder, folder, etc to keep your certification documents in one place. All the certification requirements are listed in the beginning of the certification packet, and even better, there’s a handy checklist that’s provided at the end. When submitting your certification packet, organization is key. This not only makes it easy to keep track of everything, but it also makes it easy on the person reviewing your packet. Most importantly, keep copies of everything, just in case.
3. Be patient – You may have births lined up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can count on them being your certification births. DONA requires that in order for a birth to qualify, your support must be continuous and given before or at the onset of active labor. As you know, birth is unpredictable (I’ve attended many fast births!) and client’s needs vary. You may not receive the call to assist until your client is well beyond the active phase of labor, but don’t fret, your presence is still much needed and the experience gained is invaluable.
4. Have fun & be gentle with yourself – While in the certification process, you’re really finding who you are as a doula and how you’d like to shape your business. Just like birth, having a plan in place is of great importance, but you must be flexible. Push through obstacles when they arise and shower yourself with grace along the way.
Lastly, always remember that you possess the skills to care for, guide, and support the families you meet along the way. You need no lavish doula bag to do your job well – hands, heart, and knowledge.
Now friends, get out there & make DONA proud!
Samantha King, CD(DONA) is a certified birth doula and bengkung belly wrap artist. She’s a proud wife and mother to three boys and has resided in the Florida Panhandle for nearly 9 years.
She’s passionate about all things birth and empowering women, which has led her to create her business, Blooming Within Birth Services.
Editors note: Samantha is one of our doulas who was impacted by Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle. She submitted this piece before the storm, and I have been in communication with her since. While she and her family are safe, the entire area is devastated. If you are interested in helping with relief efforts for Hurricane Michael, please contact me at mharley@capitalcitydoulaservices, and I can put you in touch with people who are heading local relief efforts. Our prayers are with Samantha, and everyone on the Florida gulf coast…especially our doulas.