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Why I am #DONA Proud

Jesse Remer, Courtney Everson, and Debra Catlin Presented at DONA International Conference, 2016 in Bellevue, WA

I have been a DONA International approved birth doula trainer for 22 years and just renewed my approval for another 3 years.  I am proud to train for this world renowned organization for many reasons. The foundation of our workshop curriculum is grounded in meeting the psycho-social needs of birthing families, providing continuous companionship that is individualized and therapeutic, supporting physiological birth, and facilitating communication and relationships.


Our standards of professionalism are held high, whether a doula simply wants to help out friends and family when they have children or when the doula wants to build a very rewarding career doing what she/he loves. Developing competency as a doula is reflected in the core training, certification requirements, and continuing education expectations. As a trainer our criteria for approval and re-approval are rigorous, expecting us to remain current and teach from an evidence based perspective.

Fostering Maximum Determination

One of the core concepts that stands out the most with DONA is the emphasis on “fostering maximum determination” for the client’s birth experience. I hear so much about empowering birthing persons, yet few understand that really means that we are in pure service to our client’s needs and choices. It means not projecting our own agenda or judging them for their decisions, as that may create emotional damage in an already challenging task. There are enough people telling them what to do, rather than asking them what they want and need in any given moment on their unique birth journey. We can only provide tools and information for clients to empower themselves through many possible avenues.

Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics

DONA’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics have evolved over the years to address issues that have arisen in the doula world, particularly our Scope of Practice. Further clarifying our role and responsibilities, what we do and don’t do, has helped to protect our model of care so we can focus on those things that make a true difference in the holistic health outcomes of the families we serve, complementing the roles of the other members of the care team.  Teamwork is paramount. I have worked with many other birth professionals and they appreciate how DONA doulas understand ways to effectively support our clients in gathering information to make decisions instead of improperly influencing them. This also protects the families, us, and our profession as well. Because so many doulas also ally other services, it helps to spell out how to offer these in a responsible way and without muddying the waters of what doulas do.

The Business of Doulas

As doulas are becoming more utilized, and even being integrated into maternity care, a dream since the very beginning, DONA has responded to the need to assist newly trained doulas in building their business practices as well as their knowledge and skills. Other training organizations have surfaced in the last few years, some emphasizing the financial aspects more strongly. I believe DONA provides the best of both worlds. DONA has equipped us as instructors with more business tools to pass on to our trainees and there are more resources available to the new doulas as well.

We have come a long way since the doula movement started and it is not far off the horizon to think that before long DONA’s vision of “A Doula for every birthing person who wants one,” will be realized, especially now that the health care system is recognizing our benefit and is investing in programs that finance doula support for our families most in need of doula care.

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