The value of certification status is fiercely debated among birth workers. I often hear people complaining about the time and expense involved with completing doula certification. They often do not see a need to get certified, especially if they are practicing doulas with a steady stream of clients. Here are 4 reasons why certification matters.
“Doula” is an unregulated profession with no state or federal oversight. Anyone can call themselves a doula, even someone with no formal training, education, or experience. Today, consumers have more tools than ever to research who they hire, and it is estimated that 88% of consumers spend time researching before selecting a doula. They often come to interviews asking about advanced training, certifications held, and experience. Being backed by a major certifying organization lends credibility to doulas and assures people seeking doulas that they are hiring a qualified individual.
Doulas are not medical personnel and do not perform medical tasks or make medical decisions for their clients -- at least they shouldn’t. When a doula acts outside of her scope of practice and her client suffers injury, the doula may be found liable for damages. Untrained doulas do not always understand what is within their scope of practice and what is outside of scope. In a quest to make one practice more exotic than the next, an untrained doula may inappropriately use tools and techniques that may harm the client. Quality training by a reputable organization defines what is considered inside and what is outside of the scope of practice. Acting within scope, protects clients and doulas.
Successful completion of training and certification produces more confident practitioners. Doulas who have undergone formal training understand birth from a variety of viewpoints and know how to competently serve individuals and clients. Professionally trained and certified doulas have often received hands-on instruction and are frequently involved in ongoing education.
It’s Worth the Investment
If you aren’t willing to invest in your education and your credentials, why should a consumer invest in you? Ongoing professional development makes you a more skilled doula. When you hold a certification, an organization stands behind you and certifies that you have successfully completed the program and have demonstrated the skills necessary to provide physical and emotional support to the families you serve.
Kira Kimble is a certified doula and doula trainer for Birth Arts International. She travels throughout the country offering doula training as part of Birth Arts International’s Doula Certification Program. To sign up for a doula workshop, visit TrainWithKira.com
If you would like to bring a doula training workshop to your area, email Kira at 4myDoula@gmail.com
Last week, Charlotte was in the path of Hurricane Florence. The whole city was in a panic, preparing to be without electricity for several days or even weeks! I stocked up on non-perishables, made sure we had flashlights and batteries. Then I took a trip to our local library. If we were going to be cooped up without WiFi, I wanted to make sure we had plenty of reading material!
One of the books I picked up was Lady Day and Mister by Amy Novesky. It was an unexpected look at the life of Billie Holiday. My 9-year-old was already familiar with Lady Day and had even dressed up as her during her school's celebration of Black History Month last year. We had only known her as a singer. We did not know about the special relationships she had with her dogs and how they traveled with her. It was fun to get a glimpse of this Hollywood Star and her personal life. It brought Billie Holiday to life and made her relatable.
School is back in session for my kids. It's a pretty low-key event around here, no Facebook pictures or special outfits. We have very normal days now. That's in high contrast to how our days used to be.
Facebook recently reminded me of a disastrous morning we had getting to school a few years ago. We were rushing out the door, as usual. The kids had their breakfast in hand as they piled into the minivan. When we got about 2 miles from our house, my daughter started screaming about a spider crawling on the window. I rolled down the window, hoping it would go out, but it didn't. Fortunately, I had an empty coffee mug in the cup holder from the pervious day. I handed the cup to my daughter so she could smash the spider, but instead, she threw my cup at it! The spider and my mug flew out of the window!
I pulled over and ran to retrieve my mug from the side of the road. When I got back into the car, I told my kids to finish eating their breakfasts. That's when my daughter realized that she had been sitting in her toast and jelly while battling the spider. I handed her a roll of paper towels and kept on pushing, onward to school!
That was a horrendous morning. I don't know when the shift occurred, but we no longer have mornings like that. Those JACK'd up experiences are blurry memories that we can laugh at now, and I share them to let parents know that there is another side. The days are long and hard, but the years really do pass quickly.
One of your very first parenting tasks might be selecting a doctor for your unborn child. I suggest you interview at least 2, and choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. Below is a list of interview questions to ask.
What are your hours? What happens if my baby is sick after hours/weekend? Is there a 24-hour nurse's line?
Are you open on weekends?
Do you offer same-day sick appointments?
Do you have hospital privileges? If so, which hospitals?
What are your views on antibiotic use? Vaccinations? Breastfeeding beyond 1 year? Co-sleeping?
Do you have a lactation consultant on staff?
Questions to ask yourself:
Are there separate waiting rooms for sick and well children?
How did the staff treat you?
Were they receptive to doing an interview?
Did the doctor roll his/her eyes at any of your interview questions?
Were you rushed?
This is the time of year when we hear the ringing of bells among the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. As I have discussed before, shopping with the kids in tow can be an adventure. I think it's that way for most parents. My mother, however, was a master at getting her kids to behave while out in public.
Every year, I am reminded of my mother's greatness when it came to getting her kids to shape up. It was a cold, December evening, and my mother needed to stop by the store on the way home. My sister and I bickered about everything: who got to sit in the front seat, who got to walk next to Mom, what treat we wanted to buy, etc. Then we heard the ringing of bells and saw the red kettle. Curious, I asked my mother what the bells were about. Without hesitation and with a straight face, she said, "That's where you drop off kids who are misbehaving."
My eyes widened and I tightened my grip on mother's arm. My sister and I didn't make a peep. My mother had no issues from either of us and was able to shop in heavenly peace.
Last night, my son and I read Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner. It's a picture book about a child exploring the garden in her backyard through the changing seasons. It describes the types of creepy crawlies found in the dirt such as grubs, crickets and earthworms. It also talks about the changing seasons and what the bugs and plants do as winter approaches.
My active 4-year-old sat intently the whole time, pointing out and naming bugs that he recognized. He made many connections between the book and his life, and remembered seeing and touching many of the insects and flowers described in the book. Now he's on a mission to find the bugs again and match them to the pictures in the book. His excitement about a book brings such joy to me! I love seeing my child excited about learning and engrossed in a book. If your child enjoys outdoor play, this book will be a hit and can be found in Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries.
My track record for back-to-school is riddled with epic failures like the time I accidentally sent my daughter to her first day of school wearing pajamas. The worst may have been Back-To-School 2014. My kids were starting at a new school, and all of us were a little nervous. We had missed the open house and didn't have an opportunity to meet the teachers or see the classrooms. I dropped my children off in the morning car line and watched them walk into their beautiful new school, full of possibilities.
At the end of the day, I picked them up and listened excitedly as they recounted their days. They loved it! I breathed a sigh of relief. When we got home, I began sorting through the mountains of back-to-school papers to be filled out and signed. One of them stood out above all the rest.
As a way for the teacher to get to know her students, my daughter's 4th grade teacher had her students write about their families, favorite foods, favorite colors, and what they wanted to be when they grew up. I smiled as I read about my daughter's favorite food being sushi and her favorite color being yellow. But my jaw hit the ground when I read about her aspiration to dance on a pole! On the back of the paper, in red marker, her teacher wrote a note to me. She said she asked my daughter more about her desire to live in the mountains and to work as a pole dancer. She explained that my daughter meant the Cirque Du Soleil type of pole dancing and not the Club Nikki kind of pole dancing. What a first impression!
Today marks the 8th anniversary of my daughter's birth. It's not very often that I share my personal birth choices, but today I want to share the story of my daughter's birth to highlight the importance of physical and emotional support, the kind of support you receive when you have a doula on your birth team. Emotions and thoughts can affect the birth process. Birth support does indeed make a difference.
I watched my due date come and go. Then another week passed. Every day, my mother would ask me, "Do you think the baby will come today?" I think she could sense how much that question annoyed me so, she stopped asking. I was in Carolina July heat, 900 months pregnant, and done. My parents had been very supportive throughout my pregnancy, but they were a little freaked out by my decision to have an out-of-hospital birth. In spite of their trepidation, they kindly agreed to babysit my other two kids, ages 4 and 1, at my house while I delivered at their house, just over the South Carolina state line.
When I finally started contracting at almost 42 weeks, I felt relieved. I called my parents to tell them that they should plan on babysitting later that day. My father answered the phone and said that since I didn't "look like [I] was close to having the baby,” they decided to take a “little road trip” to Florida. They were 30 miles from the Florida border! They were attempting to sell some real estate in that state and drove down to check on the property. My feelings of relief and excitement were suddenly replaced with disappointment and panic. My husband and I had to find someone else to babysit our kids whom we had never left before. Stressed, my contractions stopped. I was hopeful that I could hold out until my parents got back from Florida. That was, until about 11:00 that night when I suddenly felt a hard contraction. It was so hard and lasted so long that I couldn’t move. Fortunately, the cordless phone was within reach and I was able to call my midwife. She told me that for only the 2nd time in her 16 years of practice, she had 2 moms in labor at the same time and she didn’t know which one of us needed her first. Again, that sense of abandonment started to rise up in me. She assured me that either she or her partner would be there, just keep her posted. My older children were sleeping so my husband and I were able to sneak out when my mother-in-law arrived to babysit.
We called my midwife around 4AM. My contractions were super hard but still 5 minutes apart. She told me that she had just delivered the other baby and would be by my side in about 45 minutes. When I saw my midwife, I immediately felt relief. My contractions were so painful; I didn’t know what to do. I would describe them as sharp rather than hard, as if someone was shoving a knife up my rectum. My midwife asked me to labor on the toilet. I tried and quickly decided I didn’t like that. We tried a birthing stool, on the floor, in the tub, on the bed, on a crib mattress, on a chair, on top of my husband, on a birthing ball. Every contraction invoked the fight or flight response in me, and I definitely wanted to flee. My midwife remained by my side and continued to calmly offer suggestions. I didn't feel abandoned!
I ended up laboring in the garden tub with the jets running. I had been awake all night enduring powerful contractions. I had reached a point of exhaustion and didn't want to be there any longer. I wanted to be home with my babies who were awake and crying for their mother. At one point, I turned the jets off, told my midwife that I just couldn’t do it anymore, and decided I was going to drown myself. Then I slowly slid my head under water. She pulled my head out of the water, propped it up on a towel, and had her partner give me a snack and some water. I made it through another contraction and then my midwife began talking to me in a nurturing voice. She asked me what I was feeling (emotionally). Of course, I denied anything was wrong, but inside all of the feelings of abandonment started coming up. I thought about all the times I needed people and they weren't there. I thought about the saddest times in my life, when I was away at school as a teen and didn't have my parents. All of the past hurts and times I felt like I had to do hard things alone. Everything came to the surface, including things I hadn't thought about in years! My husband got word that my parents had returned from Florida and were with my children. My sadness went away and I noticed a beautiful sunrise through the blinds.
My midwife told me she wanted to check me. I agreed. As soon as she stuck her hand in the water, I screamed. She reached in further and said the head was out. She said she wanted me to push the baby out with the next contraction. When the next contraction came I screamed for 9-1-1, vodka, Cognac, and then my voice turned into that of a demon as I yelled, “GET OUT OF ME!” With that, my baby was born. It had been an incredibly emotional journey for me, but thanks to the support I received from my midwife, I didn't have to walk that journey alone.
My father wrote this essay for Mother's Day 1983.
Mothers are indeed something special, and every Mother’s Day I try to make a trip back home to spend that special day with my mother.
This year, the plans were all set but a myriad of things cropped up at the last minute that prevented me from being in Baltimore.
It seemed awkward not being with my mom on her day, but I used the occasion to reflect on events that happened in my life that made my mother seem extra special.
Growing up in Baltimore was nothing special, yet in a sense it was - because mom always made it seem that way. She constantly impressed up the Pittman kids that they were different - not better, but different.
While we did the normal things that kids do, like play all sports, skate in the street, play cards, stick ball and step ball (Baltimore was noted for its marble steps - you’d get a rubber ball and while one player bounced it off the steps, another would hit it back toward the house).
We had our rules for when we could play and how long. We could never play cards or any type of ball on Sundays, and during the long summer vacations, it was a must that our day include reading a few pages from any book.
It was also a must that we take a nap or just come into the house to spend some time with mom. The other kids in the neighborhood never understood why the Pittmans had to take naps or read books, or why we couldn’t just run aimlessly up and down the alleys. I might add that the Pittman children didn’t understand either.
It was just that mom wanted it that way, and we seldom questioned her reasons. Her favorite line whenever we had the nerve to question was, “You just can’t do what the other kids do because I know what’s best for you.”
I don’t mean to imply that was a tough disciplinarian. In fact, she was just the opposite. She was a caring and loving mom who just knew what she wanted for her children.
Learning By Example
She often talked about her younger days when she grew up in Lumberton, NC and how she graduated as valedictorian from high school. But she never put any pressure on us to perform in school. However, she did manage to raise all honor students, a National Merit Scholarship finalist and a valedictorian.
Mom was always a very pretty lady with long hair, and when we were younger we’d take turns combing and styling it. This was her way of letting us stay close to her, hoping that we’d continue to grow up to emulate her. I think that all the kids would agree that mom knew her role and played it very well.
The family consisted of three boys and a girl, and all the boys had athletic inclinations. My two brothers played baseball and I played football. My father, who was a real sportsman, took credit for this.
While he actively pursued and encouraged our athletic careers, mom never watched any of us play because she feared we’d get hurt or take losing too seriously. I still remember the first time she came to watch me play in college. It was actually the first time she’d come to see any game I played in. I didn’t get into the game until the second half and when I did, I never touched the ball.
I was so disappointed because I never had a chance to show her what her son could do. As a result, I was the last one out of the locker room after the game. But when we got together afterwards, she consoled me only the way a mother can do. She said, “Well, at least you didn’t get hurt. Just think, you still have three more years to show me you can play. Just be patient. You’ll get your turn.”
She was right again. Patience paid off and she watched me perform on many occasions at Penn State. Whenever she was in the stands, it gave me a little more incentive to play well.
Mom never saw me play professionally because she could sense, as only a mother could, the disappointment I was experiencing as a pro player. When I finally decided my playing days were over, she probably experienced a relief that I was never seriously injured during my years of playing.
I’m sure that during the many times you see an athlete say, “Hi Mom” after making a great play on national TV, you wonder why they salute their moms instead of their dads.
Well, I can answer it the only way I know. While all moms are special, moms with children who are athletes are even more special. Mothers keep meals warm because of a late game or practice. They organize car pools and wash and clean uniform after uniform. You can’t even count the physical aches and pains they nurse.
And if, by chance, the team loses because of your error or fumble, mothers just don’t seem to let it bother them. They manage to keep it all in perspective. And I guess for no other reason, my mother has always managed to help me through the years to keep everything in perspective.
Even now, when times get sort of tough, she still manages to find the right solution to make life better.
And even though I didn’t get to see my mother this Mother’s Day, it was quite nice just to take time to reminisce about the things we often take for granted. Somehow, no matter how old children get, mothers never stop being mothers. And for this I am thankful. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Living the JACK'd Life
I am a certified birth doula (BAI) in Charlotte, NC . I provide information and support to pregnant individuals and couples so they can have satisfying and empowering births. I am a married mother of 4 trying to navigate life, unafraid of sharing my truly JACK'd up missteps.