Certification for Doulas in Vancouver


UPDATE: Birth Takes a Village is now offering doula training! Click for details.

There are many different options for certification for doulas in Vancouver. Here, I thought I’d explain the differences between some of the different styles of doula training.

As I mentioned in 5 Tips for Selecting A Vancouver Doula, not all doulas in Vancouver choose to become certified. I’m one of them! I completed the DONA International doula training program, but chose not to become certified with the organization. There are a few reasons for this.  For one thing, DONA has a fairly strict scope of practice policy for their doulas, which limits some of what they are allowed to do in their support of women during childbirth. I want to be “allowed” to provide non-medical comfort to labouring women in any way she asks, and personally prefer not to be restricted as much as possible.  Honouring, of course, the fact that I am not a medical care giver, and although I am able to offer support, comfort and tricks of the doula-trade, I would never offer medical advice to a client. 

Secondly, I believe it is normal and natural for women to support other women during birth. Historically, women have always relied on one another to help them manage this intense emotional and physical experience. Our western culture has moved away from that centuries-old tradition and shifted birth information into the hands of professionals. My personal vision is to recreate community-based knowledge around pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, one where women do not HAVE to rely on licensed professionals to provide them with quality support.  Something that is such a natural part of a woman’s life cycle should be understood by the general population, not just by professionals! Because of  this personal philosphy, I feel certification for women supporting other women in birth is unnecessary, and in a way, counterproductive to the direction I would like to see childbirth move.  I also speak about this topic in a previous post, Does Birth Take A Wealthy Village?

I’ve always done much better setting my own course than being part of any type of institution. I thrive on continuous learning, and am bordering on obsessed with reading, learning from other doulas in Vancouver and finding workshops and continuing education about birth in any way that I can. I am also part of a great, community-based group called the Vancouver Doula Network. And of course every birth I attend comes with its own invaluable lessons. I will continue to surround myself with as much education as possible about birth, but I’m content not to have certificates to frame or extra letters to put after my name to prove it!

That being said, I do respect the many doulas in Vancouver who choose to certify. One of the doulas associated with Birth Takes a Village is, in fact a DONA certified doula. If you feel more comfortable using a certified doula for your birth, let us know and I’ll put you in touch with her. You can find information about other doulas associated with Birth Takes A Village here.

I surveyed members of the network of doulas in Vancouver (VDN) I am part of about the types of training or certification they chose. There was a wide variety! Here’s the list of the educational streams doulas in Vancouver  have used:

  • DONA International
  • Birthing From Within
  • Wise Woman Way of Birth Doula Training
  • CAPPA
  • Hypno-Doula
  • Hands-on experience attending births and giving birth themselves!
There are also mentorship programs available for doulas in Vancouver. Further details can be found below.

DONA International

DONA International is a doula training and certification organization. DONA is quite possibly the most internationally recognized institution for doula training, and their program is one of the most easily accessible for doulas in Vancouver. DONA training is offered through Douglas Community College in Vancouver, and is the training I took when first becoming a doula. The instructors, Kathie and Jelena, are amazing, passionate, inspiring women. The training seminar definitely fueled my excitement for attending births as a doula, and  I learned a lot about the stages of labour,  drug-free tools for managing pain during labour, and what medical interventions are sometimes used during birth.

The course includes a 2 day, weekend workshop with a classroom component, and hands-on skills practice. You also are required to complete a reading list, write a position paper, and document the attendance of three births, each evaluated by the mother and care provider.

For information on DONA doula certification in Vancouver, visit the Douglas Community College website.

Wise Woman Way of Birth Doula Training

This course, developed by internationally renowned midwifery educator Gloria Lemay  is offered as either a 4 day intensive or as 4 consecutive Saturdays to train doulas in Vancouver.  Gloria’s model is a particularly holistic model of doula care, and she is well known for being a natural birth advocate. She practiced as a midwife for many years before midwifery became a regulated profession in Canada. She chose not to pursue registration as a midwife under new regulations as she did not feel aligned with the model of practice being promoted under the new model. Gloria is an extremely interesting and knowledgeable woman, and one of my teachers.

At the end of the four day course, there is an examination that needs to be passed in order to achieve certification.

Visit Gloria Lemay’s Doula Training website for course details and dates for doula training in Vancouver.

***Update Summer 2013: I am thrilled to announce that I have taken over instructing Gloria’s Wise Woman Way of Birth doula training program! Please find details here on my website!

Birthing From Within Doula Certification

The Birthing From Within doula program prides itself on being different from other programs because it focuses on the doula, and not simply on teaching the new doula how to support births. The certification program explores the student’s attitude and philosophy about birth, past experiences and goals as a doula. The program includes an introductory workshop and home-study component.

Introductory workshops are occasionally offered here in town for doulas in Vancouver. Visit the Birthing From Within Doula Training page for further info.

Hypno-Doula Training

Hypno-doulas have been trained to support women who’ve chosen to use childbirth hypnosis as a method for coping with labour. If you have taken a prenatal class like Hypnobabies, you will benefit from having a having a hypno-doula, who is familiar with supporting couples who are using specific tools taught in Hypnobabies class.

You can find more information on the Hynobabies website.

Thanks to all the wonderful ladies from the Vancouver Doula Network for sharing with me their own experiences for doula training! If you are a doula in Vancouver and would like to become part of this network, send me an email!

Birth Doula Studies Online via the College of the Rockies

(Added to list May 5/12)

This program was designed with the busy woman in mind who has a passion for birth. Carmen Schultz has been working with childbearing women for close to 2 decades. She wanted to create a program that was inclusive to all women, including women with young families and women in remote areas. What makes this program unique is that you, your fellow students and your instructor work together online and support one another through the entire program.If you choose to obtain a certificate,flexible practicum units are set up and completed by you,within your community where you are encouraged to foster relationships with other birth professionals.

For more information, please contact the Program Director, Carrie Peet, at cpeet@cotr.bc.ca

What do you look for in terms of certification for doulas in Vancouver? Do you believe certification is necessary, or value one educational program over another? Comments welcome below.

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  3 comments for “Certification for Doulas in Vancouver

  1. Carmen
    April 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I love your inclusive site,group and attitude. I took my training/cert through DONA but then later went on to help create an online training program via the College of the Rockies (Birth Doula Studies Online). Its great to see all trainings embraced and women embraced. We are a village. Choice is also essential. Great work!

  2. Louise Fenwick
    February 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks Jessica. I think I have decided to do Gloria Lemay’s in May. I am very excited.

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