To Certify or Not to Certify?
It’s hard for me to believe that in March I will be approaching the one-year mark of my training! I thought for sure I’d have my births and paperwork completed within the year, be fully-certified and on my way to becoming a well-known face at the hospitals in The Woodlands. As it turns out, my paperwork isn’t complete, I’m contemplating not completing my certification at all, and it’s me who recognizes the nurses at Memorial Hermann, not the other way around!
I read an online conversation the other day amongst a few Houston doulas who were talking about the importance- or unimportance- of being a certified doula. As it turns out, based on that conversation and some further reading, I’m on the fence about whether or not to proceed with my certification. I am the kind of person who likes to follow rules, so being certified means playing by “their” rules- which aren’t all bad, but it could limit my scope of practice to some extent if I were to receive training that wasn’t approved by DONA. On the other hand, being certified provides accountability, and I think some potential clients would like to see that before choosing to hire me.Certification means I’ve paid their dues, completed their forms, and read their books. It doesn’t take into account the unique experiences I’ve had as a doula, the extra workshops I will take (like Spinning Babies in February! Yay!), and the hours upon hours of extra reading I’ve done to learn about birth and babies. Instead it’s a title- a nice title, I think- but simply initials after my name. A title doesn’t always means something.
Of course, my biggest concern is how potential clients will see this. It seems I haven’t had too much trouble finding clients so far, though up until now I’ve been saying I’m “in training-” which is completely true! Well, technically I’m still in the process of certifying, but “in training” doesn’t mean much as I’m not currently attending any DONA training workshops. In retrospect I’m a bit disappointed in my initial training- the only official training required by DONA- which is why I plan to take continuing education workshops and classes. I hope that the more knowledgeable and well-rounded I am, the more likely a client would be willing to hire me.
But, experience matters too. With six births under my belt, so far I’ve experienced two hospital births with epidurals, two waterbirths at a birth center, one med-free hospital birth, one emergency c-section, intrauterine death support, and a single-parent teen birth. Two of those births were on the same day, and each of my clients has wanted/needed varying degrees of physical, informational, and emotional support from me. I’ve provided much-needed support to Dads, met some interesting and some wonderful hospital staff members, made friends with some clients, and have never heard back from others. Each experience has brought something new to the table for me, as I’ve researched for my clients and figured out how I can best support their personal needs.
So what matters? Experience and continuing education, or experience plus the certification? How important will certification be for me in order to attract clients? Given that I have no births scheduled after this month, I’m concerned that my lack of certification is doing me harm! I’d love to hear feedback from other doulas as well as from Moms who have or are considering hiring a doula!