Bloggers unite at DONA/Lamaze Confluence!


doula blogDay one of the 2014 Lamaze International/DONA International joint conference is in the books!  It’s been a great time for learning and connection with so much more to come. I connected with Lamaze blog community managers Sharon Muza and Cara Terreri for a chat (and of course a quick pic)!  Left to right: Cara, Sharon and me.

Follow along with the confluence via social media. We’re using #lamazedona on both Twitter and Facebook to share what’s happening in Kansas City.

– Adrianne Gordon, MBA, CD(DONA), DONA International Blog Manager


Aren’t joining us in Kansas City? You can still earn those contact hours!

While it would be wonderful if every DONA International member could attend the annual conference, given our commitments to clients, families, and budgets, it isn’t possible. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t earn the continuing education contact hours for recertification. You can join the conference right from your own home via the Virtual Conference. Join two, three, five, or eight sessions of the joint Confluence with Lamaze International without leaving home. You can see the package options on the 2014 Joint Confluence Website (link).
Don’t forget about those alternative contact hour options, as well. The DONA Doula Chronicles posted a series this summer on alternative contact hour options for both birth and postpartum doulas. Check out these posts for over a dozen ways to earn contact hours – many of which require very little financial investment:

Ode to Alternative Contact Hours

Teaching & Sharing

Reading, Writing & Research

Audio, Video & Online


Paternal Postpartum Depression

paternal postpartum depressionDid you catch the first word in the title? Yes, that’s paternal, as in dads. We don’t often see the words paternal and postpartum together, and you may not have heard the term “paternal postpartum depression” before at all. Postpartum depression is a topic that we associate with new mothers. In fact, the very definition is depression in a woman after she has given birth. But what about new fathers? Feelings of irritability, guilt, anxiety, isolation and sadness, loss of energy or changes in appetite are not yet as widely recognized as cause for concern in a man after the addition of a baby to the family as they are for the new mother. Yet paternal postpartum depression is a very real issue and “is currently underscreened, underdiagnosed, and undertreated” according to a 2012 article in the Journal of PediatricHealth Care aimed at helping care providers recognize and treat the condition.

It is estimated that 5-10% of new fathers experience depression within the first year after birth. While it is not as well known as maternal postpartum depression, the effects of depression in new fathers has been well researched and is an important issue for doulas to know about as we evaluate how well the family as a whole is coping following the addition of a new baby.

Paternal postpartum depression has been associated with reduced bonding with the new baby, similar to what is seen in depressed postpartum mothers. Research has also found that paternal postpartum depression is associated with increased spanking by fathers and increased diagnoses of emotional issues, hyperactivity disorders and social problems in the child at age seven years.
The risk of paternal postpartum depression increases when the mother is already experiencing depression. Depression in both parents in the postpartum year is linked to babies who are less likely to be breastfeed and less likely to be put to sleep on their backs. Later vocabulary development in the child has also been associated with dual postpartum depression.

Clearly parental postpartum depression, whether in mothers, fathers or both parents, has strong impacts on the family overall. What can we do as doulas to address this important issue while staying within our scope of practice? Share information with your clients about maternal and paternal postpartum depression including evidence based sources on symptoms and risk factors. Provide families with resources in your community should the need arise or they request it.
If you have any resources to share on paternal postpartum depression, please share them in the comments or with the DONA doula community on our Facebook page:

A Longitudinal Study of Paternal Mental Health During Transition to Fatherhood As Young Adults, Pediatrics

Medline Plus: Postpartum Depression

Paternal Postpartum Depression: What Health Care Providers Should Know, Journal of Pediatric Health Care

DONA Postpartum Doulas FAQ

- Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA), MBA

photo credit: absolut xman via photopin cc

New Member Center from DONA International!

large__8385599034Wondering when your DONA membership renews? When your certification or certification packet expires? Moved or changed your email address? The new DONA International Member Center can help! This new portal allows members to access membership and certification dates and update contact information. Certified doulas can now also a add a photo, bio, and website to their member directory listing. Accessing the DONA Boutique for membership or certification purchases is really easy from the Member Center, as well. It’s also mobile friendly – great for us busy doulas!

If you haven’t receive an email with your log-in information, please reach out to the Home Office at and provide your full name, city, and state. They will get you set-up and ready to go. Enjoy!

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

DONA International Annual Update Now Available

An organization with over 6,000 members in 50 countries always has a lot going on and DONA International is no different. Eighteen months after moving the Home Office to Chicago, DONA International released its first Annual Update to members last month. Much like an annual report, the Annual Update gives an overview of where the organization is and what has been accomplished recently. Here are some highlights:

New mission statement adopted earlier this year:
DONA International’s mission is to promote high quality birth and postpartum support by setting the standard for the doula profession through evidence-based training and certification for doulas of diverse backgrounds.

New strategic goals to guide the organization’s efforts:
1. Remain the premier organization world-wide for evidence-based doula training, certification and continuing education

2. Increase the use of doulas worldwide through the promotion and advancement of the doula profession

3. Build and maintain a sustainable foundation for DONA International members

4. Be a valued source of information on the benefits of doula care

More than 10,000 birth and postpartum doulas have achieved DONA International certification.

Updated brochures and position papers available in the DONA Boutique including “Dads, Partners & Doulas.”

About the new mission statement and the future direction of DONA International, Executive Director Cynthia Keillor said, “We exist to serve our members by providing education, resources, and promotion of the doula profession. We look forward to continuing to evolve and grow in our services to our member birth and postpartum support professionals just as they evolve and grow to support the families they serve.”

The full Annual Update can be found at:

- Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA), MBA

Making the Right Referral When You Aren’t the Right Doula

You’ve likely had the experience of meeting families during interviews who you can’t optimally serve. When you aren’t the right doula; it’s time to make a great referral to the doula who is a better fit.

Why it’s important to make great referrals.

1. It’s part of our code of ethics. We have an obligation to serve: “The doula should assist each client seeking birth doula support either by providing services or making appropriate referrals.”

2. Making good referrals is key to getting good referrals.

So how do you do it?

First, you have to know your birth doula tipsbirth community. That means showing up to community meetings and gatherings and staying connected, in-person, with the working professionals in your area. Online groups and social media are great augmentations to, but can never replace, face-to-face, in-person gatherings and meetings. Make your local doula community a priority by attending and organizing get-togethers.

Second, find out who in your community serves the populations, personalities and special circumstances that you cannot. It’s as simple as asking other doulas during those gatherings. Find out why the doula enjoys serving that group/place/special circumstance and what she offers. Be curious about your fellow birth professionals, what they do and how they do it. Keep their contact information and availability current in your referral list.

Third, when you make the referral, let both the family and doula know that you are making the referral. The family will appreciate your thoughtfulness and the doula receiving the referral will appreciate the heads-up. Always provide accurate contact information.

Making great referrals feels good. It’s a true reflection of the doula spirit that we all try to live every day and another great way we doula each other.

- Kim James, BDT(DONA), ICCE, LCCE

photo credit: the Italian voice via photopin cc

Early Registration for 2014 Conference Ends Soon!

Register now and save $100 on the DONA International/Lamaze International 2014 Confluence in Kansas City, MO. Discounts are also available on pre-conference events, including birth and postpartum doula training workshops as well as advanced workshops for doulas and nurses (open to anyone). But hurry, early registration ends July 31!

The full schedule of sessions, including keynote speakers and concurrent sessions, is available at the confluence website: This year there are four tracks: Evidenced Based Teaching and Practice, New and Emerging Research in the Field of Childbearing, Using Technology and Innovation to Reach Childbearing Women, and Supporting the Needs of Childbirth Professionals.

I can’t wait to see you all in Kansas City!

– Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA), MBA


Medicaid Now Covering Birth Doulas in Oregon

Doulas who have been registered on the Traditional Healthcare Worker Registry can now have their services reimbursed by Medicaid. The registration process requires both an application and background check. This is a huge development for bringing doula services to every family that desires labor support. Oregon’s move to support doula services follows research that found that doula supported births had lower cesarean section and pre-term birth rates.

A study published early last year in the American Journal of Public Health connected birth doula services to both improved outcomes and lowered costs for Medicaid recipients.

Results: The cesarean rate was 22.3% among doula-supported births and 31.5% among Medicaid beneficiaries nationally. The corresponding preterm birth rates were 6.1% and 7.3%, respectively. After control for clinical and sociodemographic factors, odds of cesarean delivery were 40.9% lower for doula-supported births (adjusted odds ratio = 0.59; P<.001). Potential cost savings to Medicaid programs associated with such cesarean rate reductions are substantial, but depend on states’ reimbursement rates, birth volume, and current cesarean rates.

Conclusions: State Medicaid programs should consider offering coverage for birth doulas to realize potential cost savings associated with reduced cesarean rates.

Thanks to Eva Bild, DONA International Western Canada Regional Director for sharing this information!

Source: “Doula Care, Birth Outcomes, and Costs Among Medicaid Beneficiaries” Am J Public Health, Feb. 2013

Ode to Alternative Contact Hours – Audio, Video & Online Options

Just like self-study via books or articles provides valuable learning, audio and online education can expand knowledge and enhance skills. The fourth post in The DONA Doula Chronicles series on Alternative Contact Hour options for recertification focuses on recorded sources of information. See our previous posts on Events, Reading, Writing, & Research and Teaching & Sharing for more ways to learn and grow as a DONA International doula.

Listen to a Conference General Session – Audio recordings of general sessions from past DONA International conferences are available from the website. The session must have taken place during your recertification period and have been purchased from either DONA International or the recording contractor. An essay about the session is required and each session provides one contact hour. (Alternative A-4)

Watch a Film – Just as our book libraries are often full, we doulas often also have a substantial film collection as well. A film or documentary related to the childbearing year produced by an organization recognized in the field can provide great insight and information impacting how we serve clients. You movie buffs can obtain up to five alternative contact hours per certification period. Grab some popcorn, take notes and enjoy the show! (Alternative A-5)

Online courses – DONA International has partnered with Evidenced Based Birth to offer continuing education contact hours (no Alternative form to complete!) for two courses:
Friedman’s Curve and Failure to Progress” provides 2 contact hours
Evidence-Based Care for Suspected Big Babies” provides 1.8 contact hours
In addition to research based up-to-date information, taking these courses also supports DONA International because Evidenced Based Birth is donating part of the registration fee back to DONA. Use the links above, no coupon code needed.

The full list and detailed descriptions of alternative options can be found on the DONA International website:

Birth doula recertification:

Postpartum doula recertification:

Ode to Alternative Contact Hours – Teaching & Sharing

Teaching is learningDoulas by nature are teachers. We educate our clients and, often, our communities too. These Alternative Contact Hour options for recertification capture the opportunities we have to learn and share about the role and benefits of doulas as well as topics relevant to our services. While most consider observing a midwife or doctor a learning experience, we know doulas are using those encounters to share about doulas too! We’ve outlined what teaching and sharing experiences can be counted for Alternative Contact Hours for DONA International recertification. In most cases, someone else will need to verify your activity, so be sure to check the Recertification Alternatives to Continuing Education on the DONA International website for all the details.

Presentation About Doulas – Many doulas, as part of their efforts to educate their communities about doulas, give presentations to parenting groups, the staff of hospitals and birth centers, as well as other doulas. Not only do these help spread the word about doulas and the work we do, but they require that we provide updated information and research — in other words, keeping up our own education! Each presentation/discussion session lasting an hour counts as one contact hour. You can count up to three per recertification period. (Alternative Option A-1)

Create an Approved Workshop – If continuing education events in your area are few and far between, why not develop your own and have it approved for DONA International contact hours? The investment in the research and curriculum development enhances your own continuing education to the tune of three contact hours for every contact hour approved for the presentation. (Alternative Option A-8)

Observe Another Professional – Four or more hours shadowing a midwife, doctor, lactation consultant, or certified doula working with clients can provide a wealth of information and resources for doulas, both new and experienced. This is a great way to network with perinatal professionals, particularly for doulas who have recently relocated. Up to four contact hours can be earned through this alternative. (Alternative Option B-2)

Mentor a New Doula – A certified doula can act as a preceptor to a DONA-trained, but not yet certified doula. This arrangement provides valuable observation experience for the new doula as she shadows an experienced doula offering labor support to her own client and is a strong manifestation of DONA International’s mission. Up to 10 contact hours are available to the preceptor doula toward the recertification requirement. (Alternative Option B-3)

Lead a Support Group Meeting - Doulas can provide very valuable information and resources to support groups. Research and develop a presentation on a topic, provide a 20 minute presentation and facilitate a short discussion afterward to a support group related to the childbearing year. Write a brief statement on how this experience assists your practice and have one participant sign the required form to earn one contact hour for each one hour meeting. Supporting families in this way can earn a recertifying doula up to five contact hours total. (Alternative Option B-6)

The full list of Alternative Options is available here:
Birth doula recertification:
Postpartum doula recertification:

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