Economic Privilege and Doula Certification
The quote in the image attached to this article came across my feed the and caused a ripple in my soul… It triggered a memory of a recent conversation. A new doula was asking on FaceBook if anyone wanted a free doula. This apparently was a required component of the new doula’s certification process.
Since the inception of doula certification organizations, the demographic among doulas has been primarily one group; the white woman with economic privilege…
Fortunately, this is changing but in most cases, the process of doula certification which requires financial privilege, is not.
Historically, in order to become a certified doula, newly trained doulas were encouraged to offer their services for free and then they were to ask new parents to evaluate their performance. Attending a minimum of 3 “qualifying births” was, and with many certification organizations still is, a requirement toward certification.
Doulas were instructed to offer their services for free or “low cost” to anyone who would accept them in order to use that person’s birth toward their certification.
This reeks of economic privilege.
In this model, economic privilege is a requirement which either closes the door to those with less privilege, or keeps people in the cycle of poverty.
This is a glaring example of economic privilege.
Those that can not afford to work for free will struggle to complete the certification process. Even though many of these doulas share the lived experiences of those who would most benefit from doula support. Especially those among the BIPoC populations whose birth experiences come with an increased risk of maternal and infant mortality.
Doulas in poverty, stay in poverty…
As more and more people of all demographics are looking to the doula industry as a place to invest their passion in a rewarding and long term career, ProDoula is meeting the market exactly where it is.
ProDoula listens. ProDoula learns. And ProDoula takes action.
This work simply can not be exclusive to those with the privilege of working for free. Creating barriers around privilege limits opportunities and ProDoula will not be a part of holding people of any demographic back.
Through discussions with countless doulas from a variety of training organizations, ProDoula analyzed the common barriers to certification completion. Based on these findings, ProDoula’s certification process and the requirements for completion were restructured to dismantle the common barriers to certification.
ProDoula’s comprehensive certification exam verifies that the doula has learned how to effectively support their clients. That is the true measure of the doula’s capabilities.
In order for doula work to be sustainable, doulas must be paid. As an industry, we must stop perpetuating the idea that this work is exclusive to those with the economic privilege to work without pay.