Pamela Paul's article in the Sunday, March 2 Times ("And the Doula Makes Four") left out key points. One is that it's very easy to find out if a doula is certified, because the agencies such as DONA International that certify doulas offer an on-line listing. DONA and the Coalition for Improved Maternity Services also offer a guide for interviewing doulas. Parents should get current references and contact recent clients of a doula they are considering. Ms. Sacher's comment at the end of the article is most appropriate- parents should be conscientious about selecting a doula as well as a physician. Most doulas will meet for an interview at the parents' convenience, making the process easier still.
Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota have more certified doulas per capita than any city or state in the country, and we have wonderful relationships with medical staff in hospitals around the state. The Childbirth Collective is a Minnesota nonprofit organization of doulas, homebirth and hospital midwives, psychologists specializing in perinatal issues, massage therapists and chiropractors with special certifications related to pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Doulas in Minnesota can register with the state, which confirms their certification and conducts a background check for doulas who are then listed on the Health Department website. Most major metropolitan areas have birth networks that can help with doula selection.
I wish Ms Paul had indicated if the doula who disappointed those parents was certified, and if the parents have contacted her certifying agency with their concerns. That would be most helpful to all doulas and future clients in her area.
Finally, given that our cesarean rate is an astounding 31% and rising nationally, and that our maternal mortality rate is rising in direct proportion, and that our infant mortality rate is worse than most industrialized nations, is it really the 1-2% of doula supported births we should be concerned about?
Susan Lane, CD DONA, LCCE, CLC