PALS Doulas Statement on the Validity and Purpose of Certification

PALS Doulas believes that every doula should have unhindered access to the clients who choose to work with them and that in no way should certification or lack thereof ever be used as a barrier to serving clients in any setting or for being paid for service to clients. PALS recognizes both the certified doula designation as a marker of quality and competence and a credential and process borne from a culture of white supremacy that mandates certification as a marker of a person’s validity as a doula.  

PALS affirms that certification is an inherently institutionally racist and classist practice. 

The PALS Certification

As an organization, we are engaged in the ongoing work of dismantling and unlearning white supremacist practices, which includes the development and administration of our Certified Birth Doula credential: CD(PALS). 

The PALS certification is a high-quality, accessible, equitable professional doula certification that verifies doulas’ knowledge and skillsets doulas based on:

  • Mastering the PALS Doulas’ Core Competencies for doulas trained from inclusive pathways
  • There is no single training pathway that can encompass a comprehensive and culturally congruent approach to labor support. PALS honors all pathways to gaining knowledge in supporting families; including classroom or virtual workshops, community-based apprenticeship, ancestral knowledge gained from tribal/community elders and/or acquired knowledge from lived experiences.
  • Adhering to Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics that keep families safe by defining the doula’s scope of practice with recognition and support of Community-Centered doulas work.
  • Recertification that requires annual continuing education from any activity that meets PALS Doulas’ Core Competencies.

Why is this Important to PALS Doulas?

Historically, labor support has been offered and held up as community and family-based practices with deep roots in cultural origins and traditions. The medicalization of birth, the professionalization of labor support, the devolution of honoring cultural and community rituals, and the growth of systemic racism has had devastating impacts on the maternal/fetal health of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.  Culturally congruent pregnancy, birth and postpartum support has proven, demonstrated positive health outcomes for BIPOC families and buffers against health inequities. PALS Doulas strives to create positive change by increasing hospital and reimbursement access for BIPOC doulas. 

Cost has historically been a racist, classist barrier to certification.