About PALS Doulas

PALS Doulas is a membership and certification organization committed to making access to certification sustainable and applicable to the many doulas serving diverse communities in the state of Washington. It’s driving goal is be an inclusive, supportive organization to individuals regardless of gender identification, religion, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. It continues today as a 501(c)6 all-volunteer membership-based organization. Our volunteers are committed to the certification and advancement of the doula profession and to use their skills to create a better community for our local doulas.

30 years and counting!

“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” – John H. Kennell, MD

Mission

PALS Doulas is a welcoming and relevant resource for all birth doulas in the greater Puget Sound region, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. We build community, provide mentorship, and offer educational opportunities to support our members. PALS cultivates a positive view of doulas and increases the community’s awareness of the value of doula support.

Because of our local Washington based status, we encourage all doulas and aspiring doulas to get involved. You don’t even have to be a doula to volunteer! For more information, or to talk to someone about volunteering, contact our Volunteer Coordinator today.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Steve Job

Join PALS Doulas

Board of Directors

PALS Doulas has an all-volunteer Board of Directors. You do not need to be a doula to join our Board of Directors. In fact, having people from a variety of backgrounds helps keep our perspective diverse and flexible. Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator if you are interested in discussing a two-year Board position. Board of Director’s meetings are held monthly from 11am-1pm at various locations to increase accesibility. All members and non-members are invited to attend in person or via Zoom. Please check our events calendar for location details. 

Our 2019 Board of Directors:

If you lay down, the baby will never come out.  – First Nations saying

History

‘New’ research emerged during the late 80’s highlighting the positive impact of ‘labor support companions’ for pregnant and laboring families. Due to this, the Seattle Midwifery School Labor sponsored it’s first Support Course in 1988/89 to formalize training for these new companions who would come to be known as ‘doulas’ . As these individuals began to support families, they also came together to support one another.  The very first newsletter for this new gathering was published in Spring of 1989, the ‘Labor Support News’ out of Penny Simkin’s home office.  In August, after receiving suggestions and putting it to a vote of the newly formed membership, the Pacific Association of Labor Support was born. Within three years, this group blossomed into a registered not-for-profit corporation in Washington State. PALS Doulas were recognized as public health workers by many organizations in the greater Seattle area, and their services were covered through contracts with the state. With the help of its many members and community volunteers, the very first Scope of Practice and Code of Ethics were developed, and organizational goals along with a certification process and apprenticeship program were created. Over the years, other organizations grew out of PALS, some of which included the Northwest Association of Postpartum Support (NAPS) as well as Open Arms Perinatal Support (OAPS). In 1992 our founding president, Annie Kennedy stepped down and became the founding president for DONA (Doulas of North America and later DONA International).

In 1994, PALS held the Warmest Welcome Conference, bringing prominent birth professionals to Seattle from all over the world. This conference was the beginning of PALS supporting its members by bringing leaders in the birth world to The Pacific Northwest, to support and educate our local doulas. In 1998, PALS completed a three-year long restructuring process with a new mission statement, having changed from a not-for-profit organization to a trade organization focused on supporting local doulas. In celebration of PALS’ 10th anniversary, the Penny Simkin Scholarship Program was created in honor of our founder.

Fifteen years after its creation, PALS had ten board members and over 200 member doulas serving families in Washington State. In 2007, PALS co-hosted the First Annual Northwest Doula Conference in Seattle. PALS volunteers continued to pour their creative efforts into the organization. Within the next two years, PALS announced an official name change from PALS to PALS Doulas, and presented a new logo to accompany the name change. The following year, PALS created and implemented a recertification program and began recertifying their doulas. PALS volunteers also created an online referral system that year.

In 2011, members of the PALS Board of Directors created a hospital presentation outlining the value of PALS certified doula support and presented this to various hospitals in the greater Seattle area. This presentation was well received by the facilities to which it was presented, and was a great example of how PALS volunteers fulfilled our mission of promoting the doula profession within our community. This was the beginning of PALS’ Hospital Ambassador Program.

Due to the dedication of some PALS Board of Directors members, cultural competency and awareness within PALS became a huge priority. This resulted in the creation of PALS Ending Racism Committee (PERC, and later renamed the Racial Equity Team) to address not only the inequity in maternity care provided to minorities in this country but also to address the lack of diversity with the PALS organization. PALS Doulas hired an outside consultant to form The Race Equity Tool and educate the board, and later the members, on these important topics.

In 2014, PALS Doulas was struggling financially and suffering from a lack of volunteers. The Board moved to transition from a working board to a governing board, promoting the current office manager to a newly created position of Program Director to take on the work the board was doing. The motion was approved by the membership. This was a short-lived solution, as financial struggles led PALS Doulas to discontinue the Program Director position later that year. This was a challenging time for PALS Doulas and there was a discussion of closing the organization entirely.

The out-going board helped a new board transition in and laid the groundwork for the new board to tackle these monumental challenges. In the first year of transition, the new board revamped the Advanced Doula Training, Monthly Meetings, membership, and certification program. They also hosted the Northwest Doula Conference, and for the first time in years, PALS had the positive cash flow to fund programs and grow.

Today, the PALS Board of Directors consists of ten to twelve members, and continues as an all-volunteer organization. We strive to be transparent and fiscally responsible, prioritizing the needs of our members and the greater birth community, and promoting birth doulas in our local community. PALS is currently working on re-evaluating our Scope of Practice and organizations we accept towards PALS Certification. These are both projects that we hope will continue to move doulas forward as a profession while decreasing barriers and increasing access to certification. 

If you are intersested in participating in PALS or working with us an organization, please contact volunteer@palsdoulas.org