DNFW represents a variety of doulas, from a variety of certifying bodies and training backgrounds.  We recognize the unique contribution of each individual, and the need for a unified understanding of our role within the birth and/or postpartum team.  The DNFW Standards of Practice has been adapted from DONA International’s Standards of Practice to reflect the needs of local doulas from a variety of training/certifying backgrounds.


1.       SCOPE

A.      Services Rendered

The doula’s role spans from prenatal to early postpartum emotional and physical support. 

Birth doulas will accompany the birthing family and provide appropriate emotional support.  While the doula does not make medical decisions, she will assist the family in obtaining the information they need to make informed decisions.  Ideally, the doula will have an opportunity to meet with the family prenatally to become acquainted and to help the family plan and prepare for their birth.  The doula will provide physical and emotional support during the early postpartum time, and ensure that the family is connected with any additional services they may need or want.  It is the responsibility of the doula to be clear to the family about her role at the birth.

Postpartum doulas will provide support for families during the postpartum time frame.  Doulas will provide assistance with emotional and/or physical recovery after birth, household tasks, meal preparation, cleaning, newborn care, sibling adjustment, and other tasks as they align with the needs of the family and the scope of the doula.

B.      Limits to Practice

Doulas are not medical professionals.  Doulas do not perform medical assessments (including but not limited to: vaginal exams, fetal heart tones, blood pressure checks, taking newborn temperatures, examining the newborn, etc.), or provide medical advice.  Doulas do help the birthing or postpartum family gain the information, through medical professionals or credible sources, to help the family make their own decisions.  Doulas who are also health care professionals and choose to offer medical services must call themselves by something other than “doula” and practice within the scope and standards of their health care profession.

C.      Advocacy

A doula is an advocate for the birthing or postpartum family.  A doula advocates by assisting the family to gain clear and relevant information from credible sources, by encouraging the family to ask questions of their care provider(s), and by facilitating and encouraging positive relationships between the family and the care provider(s).  The doula does not advocate by speaking for or instead of the client, or by making medical decisions for the family.

D.     Referrals

Situations may arise in which the family has needs beyond the doula’s scope of practice, or in which the doula is not a good fit for the family.  In these cases, the doula will provide appropriate referrals to the family.



It is the responsibility of the doula to provide access to adequate back-up services should she not be able to attend to the family or should she feel the need to discontinue services to the family.  The doula may accomplish this by: securing an appropriate back-up doula; providing adequate referrals for the family to select a back-up or new doula; and/or following up with the family to ensure that the back-up or new doula is meeting their needs.



A.      Training

Doulas will complete the training required by their certifying body, or adequate self-study to prepare them to meet the needs of families in our community.  Doulas will additionally keep themselves current on research and information pertaining to the family.

B.      Experience

Doulas will complete the experiential requirements of their certifying body, or adequate experience to meet the needs of the families in our community.

C.      Maintenance of Certification

DNFW does not require member doulas to be certified.  We do, however, ask that if a doula chooses to become certified she remain in good standing with her certifying body.  DNFW further asks all doulas, regardless of certification status, to remain up to date on current research pertinent to the scope of the doula.