By Jenn Fontaine


One of the most common questions I get as a DONA Approved birth doula trainer and a birth doula certification packet reviewer is: “I am a certified birth doula through DONA International, how do I properly show my credentials?

It may surprise some people, but this very question is part of the Self-Assessment test that every birth doula answers when they are submitting their paperwork for certification. Yet, it is something that is often displayed incorrectly and with inappropriate creative license. Both birth and postpartum doulas spend years working hard to earn their credentials and they should be used and displayed both with pride and in the correct format.

DONA International is one of the longest standing and widely respected doula organizations in the world. The organization’s certification process is fair, thorough and comprehensive. Earning birth or postpartum certification from DONA International demonstrates your commitment to the profession. While consumers may not be aware of all the effort that went into earning those credentials, research has shown that DONA certified doulas receive the most referrals and demand the highest fees. (DoulaMatch post)

Additionally, having the DONA International credentials after one’s name informs families using doulas that this doula abides by DONA International’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and allows for an ethics claim process that mediates any conflicts that may be raised by consumers, peers or health care providers.

Proper display of credentials

It is important to use and display the credentials appropriately and avoid some of the common mistakes that are often made.  You can find the proper credentials for all the certifications and advanced certifications on the DONA International Standardized Credential Formats document. This document informs all the possible combinations of credentials, certifications, advanced credentials and clarifies how they should be displayed, including if more than one applies. Consistently amongst all DONA members using these credentials should be one of the top goals.

Here are some of the very basics, with all the comprehensive details in the above linked document.

CD – certified birth doula

PCD – postpartum certified doula

Adv. before CD or PCD – approved as an Advanced Doula

BDT – Birth Doula Trainer

PDT – Postpartum Doula Trainer

After each of the above it is followed up with (DONA). The word DONA is always capitalized and there is no space between the last letter of the certification and the “(“.

CD(DONA) – Certified birth doula

PCD(DONA) – Postpartum certified doula

AdvCD(DONA) – Advanced birth doula distinction

AdvPCD(DONA) – Advanced postpartum doula distinction

BDT(DONA) – Birth doula trainer

PDT(DONA) – Postpartum doula trainer

CD/PCD(DONA) – Certified birth and postpartum doula

These are the most common credentials but all the combinations of certifications and designations can be found on the official document linked above.

When can you begin using your credentials

You can begin using the appropriate credentials on your website, contracts, business cards and marketing materials after it has been earned and you receive the notice from DONA International that you have been awarded the credential.  

If you do not maintain certification and membership with DONA International, you can not continue to use the credentials after your certification and/or membership expire. If you have done the work to be certified, you know how much time and energy goes into completing that task and so it is important that only those who are currently certified and have maintained the certification with membership retain the credentials after their names.

Take a moment and compare everywhere you display your credentials (website, business cards, printed marketing material, email signature, directory listings and more) with the Standardized Credential Formats to be sure you are correctly using them.  If your situation is not found on the linked document, please reach out to our Certification Director, Diana Zacharin to clarify what you should be doing. Your hard work and efforts to achieve these credentials is honored and recognized as an important achievement and should be displayed properly to tell the world you are a DONA International certified doula!

About Jenn Fontaine

Jenn Fontaine, LCCEW, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), PCD(DONA) CLC, WSGB Instructor, has been supporting the families of Winnipeg as a birth doula and childbirth educator since 2002. During that time, Jenn has attended several hundred births and taught more than a thousand new families. Jenn is the co-owner and doula trainer at Birth Roots Doula Collective Inc.

In 2016, Jenn received the honor of being inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators. This was a fitting recognition of Jenn’s significant contribution to childbirth education and her promotion of safe and healthy birth through evidenced-based practice.

Jenn loves introducing people to becoming a doula and/or childbirth educator, and successfully launched the I.T.S. Birth accredited Lamaze Training Program in 2016. Jenn is an in-demand workshop facilitator, both online and in-person, and has traveled all over the world to train new doulas and childbirth educators, offering her own personal brand of support as they successfully launch their own careers.

Jenn currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with her husband, Marc, her four amazing kids and two drooling bulldogs: Scarlett and George. She is undergoing treatment for her coffee addiction but there are doubts as to its success. You can reach Jenn through her website.