Obtaining those CD(DONA) or PCD(DONA) credentials comes from a combination of training, experience, independent learning and reflection. Doula certification demonstrates proficiency, professionalism and dedication to the field. The documentation of all of the certification steps are collected in the certification packet. The packet contains documents and forms the doula submits once all steps for certification have been completed and is something like a doula thesis project.

Certification packets are reviewed by a team of trained DONA International doula volunteers. They have been through the process themselves, so they know firsthand how important that manila envelope is! One of the birth doula packet reviewers, Julia Schetky, has been posting on the DONA International Facebook group with tips to help ensure your packet is complete and organized so that it can be reviewed and approved quickly. The turnaround time for certification packets has been greatly improved in recent months with new internal processes at DONA International. Receiving complete, organized and legible packets helps keep those packets moving through the review process in a timely manner for everyone.

We’ve summarized some of Julia’s top tips to help your packet sail through the review process. Update: We’re added Part 2 in this series on the essays, resource and reference lists!

Don’t forget! Once you get the call that you’re certified, but sure to post on our social media channels, as we love celebrating our newly certified DONA International doulas!

Tips for Your Doula Certification Packet


Reviewers can’t evaluate what they can’t read! For birth doulas, it’s nearly impossible to complete the Labor Progression Sheet while supporting a client. Simply take notes while you are supporting the client (it can be helpful to keep a blank form in your doula bag so you can remember what to document) then later, after the birth (and a nap!) sit down and complete the form using your notes.

  • Submit only final versions of all documents. No drafts please.
  • Type or print your answers on all forms.
  • Birth doulas, if using a packet purchased after October 15, 2015 write carefully in order to stay within the boxes on the labor documentation form. If absolutely necessary print a second form and make a note that there is a second form. Be sure to label that form with the client’s name and date as well as your name.

Organization & Labeling

Take a moment before you seal that envelope and look at every item in the packet. Can the reviewer tell whose packet each piece belongs to? Is is clear which client each client-related sheet/document is for? Reviewers sometimes spend a lot of time matching client sheets to essays or other parts of the packet as they attempt to put together the full story of the birth or postpartum experience. At times they even need to call the doula and ask which client the information is for.

  • Label ALL items with your full name including essays, resource list and professional references list.
  • Client name and dates on all client related documents (including Labor Progression Sheets and evaluations) and at the top of the essay.


Triple check that you have completed every field and checked every box on each form. If it doesn’t apply, simply add N/A. For example, the details on the Labor Progression Sheet help fill in what you can’t cover in your brief birth essay and are important to help the reviewer better understand what happened at the birth so she can see how you supported the client.

  • Application form: Don’t forget those boxes at the bottom. DONA International membership is required for certification prior to submitting your packet. And yes, you REALLY want to keep a copy of all of your materials just in case.
  • Client sheets, evaluations and essays:  Client name and dates, please!
  • Labor Progression Sheet: Use your notes from the birth to fill in all of the fields of the form including the “Reason” section for all “yes” answers.

Huge thanks to Julia Schetky, CD(DONA) for all her work on the DONA International Certification Committee. We are grateful for her time and dedication in reviewing packets, noting trends that slow down the review process and writing weekly tips for everyone working through the certification process. You can find new tips from Julia each week posted in the DONA International Facebook groups. For additional support, feel free to contact Certification Director Johanna D’Aleo at CertificationDirector@DONA.org.

— Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA), MBA