The Doula's Credentials
Doulas are trained by Doulas of North America (DONA), Lamaze International (with DONA-approved trainers), the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE), the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), Birthing From Within and Birth Works.
DONA, ALACE, ICEA and Birth Works also certify doulas, which ensures that they have achieved at least a minimal level of competence. In some parts of North America, there are also local associations that train and certify doulas. Certification of doulas, however, is a relatively new phenomenon, which means there are many excellent doulas who aren't certified.
Doulas usually share call or have a backup doula to cover for them. You should become acquainted with the backup doula as well as your primary doula.
There are benefits for both the mother and her partner when a doula is part of the labor and birth team, especially when you take the time to get to know your doula and feel comfortable with her before labor begins.