What is a Baby Loss Family Advisor™? How is it different from a Baby Loss Doula® or Bereavement Doula™?
Our Baby Loss Family Advisors™ and Baby Loss Doulas® are compassionate navigators who can support bereaved parents and families soon after hearing the news and through the process of meeting and saying goodbye to their baby. They also can help after discharge, offering referrals, resources, and direct support. Postpartum and subsequent care are other services that our Baby Loss Family Advisors™ and Baby Loss Doulas® are invited to be trained to offer. A major goal is to help parents be as independent as possible, while recognizing that they may need specific guidance and care, due to shock and lack of preparation/awareness. Parents and their families, need well-informed help to understand options, decisions, consequences, stories of others, and resources. They get no 'do-overs' so the care they receive must be the BEST!
When we originally started this program, we called our Independent certified care givers 'Baby Loss Doulas' with BLD after their name. We have decided to keep that title and offer it to be used by Doulas** who wish to add perinatal loss to their training. All others who become certified are invited to receive a BLFA instead. Basically, the training and readings are the same, though some of the other requirements are different, given the birth experiences that Doulas already have. Other names (and certification programs) that are protected by our ® include, but are not limited to Bereavement Doula, Stillbirth Doula, Miscarriage Doulas Grief Doula, Perinatal Loss Doula, Postpartum Loss Doula, and Subsequent Pregnancy Doula. Some of our Independent Loss Advisors/Loss Doulas choose to use a different title such as Care Companion, Perinatal Hospice Liaison, Miscarriage Navigator, and other related options. This is encouraged; determine what title is best for you and what is most appropriate for your community.
** Doulas, are birth professionals who care for mothers-to-be, acting as a servant and support to mothers and couples prior to, during labor and birth, and afterwards. We invite all Doulas who wish to be truly helpful to those who have a baby die, to become certified as a Baby Loss Doula® . They may use any of the 'loss' Doula titles once certified. Another option is to take the full training course (and read the 3 required books Empty Arms, The Birth Partner, and Companioning After a Loss). We call that auditing the training.
What do they specifically do for families?
Parents will be offered compassionate care that aids them in navigating the news and the days ahead. Loss Advisors™/Loss Doulas® have either personal or professional experience (or both) with baby loss. They know enough about the journey to be a gentle guide with an awareness of the resources and what is ahead. They will either call, text, or email depending upon the parents' needs and circumstances. If local, they may be able to meet in person. A list of basic services for families can be found on the Parent Services page.
Can they give medical advice?
No. Loss Advisors™/Loss Doulas® are asked not to give specific medical advice. They share stories of others, give resources, and offer suggestions for conversations parents may wish to have with their provider.
Do clinics and hospitals recognize the certification?
Hospital staff who have examined our training manual and our intensive process of certification have told us they are impressed. Like most other certifications, there is no body that officially recognizes certifications. It is up to all of us who know the program and become certified to show our professionalism and share the intensive process candidates go through to become certified. Penny Simpkin, an early supporter of this program has suggested that it with years of work in this field, "If anyone is to do this, Sherokee, it should be you." Sherokee took that seriously and helped create a rigorous and thorough certification program.
As our Certified Loss Advisors™/Loss Doulas® continue to do good work, and as each share the details of the program and the Course Manual, we are finding more acceptance. It takes time for a new standard of care to grow, but it is and it will.
Who can be certified? Who can take the training?
Anyone who has a passion for helping the bereaved and feels and shows that they are in a healthy place to help others is invited to take the class as an audit or work on becoming certified (there are applications, references, and in person meet-ups required to meet this requirement). We want all parents to receive the best care possible, therefore our people need to be personally and professionally ready to enter this sacred space and give compassionate and wise guidance/advice.
Can I take the course even if I don't want to become certified? What will I learn if I take the course?
If you are not yet ready to commit to become certified, you may take the course. We call that auditing the course. You will still need to read the three pre-class books (for a charge of $45) prior to attending the course. We find that many birth professionals want to become better trained and aware of how to help clients and patients. This is a perfect way to do so. With our emphasis on practical, hands-on course work, well selected books and booklets to read, and our excellent trainers, you will add tools and skills that will help you be more confident and prepared to help when needed.
What is required prior to, during and after training?
Without listing all the specifics here (the Roadmap under Certification lays out the basic blue print), visit that page to learn the steps.
Is there support after the training and certification?
We have a private Facebook group for communication of information, seeking support, and sharing stories in a confidential manner. Soon we will hold periodic conference calls as another important touch point. This website will have a blog for sharing - all candidates and certified Loss Advisors™ /Loss Doulas® are invited to write for it.
How long do I have to finish the steps to become certified once I have been trained?
You have two years from the date of your training class to finish your certification program. If it goes beyond two years, you will need to take the training over and update your references. The rest of your work will hold.
How long is my certification good for? What are the requirements to keep up my certification?
You will continue to be certified if you do the following by the end of year 3. . Keep up your membership and 10 credit hours of learning per year (30 required by the end of year 3) by attending online or in-person classes, workshops, conferences or by reading appropriate books on the subject. (You receive 1 hour per book). You must update your records by reporting them to us prior to your 4th anniversary of certification . You will need to have 3 hours of Babies Remembered sponsored/approved classes (online or in person) each year.
Who started this certification and why?
Sherokee Ilse and Pat Flynn, both bereaved parents and parent advocates, found reasons why we felt such a service needed to be available to families when we are given devastating news. We want to see parents get consistent care throughout their journey from people who really do understand and who know how to help them be fully-informed and better prepared to meet and be with their babies. We give credit to many people who inspired them in developing this program. Jane Parker, a former nurse, childbirth educator, and loving caregiver was one of the first people in we know of who gave (free) service to families as a Perinatal Loss Doula. Jane created some training, collaborated with a team, worked under a Hospice program and began this paradigm of care in the St. Petersburg, Florida area. Around the same time Anne Marie Hertner, Dawn Borchardt and others were training and utilizing Loss Doulas at Woodwinds Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. The hospital uses these trained women, especially on weekends to help families having a miscarriage. In late 2010, we began to create an international certification program that would learn from these pioneers and grow it worldwide.
Why? Every newly bereaved family deserves the best care; sadly, that seems to be happening less and less in some hospitals and communities. We don't exactly know why, but we wonder if under-staffing and financial issues have cut training and negatively impacted what helpful literature is given out. Could the use of computers and the time needed for charting impact the staff's availability to families? Most hospitals do not require extensive perinatal loss training and learning of each professional who cares for these families; this means families may be cared for by people who are not really prepared or comfortable with this situation. Whatever the reason, too many parents report mediocre to poor care which causes regrets and stress as parents try to heal without a good foundation of the special and beautiful time they had being with their baby after birth. If we can't count on 100% EXCELLENT care for all families, then we need to offer another source of care that compliments what they receive at the clinic and in the hospital.
Are there success stories?
More and more success stories are coming in. Some we put up on the site, others we share on the blog or in our private Facebook group. One hospital was so impressed they are searching for money in hopes of hiring the Loss Doula who helped a patient while on their Birth Center. Another group of hospitals in one community have agreed to have their staff contact the local Care Companions (certified by us) when parents have a recent loss. Parents are contacting us or their Independent Loss Adviosr™/Loss Doula with gratefulness offering to give testimonials. One mother has approached her hospital to start using the local Loss Advisor after she found the experience 'incredible.' The stories will continue to come in. We'll find ways to share them with you. Toni-Marie wrote that her Loss Advisor™ 'changed her life and was an angel.'
How do we get hospitals and clinics to use our services?
With any newer idea, there is a learning curve of acceptance that must occur. In our training we discuss more ideas on how to do this and are beginning to have some wonderful success stories. You can visit them with your manual, resume, and a flyer/business card in hand. there are a number of ways to give service: as a hospital volunteer or subcontractor to the clinic/hospital, as a subcontractor to a Doula group, simply as a guest of the parents, as a part of your Doula services if you do this work, or a member of a local or national nonprofit who will act as your umbrella. We always discuss this further in our training class.
We also encourage you to also look beyond hospitals and clinics. Hospice programs, funeral directors, support group leaders, clergy and houses of worship, childbirth educators and most importantly, Doula groups are excellent places to approach about your services. We will collect and share success stories and testimonials on the website and speficallly on the blog. You may use these when you contact your area facilities.
If I want to have a training in my area, what do I need to do?
Check in with us via email or call us so we can discuss viability, timing, other classes that may be coming to the area, etc.
The basics include:
- Help us market so there is a minimum of 10 students (max of 20) in order for the class to become a reality
- Find a site that we approve of - usually a classroom with ppt/screen, tables and chairs and convenient for people to find, though other venues ideas may also work
- Share the flyer we create (personalized to your training) with birth professionals, doulas, childbirth educators, clergy/chaplains, social workers, bereaved parent (reach out to support groups and non-profit organizations who support the bereaved), hospitals, clinics, therapists/counselors...
- Find one or more sponsors to help with the class. In exchange for money for student scholarships, food, classroom, or other support, their name/logo will be put on the flyer and marketing materials, brochures will be handed out to students in the class and depending on the level of their contribution, they may receive a financial discount for a parent or professional of their choosing to attend the training
We will also help recruit, but we find that local people are most successful in filling the class, so taking on a training in your community does require some work on your part.
What do we do about insurance?
All candidates and certified Loss Advisors™/Loss Doulas must purchase their own insurance. there are insurance companies who have affordable policies. LDI and Babies Remembered are not responsible in any way for the work that each Independent caregivers offers. So we highly recommend you do carry insurance that covers your work, whether as a volunteer or if you receive payments. Our private Facebook page is a private networking page for certified BLFA/BLDs. Affordable insurance is one of many topics that has been discussed and shared.
How do we get our names listed on the website?
Once you have attended the Certification Training and done the pre-training work, you are eligible to be listed on the website. This is where some screening occurs. Each candidate will work with our staff to determine if she is ready to have her name put on the website. All non-certified candidates will be identified with an * to show they are not yet certified. Your membership must be active.
How many modules are there in the training course and are they all in person?
There are 10 required modules. Four are online videos and six are in person. They are:
- The Mission, Vision, and Your Role
- Understanding Grief and Mourning
- Empathic, Effective Communication During a Crisis and Beyond
- Labor and Delivery Awareness and Miscarriage Support
- Memory-making: Hellos and Goodbyes
- Slowing it Down and Preparation for the Birth
- Birth Preferences Planning
- Testing, Evaluation/Autopsy, Bereavement Discharge Meeting
- How to Do and Be a Loss Advisor/Loss Doula
- Self Care
Why do you insist on some hours of one-on-one training; why can't it all be online?
We have found that meeting in person is far richer for all. The brainstorming, guided practice, sharing of experiences, and resource identification are some of the areas that are done best in person. Lifelong friendships and mentorship opportunities are facilitated well during in-person training. This is also a way for candidates and trainers to determine candidate readiness.