Doula Training – What You Need to do to Become a Doula

A baby's feet.

Expectant parents today are discovering that hiring a birth doula to assist them during labor and birth has many benefits. Doulas fill a role during childbirth that cannot be met by family members, nurses or primary care providers. What do you need to know about becoming a birth doula as well as all of the doula training requirements to see if you have what it takes?

Recommended Reading to Prepare Before Doula Training

If you have never helped a woman through the challenges of labor, it might help to get your feet wet by reading pregnancy and birth books related to childbirth and doulas. Some suggestions include:

The Doula Book by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

If you plan to continue with getting doula certification, be sure to get started on some of the required reading found on the DONA International reading list.

Decisions about Lifestyle, Responsibilities and Work Before Becoming a Doula

Now is a good time to evaluate career decisions to become a doula. Can you fit this into your life and existing responsibilities? Do you have a flexible job? Do you have reliable child care? Do you have reliable transportation? Can you work well for long hours without sleep? These are all realities that you will need to face if you become a doula.

Since doulas are often hired privately by the families they assist during labor, business can be sporadic. If you are used to getting a paycheck every two weeks, it can be a difficult adjustment for some to have little income for weeks or months at a time if business is slow. What do you have in place to supplement your income during the slow months?

Components of Doula Training

Most recognized doula training programs have several components including:

  1. required reading (typically five to 10 books)
  2. observation of childbirth education and breastfeeding classes
  3. attendance at an approved doula training workshop
  4. provide assistance to several laboring mothers including required evaluations
  5. documentation from births attended including self analysis, description of birth, etc..
  6. essay on topic related to doula work
  7. signed agreement to adhere to organization’s standards and codes.

It is important to research all of the requirements for doula training in each organization you may be interested in since there is often strict deadlines to follow. Additionally, doula training organizations may require that certain components be met in a certain order, so be sure to investigate all of the necessary requirements for certification as well as the costs of the program before applying.

Reasons to Complete Doula Certification

You might prefer that your plumber has a license and your doctor has a medical degree. In the same way, certification is an important step in becoming a doula. Hiring a certified doula does not mean the doula is better than a non-certified one. However, doula certification shows that a doula has completed all of the requirements for doula training and met the required minimum standards set by the governing organization.

Doula certification also provides protection for clients in the event that problems with a doula arise. If parents are unhappy with their doula, grievances can be filed with the certifying organization. A family who hires a non-certified doula does not have this protection.

Comparing Doula Training Programs

There are many recognized doula organizations who certify doulas. Here are questions to ask when researching doula training programs:

  1. How long has the doula organization been in existence? The longer the organization has been training doulas, the better in most cases.
  2. What training is required of the doula trainers? The more credentials and requirements for doula trainers, the better the doula training programs tend to be.
  3. Does the doula training program require hands-on training? At least some portion of the doula training should involve hands-on, face-to-face learning rather than solely distance learning or self study.
  4. What is the cost of the program? Most doula training programs include costs for books, workshop fees, membership and certification fees.
  5. Does the organization require recertification and provide continuing education? Staying up-to-date is an important aspect of of being a doula.

Considering becoming a doula, taking doula training and applying for certification are big steps. However, many doulas discover that assisting mothers in labor is a very rewarding career. If you need more information on becoming a doula, be sure to check out articles on doula support being recommended by research, reasons to hire a doulainterview questions for a doula and choosing a career as a doula.