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Information on How to Become a Doula

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Updated May 01, 2013

Becoming a doula is a big decision.

Becoming a doula is a big decision.

Photo © GrapeVine Photography

Why do you want to become a doula?:

Choosing to become a doula is no easy decision. While the reward is great, there are long hours at births and a life on call. You may be drawn to this field as a way to help other women as they become mothers, or perhaps it's a natural extension of something you already do like working as a childbirth educator, lactation consultant or other health field.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

One of the first things you must do to become a doula is to figure out which of the many training and certifying organization is best for you. To do this, I would suggest answering these questions:
  • What kind of time do you have to devote to training?
  • Can you travel to attend a training?
  • Do you have a nearby mentor?
  • Is there a reading list?
  • Is there a certification exam?
  • How many certifying births?
  • What are the requirements for continuing education/recertifcation?

    Once you have answered these question you may have a better idea of which organization is best suited for you.

  • Choosing an Organization With Which to Certify:

    There are many organizations that offer certification for doula. You will need to figure out which fits your philosophy of birth, your budget, your time frame as well as your needs. For example, if you are already attending births, you may not need a course that has a longer training time taught as a part of the curriculum. But if you are a nurse working in labor and delivery, you might need the more labor support skills but not require the observations of births. It's also important to know what is the accepted standard where you live for doulas.

    Talk to Other Doulas:

    Before you finalize your decision talk to other people. Talk to people who have taken these types of classes to become a doula. Did they get the support that they needed? Were their needs met both during and after the certification process? Did they feel that they got their monies worth? Are there any hidden costs or things that surprised them about the training or post-training support?

    How much money do you make as a doula?:

    It is not, for most people, a way to earn a living, though many women do supplement their incomes or pay for certain things with this money. The vast majority of women are attending births as a doula because they are passionate about the information and helping birthing families.

    Some doulas will supplement their income by teaching childbirth classes. They may also be certified as lactation consultants.

    Major Certifying Organizations:

    There are some major certifying organizations training people to become doulas. These include:

    Questions to Ask Each Organization About Training:

    • Do I have to travel to attend the training?
    • How long is the training?
    • What will I be taught during the training?
    • Will I need additional materials? If yes, what?
    • What is the average time to complete the training and become certified?
    • Other than the training fee is there a fee to be certified? Recertified?
    • Is there a certification test? Is it in person or mail in?
    • How many certifying births will I need? Is there paperwork? Who fills it out?
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    6. How to Become a Doula

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