The Process to Become a Doula Explained

Doula Training and Certification

What is a doula?

Doulas are skilled professionals who reduce fear and instill strength for birthing families by providing continuous support. Doulas help people during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period by offering evidence-based information, providing physical comfort measures, and by being emotionally present and available.

What does the word doula mean?

The word doula is of Greek origin and means “a female servant.” To become a doula, the first step is to register for a doula training. Anyone can be a doula once they have taken the training and there are no prerequisites for becoming a doula.

What is doula training?

Doula training is the necessary education for starting a career as a professional doula. Doula trainings are sometimes referred to as doula workshops and they usually take place in a comfortable and casual setting. During the global pandemic, in person doula training has been put on hold and has been replaced with live, interactive video conferencing (Zoom). An in-person doula training (or Zoom training) is typically 2 or 3 days in length, and covers the following doula related topics:

Doula training is an incredible experience where individuals come as strangers and leave as friends. Doulas are people who support others. The sharing and bonding that occurs during the doula learning experience unites those who share in it in a magical and fulfilling way.

What is doula certification?

Doula certification is the process of completing the doula education process in its entirety. The first step is the in-person (or interactive, live, virtual) doula training experience. Once you have taken the training you will be what is considered, a “Trained Doula” or a “Pre-Certified Doula.” 

Each doula training organization has an outlined process for becoming a Certified Doula. Some require the completion of a lengthy reading list, followed by long writing assignments and the attendance of many client’s births. This can take a long time and can be a frustrating experience for doulas who are not strong readers or writers.

ProDoula’s process for becoming a Certified Doula includes the following:

ProDoula’s 3-Step Doula Certification process enables doulas to begin their doula career professionally, and with the necessary skills and knowledge to confidently support clients through childbirth and the postpartum period.

Is doula certification required?

Currently, there is no state licensing for doulas so doula certification is not necessarily a requirement. State agencies have recently begun working to consider and implement programs that would provide access to doula support for those with less financial means. State funded Medicaid programs come hand-in-hand with the governing of state paid providers. In the event that these programs become a reality, it is likely that doula certification will become a requirement.

As a doula, completing the doula certification process shows your commitment to your profession and your desire to obtain a robust education. Doula certification provides accountability and a sense of pride for those who earn it.

How do I find a doula training near me?

When seeking to become a doula, most people start by doing a Google search for “doula training near me.” That sometimes yields a convenient result, but more often than not, a local doula training may not be scheduled at a time and location that you are able to access.

For that reason, ProDoula has a very easy process for scheduling a doula training in your city. Simply go to the doula training page on the ProDoula website and register for what is called a “Future Training.” A staff member from the ProDoula office will contact you to arrange your doula training at a time and location that is convenient for you!

Once a local doula training has been scheduled in your city, ProDoula’s marketing team will work to attract others to the training. The other members of your training will become an amazing doula support network for you as a newly trained doula!

How much does doula training cost?

The cost for doula training varies from one doula certification organization to another. In some cases, the doula trainer sets their own fee. After you’ve taken the training, you are charged additional fees for books, a certification packet, the review of your certification packet and annual membership fees. This can end up costing you more than $1,000.00 for your doula training and certification. These organizations also require costly recertification fees that can accumulate to as much as $500-$800 every 2-3 years.

ProDoula has taken the guess-work out of the cost of doula training. 

The cost of doula training with ProDoula is $595.00. The only additional cost is your annual professional membership fee.

The benefits of your professional membership with ProDoula include:

What is recertification for doulas?

Some doula training organizations require you to recertify every 2-3 years. The requirements include earning continuing education units (CEU’s) that they have awarded to programs that relate to birth or the postpartum period. These additional training classes can be expensive, and if you are required to do them every 2-3 years, it can become very costly. Additionally, these organizations charge a fee for reviewing and processing your recertification.

ProDoula does not require certified doulas to recertify. We do have an option to recertify should you need to do so to qualify for a third party program. Call the office for details (914) 400-3494.

Because ProDoula believes that doulas and birth professionals in general should stay current on best practices, ProDoula’s Doula Learning Channel features additional online courses at a very comfortable price point. These courses can be taken from home at the doula’s leisure. 

These doula courses include information on:

Which is better? In-person doula training or online doula training?

People may think that the convenience of self paced online doula training outweighs the benefit of in-person doula training, however, it is simply untrue. While likely less expensive and more convenient, self paced doula training online does not compare to the in person doula training experience. 

Being a doula is an in-person experience. In order to learn the hands-on practical side of the doula experience, you must practice the skills you learn while you are learning them. 

During an in-person doula training, you are partnered with another attendee. As each comfort measure for labor is introduced, you will have the opportunity to be on the giving, and receiving end of the demonstration. You will feel how much pressure is enough, exactly where your hands can offer the most relief, and how to best physically support an exhausted laboring client. 

During the whole experience of in-person doula training, your own expert doula trainer will be there to ensure that you have a proper understanding of each doula technique. This is something you simply can not get from online doula training.

*Live, interactive, virtual trainings via Zoom are currently replacing in-person trainings during the global pandemic.

What is the difference between DONA and ProDoula?

DONA, or Doulas of North America is the longest standing certification organization for doulas. ProDoula is the leading edge certification organization for doulas and birth workers.

DONA is a non-profit run by volunteers and who has hired a management company for the running of its office.

ProDoula is a fully staffed for profit business run by its owners, staff and CEO who are seasoned doulas that understand the needs of new doulas. Each doula who trains and certifies with ProDoula is an esteemed client/customer of the organization. Members are encouraged to reach out to the Training & Development Team or the home office staff with any needs, questions or concerns. 

Completing your certification with DONA is a lengthy process that requires you to support 3 clients and have evaluations filled out by the families and the medical providers regarding your performance as a doula. The births you attend must “qualify” by DONA’s guidelines and for many doulas working toward certification, it requires them to attend close to 10 births in order to reach 3 qualifying births. There is an extensive amount of reading and essay writing to be completed and submitted for review. 

Completing your doula certification with ProDoula is a 3 step process (as outlined above) that can be completed within as few as 2-3 days of completing your doula training. Once certified, ProDoula offers you the option to become a Certified Elite Doula. The fee to submit for elite certification is $50. Depending on whether submitting for elite certification as a Labor Doula or a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, the applicant must build a list of client resources and provide 3 client evaluations to be submitted for review. Becoming “Certified Elite” is not required, however it offers additional credibility to the professional doula.

DONA does not train doulas. They are an organization that strictly certifies doulas. They have an approval system in place that qualifies a doula training as a “DONA approved training.” DONA approved trainings vary from training to training, as each DONA approved trainer is tasked with writing their own doula training curriculum based on key topics.

ProDoula trainings are standardized. Every doula is trained uniformly from an evidence-based, up-to-date curriculum. The ProDoula training curriculum is researched every 5 years in order to update the content with new relevant evidence based information as it becomes available. While you are not required to have a nursing background in order to become a doula, all ProDoula doula trainings are approved for 17 American Nurse Association continuing education units.
“ProDoula is approved as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the South Carolina Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.”

What is it like to be a doula?

If you are passionate about pregnancy, birth, babies and families, there is no career quite like being a doula. Each and every time a family invites you as a doula to support them through the life-changing experience of having a baby or bringing one home, it is an absolute privilege. Being paid to do work that you love is rewarding in ways that are hard to put into words. 

As a doula you will witness life in its most vulnerable form. You will look deeply into the eyes of your birthing client and your belief in them will foster a belief in themselves that they are strong and capable. You will instill strength and you will reduce fear. Lives will change forever in front of your very eyes and you will feel proud; honored and grateful.

Being a doula is a career like no other. The services that doulas provide, feel almost like a gift to the person receiving them. However, this is hard work. The schedule a doula keeps is not always easy and you could literally be with a client in labor for 20+ hours at a time. For this reason and so many others, you must be fairly compensated for the doula services you provide.

Are people hiring doulas?

Yes! Yes they are. As the trend of having a doula grows, more and more people are seeking the support of a birth doula or postpartum doula to assist them as they prepare to grow their families. 

News articles, blogs and television shows are showing the world what doulas do and because of that, doulas are in a higher demand than ever. Pregnant individuals and couples are seeking to hire a doula and unfortunately sometimes cannot find one. The world needs more doulas so you should become a doula now!

How much money can I make as a doula?

Depending on where you live, the fee for labor doulas can be anywhere from $800.00 – $1,800.00+. For postpartum doulas the rate is typically somewhere between $25.00 – $50.00 per hour. 

Should I become a birth doula or a postpartum doula?

Truthfully, you should become both a birth doula and a postpartum doula. Families need support during the birth and after it. To be the most successful, well-rounded doula you can be, it is wise to be available to your clients during the birth and after it as well.

Do I need insurance to work as a doula?

When you are working as a doula, it is wise to protect yourself with liability insurance. We recommend CM&F Group for doula insurance policies. Depending on the state you live in, the cost for a million dollar insurance policy is approximately $200.00 per year. This is a worthwhile business investment for all doulas. When you take a ProDoula training, you will qualify for a 10% discount on your doula insurance through our recommended insurance provider.

How do I write a doula contract?

When you take a ProDoula doula training you will receive a doula contract in your training manual. You are welcome to use it as it is or modify it anyway you like. It is recommended that you have an attorney in your state review all legal documents that you plan to use for your doula business to be certain that they are enforceable in the state you will be working in.

Are businesses hiring doulas?

As a professional doula, getting hired by a doula agency is becoming more common in recent years. As the demand for trained or certified doulas increases, doula entrepreneurs are growing doula practices that can accommodate more and more doula clients. 

For this reason, they are often seeking new doulas to join their teams. Submitting a resume and a letter of intent to a local doula agency is the first step to an in-person doula interview. From there you may be invited to work for the doula agency as either an employee or as an independent contractor.

How do I learn about running a doula business?

Running a doula business is simple, but it’s not always easy. Without any business skills, doulas may have a difficult time finding clients and maintaining systems for client management, billing and marketing themselves. 

For this reason, all ProDoula doula trainings cover doula business topics and there is a section in the doula training manual that focuses exclusively on growing your doula business. 

Additional doula business courses are available through ProDoula and online birth business related courses can be found at the Doula Learning