How to Become A Doula
As a birth doula, I'm often asked many questions about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, but one of the most frequently asked questions I get is actually how to become a doula. There's actually a lot of different pathways to becoming a doula, based on if you choose to become certified, if you want to be a birth or postpartum doula, and which organization you most align with to train or certify with.
Most states do not have any legal requirements for doulas because we do not provide any medical care, whatsoever. Doulas help by providing educational, emotional, and physical support. Many people confuse doulas with midwives, who do provide medical care, usually with a very holistic approach. Doulas do not need to certify to be able to practice, however, many clients appreciate knowing that their doula has received professional training and is certified through an organizing body.
Finding The Right Organization
There are hundreds of doula organizations offering training and certifications to doulas, each with a unique mission statement, different paths to certification, varying training protocols, and different benefits for their members. I will cover some of the most well-known organizations here but I encourage you to do your own research to find the organization that lines up with your personal beliefs the most.
DONA International is the largest, oldest, and most widely recognized doula organization, and as such, has more than 13,000 certified doulas. In order to certify through DONA, you will need to become a DONA International Doula, attend a doula workshop, observe a childbirth education class, attend a breastfeeding class, attend at least three births as the primary doula, write an essay, read several books, and then submit a certifying packet for review.
Estimated cost: $800-$1,000
CAPPA is one of the oldest and most comprehensive training organizations in America. CAPPA prides itself on the education and support they provide their doulas and members with. CAPPA offers both in-person and online doula training. To certify with CAPPA, you will need to complete the required reading, attend three births as a labor doula, pass several exams, and create a resource list with information about local support for expectant and new families.
Estimated cost (in person): $650 and up, plus the cost of books
Estimated cost (online): $725 and up, plus the cost of books
ICEA's mission is to educate, certify, and support the birth professional who believes in the freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in family-centered maternity and newborn care. To become an ICEA certified doula, you will need to enroll in the certification program, attend a workshop either online or in person, complete the required reading, attend at least three births, attend a childbirth education series and complete their exam.
Estimated cost (in person): $1,270
Estimated cost (online): $1,140
Becoming a doula is an exciting career path, and one of the most rewarding lines of work a person can enter into, however, it is also demanding. Being a doula requires spending a lot of time on-call for clients, it can mean missing several nights of sleep in a row, and it can be very taxing emotionally. Many people become doulas and stop within their first year due to burnout. If you choose to become a doula, it is very important that you have a support system in place, whether it be other doulas, family, or friends, that way you have someone to lean on when you need it.
If you have any other questions about becoming a doula, feel free to leave a comment below or to reach out .