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What You Need to Know to Become a Doula

By HERWriter
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There are two basic categories of doulas – birth doulas who attend women in the delivery room, and postpartum doulas who assist women and their families as they make the adjustment to having a new baby at home.

A doula is someone who recognizes that giving birth is a major life experience for women and their partners. There are a number of organizations that provide training and certification for professional doulas in the United States, including DONA (Doulas of North America), ICEA (The International Childbirth Education Association), and CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association). The requirements for certification as a doula may differ depending on the organization you chose.

These basic steps are often required for birth doula certification:

• Meet the minimum age requirement if there is one.
• Join the certifying organization.
• Complete all the books on a required reading list.
• Attend general childbirth seminars and other training.
• Complete training in lactation and breastfeeding.
• Provide labor support for a required number of births, including continuous care of the mother, witnessing multiple vaginal deliveries, providing immediate postpartum support after the baby is born.
• Pass a certification exam.

These are some common requirements for postpartum doula certification:

• Meet the minimum age requirement if there is one.
• Join the certifying organization.
• Complete all the books on a required reading list.
• Attend the required number of postpartum workshops.
• Complete training in lactation and breastfeeding.
• Provide good evaluations from at least three clients who received postpartum care from you.
• Provide professional references.
• Obtain CPR certification.
• Pass a certification exam.

Doulas provide emotional and physical support to mothers and their families during and after the delivery of their child.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Why did you limit the article to the "old school" doula training programs? There are other programs out there that are just as good and offer a lot more structure (Childbirth International and Birth Arts International to name a few)

August 6, 2011 - 9:48pm

As a postpartum doula it's insulting to see that photo of a baby with a bottle shoved in it's mouth.

Look at DONA.org short video about the history of postpartum and birth doulas.

The existence of postpartum Doulas came about to support breastfeeding. We are NOT interchangeable with baby nurses.

Please Read anthropologist Dana Raphael's book "The tender girt: Breastfeeding", she coined the word DOULA. Postpartum doulas are there for women who want support with breastfeeding.

December 12, 2010 - 12:52pm
EmpowHER Guest

Poor photo for this article! Not sure what is going on there. The uncomfortable mom is shoving a bottle onto her awkwardly held baby. What does that have to do with doulaing? A large part of being a doula is helping to support the new mother's nursing time. Perhaps a better picture could be used?

November 23, 2010 - 11:23am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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