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How to Become a Doula: Training & Certifications You’ll Need

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After some deep soul searching, you’ve likely unearthed your calling to become a doula.

Now, you’re wondering how to become a doula. Fortunately, the process is versatile.

Becoming a doula involves training and certification before marketing your business to prospective birthing couples.

You’ll want to consider factors like the emotional burden you’ll carry from witnessing such an intense moment.

There’s also the physical strain of supporting the birth mother throughout her pregnancy.

Despite all the load, becoming a doula carries a unique experience. Your role is to engrave positive memories of childbirth and offer words and actions of comfort and support.

An Overview of Doulas: A Primer

Doulas serve women during their pregnancy phases. They can give emotional and physical support, birth coaching, and parental guidance. Doulas don’t provide professional medical advice.

Despite that, birthing couples may ask doulas to communicate their needs to health professionals. The job is usually on-call. In turn, you’ll need to keep your location close to your birthing couple.

Some may view the job as an uncommon side hustle, but doulas are more motivated by the role’s experience than monetary benefit.

How Much Do Doulas Make?

According to the International Doula Institute, birth doulas can charge around $600 to $2,000 per birth. The amount depends on the location’s cost of living.

For example, doulas in New York will likely charge more than the ones in Austin.

Top view of a smiling pregnant woman lying on the floor and a doula helping her to decrease her pain

What You’ll Need to Become a Doula (& Associated Costs)

Becoming a doula primarily involves educational and marketing costs.

  • Training: The average training costs of becoming a doula are between $300 to $500.
  • Certification: Certification costs differ depending on the program. It can cost around $100 to $1,100.
  • Marketing Platform: Costs of building a website to showcase your services can average an annual $500 to $1,000.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Doula?

The overall costs of becoming a doula are $900 to $2,600. These costs account for certifications, training, and marketing efforts.

Now, if you don’t pursue the certification route, it’ll cost much less, but you likely won’t find as many clients willing to use your service.

Is it Hard to Become a Doula?

Becoming a doula calls for enhancing the parent’s connection and support during pregnancy phases. This calls for exceptional communication skills. Doulas work under high-pressure environments but need to remain calm.

The job requires you to be on-call 24/7 since childbirth waits for no one. On a positive note, you get to control your working hours and monthly client intake, facilitating a high degree of work-life balance.

Overall, becoming a doula is challenging, but you reap benefits like autonomy and gaining new and unique experiences.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Doula?

Becoming a doula usually takes between two to four years. You can finish your training earlier and earn doula status faster, but more comprehensive training will benefit you more in your career path.

You can also explore continuing education options, like advanced VBAC or stillbirth doula training.

How to Become a Doula in 5 Steps

Whether looking for a great second job or pursuing your true calling, becoming a doula involves five steps.

A doula working with a pregnant woman whose husband holding her hands in a bedroom

Step 1: Decide Your Specialty

In the most general sense, doulas are women that serve women. There are several types of branches in the doula market.

Each specialty brings an exhausting yet rewarding feeling. You can choose between:

Birth Doula

Birth doulas support women during their childbirth phase. They should be available on-call during any time of the day and work long hours, depending on the birth’s duration.

These doulas assist women in labor by applying counterpressure. They push the heel of their hands into the birthing woman’s lower back. Birth doulas may also use both hands to apply pressure on each hip side.

These compressions help alleviate the tension during birth, especially with women experiencing back labor.

Besides that, doulas may also focus their attention on the birth partner. They offer emotional support, relief, and food if needed.

Postpartum Doula

Postpartum doulas provide their services after childbirth. They can support the couple by completing household chores to lessen their load.

Clients may also ask for your newborn care assistance during late nights. Their prime job objective is to give the birthing couple more time with their new child during the postpartum period.

Antepartum Doula

Antepartum doulas work with women before and during childbirth. Some clients may request your assistance promptly after being aware of their pregnancy.

The role involves educating the birthing couple in the prenatal phase and offering emotional support and comfort.

In most cases, antepartum doulas work with high-risk pregnancies. For instance, if the birthing partner or mother is sick or needs bed rest, antepartum doulas can support them through housework. You need to alleviate the couple’s anxiety as the birth nears.

Bereavement Doula

As the name suggests, a bereavement doula aids birthing mothers experiencing a loss from stillbirths or miscarriages. They also support women that are expecting a loss. Your job is to cushion the family physically and emotionally.

Being a bereavement doula is likely one of the most challenging roles in this specialty list. It’ll be emotionally straining to experience the loss frequently without letting it affect your mental health.

Subsequently, you’ll need to establish a work-life boundary with this role.

Sibling Doula

Not only do sibling doulas support the birthing couple during labor, but the baby’s sibling as well. The mother might ask you to include the sibling during the birth or provide them emotional support as they welcome their new sibling into the family.

In this specialty, you’ll want to work with a family early on to establish a deeper connection with the sibling. It’ll allow you to gauge the child’s fears and worries about birthing.

Once the labor nears, the sibling will be more comfortable with your helping hand.

Adoption and Surrogate Doula

Surrogate doulas help the birthing mother during labor. You can also emotionally support the surrogate’s partner if needed. You’ll be there to fill the void if they’re unavailable.

They also ease the transition process as the surrogate mother relieves her child to the new parents.

Adoption doulas provide the couple with parenting assistance and guidance. You’ll help prepare their space for the new child and manage the emotional journey.

Step 2: Take Your Considerations

Before starting your doula career path, you’ll want to account for a few considerations. One of the most critical aspects of being a doula is finding support as a supporter. As a doula, you’ll be met with exhaustive experiences of long hours and intense emotions.

You’ll need someone to support you as you navigate these emotions with your clients. Besides that, you should also consider the responsibility of being a doula.

New parents are heavily relying on your support at any time. If you have additional obligations at home, it might be challenging to balance them out.

Even if you schedule two births monthly, both may happen on the same day, compromising your work.

Overall, it’s an unpredictable work schedule with hefty support requirements. You’ll want to be clear about your motivations before getting into this line of work.

Step 3: Get Trained

Your next step is to find a doula training organization. We suggest searching for a training program certified by CAPPA Worldwide, International Childbirth Education Association (ICA), or DONA International. The good news is that you can find distance learning options.

During doula training, you will likely attend a childbirth session to understand the birthing process and potential issues.

After completing your class, you can go to a labor doula workshop. They’ll offer hands-on experience of support-giving in all pregnancy stages. You’ll grasp comfort and compression techniques.

Depending on your specialization, you can continue taking a postpartum doula workshop. In these, you’ll learn more about newborn care and breastfeeding.

The training program will also teach you how to find clients and support your doula business.

Step 4: Find Certifications

FAQs on DONA Postpartum Doula Certification process

After completing your training, it’s time to search for a credible certification. Several certifications come with the training package. You can apply to notable organizations like DONA International and Birth Arts International.

Certification requirements vary for each organization. In most cases, you’ll need to complete three supervised and qualified childbirths to get certified. DONA International certifications call for supporting two breastfeeding mothers and at least eight hours of support.

Although doula care doesn’t necessitate a formal certification, you’re better off with it. You’ll have organizational backing, and insurance reimbursements would be easier to gain.

You can maximize your chances of earning gigs by completing an infant CPR and massage therapy certification.

Step 5: Find Clients

As a certified doula, you can take your work with a birthing center or a midwife clinic. If you want to work freelance, you’ll need to market your services in your location through networking in childbirth classes.

As a member of an organization, you’ll likely get listed in the referral section. Besides that, you can establish your brand by creating a website, business social media platforms, and passing out business cards.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Doula

A doula working with a pregnant woman in the living room

Expecting birthing couples are more likely to become emotionally alleviated and less anxiety-ridden with a doula. As someone with a calm disposition and impeccable interpersonal skills, you can excel in your role.

  • Provide Support: Studies show that with doula support, women are 50% less likely to give birth prematurely. They’re also a 33% higher chance that they’ll breastfeed.
  • Transferable Skill Development: Doulas use multiple skills during their workflow, from communication and interpersonal skills to working under pressure.
  • Develop Close Relationships: Doulas foster close bonds with their clients. These relationships often last long.
  • Raise Awareness: Doulas can raise awareness on critical subjects such as mental health and physical well-being during childbirth. You can turn your advice into a book, podcast, or blog.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kinds of Doulas Make the Most Money?

Birth doulas make the most money since they charge by birth. If you engage in an average of four per month, you can earn an annual $67,200 to $96,000.

Are Doulas Better Than Midwives?

Doulas are better than midwives at offering emotional support during childbirth. Midwives are more sufficient in giving professional medical care.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

There are several alternatives to becoming a doula that require similar skills.

Wrapping Up

Research shows that mothers using doula assistance have better birth outcomes than those without. In turn, becoming a doula does make a difference.

To become one, you need to go through relevant training and certification routes from accredited organizations.

Then, you can build your business through marketing efforts, referrals, and word-of-mouth.

Let us know what you think in the comments below, and don’t forget to share the article if you liked it.

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