How to Become a Certified Doula
Becoming a doula can be a valuable career path. You will aid mothers in childbirth, childcare, and provide emotional support to clients as they become parents. There are no official certifications required to become a doula, but certification can help your career greatly. Training programs that provide certification are invaluable, as you will learn a lot about childbirth, childcare, and other aspects of your role as a doula. A certification can also make potential clients want to work with you, as it gives you legitimacy. To become a certified doula, decide on the right career path for you. There are many different types of doulas. From there, pursue training and certification. After being certified, you can begin a long and fulfilling career.
Choosing Your Career Track
Learn about the career.Before you embark on the path to becoming a doula, you'll want to learn a bit about the career. Being a doula can be rewarding, but also stressful. You want to make sure the path is right for you before pursuing training and certification.
- As a birth doula, you will provide emotional support during labor, and also help women with breathing and delivery. Many women who hire doulas prefer home birth, so you must be comfortable working outside the hospital setting. Some doulas are postpartum doulas, and aid women and families during the first months of an infant's life.
- You can make money by becoming a doula. Doulas generally charge between 0 and ,500 for home birth services. You can also work as a volunteer doula, which may be a great way to gain initial experience. Some doulas are hired through hospitals, although most work independently as small business owners.
Familiarize yourself with the role of a birth doula.If you want to be a birth doula, you will assist during the actual process of childbirth. There are different types of birth doulas who specialize in different types of pregnancy and labor.
- Birth doulas support the woman during the last few weeks of pregnancy, as well as during the labor process. Your goal as a doula is to make pregnancy a positive and empowering experience for women. In addition to medical knowledge, you need to have good people skills as you'll be helping women and their families manage the stress of childbirth.
- An antepartum doula specifically works with high risk pregnancies. Often, women are confined to their beds during these pregnancies, so you will be caring for women in the weeks leading up to child birth.
- Some birth doulas work specifically with adoptive parents and birth mothers. In addition to delivering the baby, you will help birth parents and adoptive parents mange the emotions associated with adoption.
Review other types of support doulas provide.Not all doulas assist with childbirth. Some doulas work with women postpartum to help with childcare. Other doulas help women manage emotions after a miscarriage.
- Postpartum doulas work with a women for the first few weeks after an infant is born. As a postpartum doula, you will help women learn the best means of breastfeeding, assist with general childcare, and help families manage the emotional transition of a new baby.
- Loss doulas primarily care for women who have suffered pregnancy loss or loss during pregnancy. You will help women learn grieving techniques, aid with funeral arrangements if necessary, and help out with basic household chores while a family is bereaved.
Reach out to national and international doula organizations.If you decide you want to become a doula, you should research national and international doula organizations. You can call or email these organizations, or simply browse their websites. Such organizations can provide you with reading material, as well as provide guidance on training and certification programs in your area.
- Birth Arts International offers international certification and support for doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator and bereavement certifications. They work with doulas in over 100 countries and offer eLearning, distance learning and training workshops.
- Doulas of North America International (DONA) offers international certification, and can be a source of guidance for doulas worldwide.
- Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA) can offer guidance, training, and certification for those who want to work as doulas and postpartum doulas.
- Childbirth International works with doulas in over 100 countries worldwide. It provides certification for all types of doulas, and has many branches in the United States.
Seeking Training and Certification
Find a variety of reputable training programs.Once you're ready to pursue training, seek out training programs in your area and price range. Keep a list of training programs on-hand, and jot down the pros and cons of each program.
- It can be helpful to browse the website of an organization like Birth Arts International or DONA. You can see if there are any doula training programs in your area.
- If money is an issue, some organizations provide scholarships or are very low cost. Check tuition costs when browsing programs.
Select the right training program for you.Once you have a long list of potential programs, you will need to select the right program for you. There are a variety of factors to consider in regards to what kind of doula training will meet your needs.
- Look into the trainers in the program. Do they practice birthing and postpartum care that fits with your personal ethics? Where were they trained? Do they have certification from reputable doula organizations?
- How do you learn best? If you're a hands-on learner, you'll want a program that primarily trains by allowing you to work in the field. If you prefer lecture-based learning, a program that provides a lot of reading and classroom work may work better for you. An online program may even be sufficient.
- If you're getting trained locally, make sure the trainer knows the local birth scene. If your trainer is already well-known, using his or her name can help you get clients. A trainer who knows the birth scene can also help you get acquainted with local hospitals and birthing centers.
Learn about supporting a mother emotionally.Many women prefer doulas as they're more personal than doctors and medical professionals. Therefore, the emotional support you provide will be a big part of your job. During training, pay attention to instructions on how to care for a mother emotionally.
- Techniques vary by training program. In some programs, you will learn in a classroom setting. You may learn a bit about basic psychology, and receive lectures from experienced, certified doulas. Take notes and stay attentive. You want to know how to develop your emotional intelligence for the job.
- For some programs, you may work with an experienced doula during postpartum care or childbirth. Pay attention to how this doulas provides support. How does she ease the stress for the mother?
Pay attention to the medical aspects of your training.This is especially important if you're training to become a birth doula. You will have classes on the anatomy of labor, as well as medical interventions like epidurals.
- You want to have a heavy amount of medical knowledge as a doula. You should be able to help a mother form a birth plan, and answer any questions along the way. Medical expertise is also necessary to successfully deliver a baby.
- There will probably be a great deal of required reading regarding childbirth, labor, and so on. Read all textbooks carefully and ask instructors if you have any questions. You should leave doula training prepared to answer medical questions regarding childbirth.
Gather any necessary paperwork after completing training.The length of training programs vary. Some may take only a few months, while others will take a year or more. Upon completion of your training, you can become certified. You may need certain documents from your program to obtain certification.
- For example, if you got certified through a DONA or Birth Arts International program, you will need to submit a variety of forms confirming you completed the necessary training. Once you've submitted these forms, you can expect to receive your certification.
- The best way to figure what forms you need is to ask at your training program. Someone should be able to tell you which forms, if any, you need to become certified.
Obtain your certification.Once you've completed your training program, you can become certified. Each program has different requirements for certification. Upon completing your program, an advisor in your program should be able to tell you what steps you need to take to gain your official certification.
- In some programs, you may be presented with certification on the last day, or at a graduation ceremony. For others, you may need to mail in paperwork to receive your certification.
Beginning Your Career
Gain experience as a volunteer doula.See if you can find a program that takes on doulas as volunteers. Volunteering can be a great way to help mothers who cannot afford a doula. It can also help you gain experience while establishing yourself professionally.
- Look for programs in your area. Contact a local hospital and see if they offer such programs.
- Programs vary greatly. You may be set up with a mother for the weeks leading up to birth. However, you may also be on-call. You may be called in to assist with a birth at any point while signed up as a volunteer.
Advertise your services in the right places.You should make flyers, brochures, and business cards that advertise your services as a doula. Start placing your ads in places you're likely to find expectant mothers.
- Hospital settings can be great places to put up your brochures. An OB-GYN's office may not be a good options, as mothers here are likely going the traditional route. However, see if you can place brochures at services that conduct things like ultrasounds.
- You can also look into places like daycare centers, community centers for children and mothers, and stores that sell baby supplies.
- Always ask before putting up advertisements.
Create an office space.If you want to look professional, you should have an office space in your home. Clear out a room and put a desk in it, and make sure to hang up your certification and anything else that showcases your training and expertise. You can conduct meetings here with potential clients.
- An office can give you legitimacy. Clients may be more comfortable working with someone who maintains a professional atmosphere.
- Consider taking a business education program or client attraction training to further develop your business.
- Maintain regular business hours. This can also make you look professional.
Be respectful of your patients.As a doula, your job is to work with mothers. You want to be respectful of things like birth plans, as well as plans for postpartum care. Make sure you keep communication between you and your patients open and honest.
- Emotional support is a big part of your role as a doula. Many women and families opt for doulas over doctors as they believe doulas will be less clinical and cold in their approach. Therefore, be as kind as you can to expectant mothers and families. Make sure to be emotionally intelligent in addition to being knowledgable of childbirth and postpartum care.
- Doulas work with parents no matter their birth choices, c-sections, epidurals, natural births and VBAC. Always be supportive of mothers and their birth plans.
- Being a doula is about support the parents and their choices by offering education and support.
- Doulas can work all over the world, and support women in home birth, birth centers and hospital birth settings.
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