How To Become A Doula

I get asked all the time, "how can I become a doula like you??"

To be totally honest, the answer is not really simple!

First, you need to decide what kind of doula you want to be. Do you envision yourself being a doula that primarily attends hospital births, or do you see yourself more so running with the freebirthers, or maybe both? This is an important question to start with, because you don't want to certify with someone that won't allow you to do BOTH.

Ask yourself if you will be a full-time doula, or if this will be more of a hobby for you. If you intend to use your doula career as a source of income, you need to start thinking like a business owner, because you will be. What style business do you want to run? Start thinking about your business name, how you want to represent yourself, your marketing plans, etc. How will this impact your current job, your childcare, your spouse? Consider the fact that most births pick up pace in the middle of the night, when most normal people are sleeping. Birth work requires odd hours, sleepless nights, and for me, a decent amount of caffeine. This kind of work is not meant for everyone, and even if you aren't doing birth work, you are still able to support women in other fields, such as childbirth education, lactation counseling, postpartum services, and more.

There are ZERO federal & state regulations on the doula career. You are not required to go through any specific training program, or become a doula a specific way, like if you were to become a nurse or a midwife or something that has clear licensing qualifications and standards. The reason why people choose to become certified is to be educated by that preferred training program, often have the mentorship of their trainers and other fellow trainees/graduates, have something to prove to their clients that they did train, and show other birth professionals that they have a code of ethics to abide by.

Then, you should decide what, if any, training organization you would like to go through! There are so very many available. You want to choose one that jives with your lifestyle and that you can feel confident to represent what you stand for, as well as one that is within your budget!

When looking at different training organizations consider and ask about the:

-Code of ethics

-Scope of practice


-Tuition fees

-Annual fees

-Certification fees

-What mentorship and student resources they have available

-What the certification process is

-Certification turn-around time

-How long you will have access to curriculum once you enroll

-Due dates and expiration dates of exams, projects, fees, etc

-How available the founders are to you if you need to reach them (example: do they have a chain of command that you need to go through for weeks before reaching them, or would you have a direct contact? Are there groups available that the founders are active in?)

My personally preferred training organization is: H.E.R.B.A.L.

Why would I recommend HERBAL over any other?

-It contains the most informative curriculum I have ever seen

-They offer in-person & online options

-It is run by two moms that are actively participating in Doula & Birthkeeping Services, not someone who used to do it, but doesn't anymore, or someone who only serves hospital births for example. HERBAL professionals serve all settings.

-The student group is amazing. There is a huge variety of birth workers within it, that are very active and constantly sharing resources and supporting each other, like none other.

-There is no grossly limiting scope, with threats to strip certification for going outside that scope. If you are knowledgable on herbs, essential oils, and more, and want to incorporate those modalities into your birth work, you are welcome to do so.

-It is truly holistically and human rights oriented. Some organizations claim to be natural-minded, while insisting that their doulas get vaccinated to "protect" clients, promote circumcision even though it is not evidence-based, and refuse to let their doulas attend unassisted births for the sake of "liability."

-It is AFFORDABLE. What aspiring birth worker can afford to put $1,000-$8000 in before ever even taking paid births? HERBAL's Birthkeeper program does not have any additional hidden costs beyond their tuition fee. You can choose to take their online program exclusively for $333, or attend in-person for $555.

Many have told me that they regret the training program they originally chose to go through, that they only went through it because they did not know there were other options. Good news is, that there are! I also personally went through a couple organizations that weren't awful, but did not provide the thorough education that I was after. The most helpful education that I had when I was a fresh doula, was from a local midwife that was primarily training midwife assistants, but also gave very helpful information in becoming a doula, as she did both traditional midwifery and doula work.

If you have already gone through a training organization that you were displeased with, HERBAL can adopt you, too! HERBAL offers a significant discount for those cross-certifying, with code ADOPTME. Another thing that I really love about HERBAL is that they offer WOC partial scholarships, sales for military families, and more. HERBAL is truly about change, and not just your $$$$ change.

If you loved your training program, please share who you went through below, I would love to know who made you happy as an aspiring birth worker, and who started your doula career!

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