doula how to become

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on how long does it take to become a doula. Read on to learn more.We at collegelearners .com have all the information that you need about how much does it cost to become a doula. Read on to learn more.

doula how to become

Doula Education and Careers

Learn how to become a doula with the right education program.

doula practices massage on expectant mother

A doula provides information, physical and emotional support, and advocacy for women and their partners during and after the birth process.

Unlike other practitioners such as obstetricians, nurses, and midwives, those with doula training do not give medical advice or have clinical duties.

However, they provide critical support and assistance during labor and birth, making the process easier for the midwife and the mother-to-be.

Career Overview

“Doula” is a word coined from ancient Greek, meaning “a woman who serves.” And whether a doula is male or female, that is what a professional with doula training does—helps the mother and her family during birth or the postpartum period.

A birth doula provides emotional support during labor and assists with breathing, positioning and relaxation. A postpartum doula supports the entire family during the transition of caring for a new baby, providing education and information as well as newborn care and household assistance. Doulas may be hired directly by clients, they may work for a clinic or hospital, or they may be volunteers.

Education for Doulas

What You’ll Study in Doula School

If you’re wondering how to become a doula, the answer is easy: certification and doula training. A birth doula must attend childbirth education, breastfeeding and birth doula classes, as well as observe a specified number of births. A postpartum doula also studies principles of home visitation and how to care for infants and mothers. Both types of doula will learn about cultural diversity, ethics and business practices.

Average Length of Doula Study

Typically, a birth doula needs to finish 7 to 12 hours of childbirth education, 16 hours of birth doula training, and attend at two to five births. A postpartum doula usually attends about 27 hours of postpartum doula education and assists two or more women with postpartum support. Some distance learning programs are available.

Average Doula School Tuition

Childbirth education and doula training courses generally cost between $300 and $500 total. There may also be additional expenses associated with breastfeeding classes, reading materials, organization membership, and certification fees.

Doula Certification

Doula certification is available from doula training programs and childbirth education organizations, such as DONA International or Birth Arts International. Though it’s not always required, certification can open up a wider range of job opportunities and instill confidence in your clients. In particular, if you are looking for work with a hospital or birth center, you will need to hold appropriate professional credentials.

Career Outlook

The career forecast is positive for those with doula training. Midwives and nurse-midwives are in increasing demand, with the practice of nurse-midwifery legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The American College of Nurse-Midwives reports that their goal was to have 20% of non-Cesarean births attended by nurse-midwives by 2020. DONA International, which is just one of several professional doula organizations, has more than 6,000 members from around the world.

Doula Salary

A doula’s salary varies greatly depending on geographic location, how much training and experience you have, and how many hours of work you do per week. However, fees for birth doulas generally run between $250 and $1000. You can search for nurse midwife salaries by state here:Nurse Midwives

National data

Median Salary: $111,130

Bottom 10%: $67,710

Top 10%: $179,770

Projected job growth: 11.3%

State data

StateMedian SalaryBottom 10%Top 10%
District of Columbia$83,010$58,350$125,170
New Hampshire$114,350$88,820$153,860
New Jersey$117,320$89,680$153,330
New Mexico$109,140$78,370$135,700
New York$119,250$88,760$169,010
North Carolina$103,340$72,300$132,510
Rhode Island$108,840$72,880$144,770
West Virginia$128,170$60,630$180,820

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Doula?

Deciding to become a doula is a significant and pivotal moment in a woman’s life. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding which route to take to get trained and start your doula career. 

One question that can impact your decision is, “How long does it take to become a doula?”

That’s up to you and the pace at which you complete your training. However, it usually takes less than a year to go through all the steps.

First, you have to attend a doula training and certification program to learn the ins and outs of what a doula does. Then you have to attend several births as an observer. Finally, you can doula for your first client.

Depending on which training program you choose and whether you decide to keep and maintain certification, there are various routes to the same goal. So, let’s break them down!

In today’s blog, we are going to go over what most doula training programs consist of, how they compare, and the time commitment you can expect based on the training you take. 

Many organizations follow a similar structure. If you want to start the process of becoming a doula, so you can help other woman access the many benefits of a doula for childbirth, we will link to several doula training programs that we know and trust. 

How long it takes to get your doula certification

how long does it take to become a doula

All doula training programs have a similar structure and can range in how long you have to complete them. Some have a 12 month maximum, and some have no time limit for completion.

Most doula training consists of a one or two day training course, and then a list of requirements for the final certification. Depending on the doula’s motivation and availability, it could take as little as one month, or as long as a couple of years.

I am breaking down the requirements for 5 major doula certification organizations below, but here is the general idea how long it will take to get your doula certification. 

Doula training program

To start the path of being a certified labor doula, you need an initial training program. Doula training is available online and self-paced, through in-person workshops, or a mix of the two.

This training will teach you all about what a doula does, and how to support your clients. You’ll learn comfort measures, how to provide physical and emotional support, labor and birth physiology, the basics to get a doula business up and running, and a few other topics, depending on which organization you choose. 

Attend and evaluate 2 or 3 births

Technically, there are no training requirements to be a doula. The doula industry is not medical, and therefore, it is not regulated. Anyone can say “Hey, I am a doula,” and they are a doula. 

We definitely do NOT suggest doing that. Getting trained and certified as a doula benefits your clients and your business. However, after you complete a comprehensive training program, you can start attending births. 

All organizations require you to attend 2 or 3 births as the primary doula. You will either submit your self-reflections, or ask your client to fill out an evaluation of their experience with you. 

Required reading, quizzes, assignments, etc.

Each organization differs on the additional requirements for certification, which will affect how long it takes you to complete. You can expect to be assigned a fair amount of reading, writing, studying, creating documents, and even practical applications of your skills.

How long it takes to become a doula is up to you

doula and father assisting woman in water birth

It takes however long you want it to take! There are training and certification programs to suit every need, lifestyle, and method of delivery. 

Let’s take a look at each one below. 

Comparison of Doula Training Organizations

100% Online?YesNoYesNoYes
Birth RequirementsAttend 2 births as primary doula; Provide prenatal & postpartum support for at least 1Attend 2 birthsAttend 3 birthsAttend 3 births within 12 monthsAttend 2 births as primary doula within 12 months of registering
Client EvaluationsNot required (self-reflection only)3333
Childbirth CourseAudit one course seriesAudit one course seriesNot requiredNot requiredAudit one course series
Lactation CourseNot requiredAudit one course seriesNot requiredNot requiredNot required
Resource ListYesYesYesNot requiredYes
Assignments2 communication reflections; 1 physiology module evaluation1 essay and a business webinarOnline content to be completedNot required2 essays
ExamsBirth physiology examsNot requiredOpen book examsNot requiredNot required
ReadingsCritique 2 podcasts, videos, or articlesPosition papers and 7 books2 booklets and 5 booksVariesVaries
Letter of RecommendationNot requiredProfessional references from a client and a health professional Not required3 references, one must be video interviewedNot required
Time LimitNone4 years from workshop2 years from workshop18 months from workshop12 months to complete required participation in online forums
OtherNoneWebinar on businessNonePersonal video interviews; First Aid courseInfant/Child CPR certification; business strategy outline

Continuing Education for Doulas

doula assisting woman

Being a doula, it is important to keep up your education and training. There are many options for additional doula training and specialization, all of which can contribute to a higher doula salary.

The two I would ABSOLUTELY recommend taking as a career doula are:

Stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula Training

Stillbirthday training is essential. You never know when you are going to have a client that has a pregnancy loss. Knowing how to support that need is critical for both yourself and your client. 

Be prepared for it ahead of time because learning while pregnancy loss is happening is one of the hardest things you might have to do as a doula. 

There are also many less intensive training courses that can teach you about using a rebozo during labor, how essential oils can help with common pregnancy ailments, how to use a TENS unit as a labor tool, and everything you can imagine. 

Being a doula means being a lifelong student, always learning and growing to better suit your clientele. 

About the author

Study on Scholarship Today -- Check your eligibility for up to 100% scholarship.