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Frequently Asked Questions

By | FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

How Are We Different?

What makes CBI different from all the other training organizations?
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Starting Out

What do the different types of birth professionals do and how much do they earn?
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About the Courses

How do you support me while training, how do I start and how long does it take to complete?
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About Payments

What does training and certification cost, how can I pay and what if I want a refund?
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About Our Trainers

How much support will you get from your trainer? Who are your trainers?
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Course Delivery

How do you access your course, what do you receive and how do you submit work?
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Certification Requirements

What do I need to do to become certified in each course? Are there any prerequisites or limits?
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Legal and Insurance

What legal and insurance requirements affect birth professionals?
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Payment Plan Problems

Problems with your existing payment plan?
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Starting Out

By | FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Starting out

What is a Birth Doula?

A Birth Doula describes a person who provides information, emotional and physical support for a woman during pregnancy, labor and birth. At every birth you support, your role will be slightly different, depending on the needs of your client. For some women your role will be one of loving support and comfort. For another it will be assisting her to empower herself and advocate for her own choices. For another woman it will be to provide information. Most women you work with will want a combination of different things from their doula.

Generally, you’ll perform the following, depending on what your client’s looking for: massage, relaxation, and other comfort measures, information on options available, some childbirth education, a listening ear, reassurance and encouragement. You might also help a mother to develop skills that enable her to communicate more effectively with her caregivers, understand research related to different interventions, and build her decision-making skills.

What is Postpartum Doula?

A postpartum or postnatal doula helps the mother in caring for her baby and in running the household. You might be employed by families who have just welcomed their first baby or who are adding to their growing family. You might be employed to help with twins or even triplets. You might work with one family for several months or for just a few weeks to help ease their load. You might work overnight to enable the parents to get some much needed rest or you might work during the daytimes.

Depending on what the mother needs, you’ll support her in a number of ways. You can assist the new mother with breastfeeding, help care for and play with older children, help the mother find ways to organize her home so it better suits her needs, prepare healthy snacks and family meals, provide an extra set of hands for the new baby so the mother can rest and recover, help her with comforting or bathing the baby, or carrying out some household tasks like washing and light housekeeping. As you guide parents through those early days with their new baby, you’ll help them to find what works best for them and support them in finding their own parenting style.

What is a Childbirth Educator?

Childbirth educators, or antenatal teachers, may run a variety of classes to suit the needs of your clients. You might offer childbirth classes for expecting parents, early pregnancy classes, pre-conception classes, classes specially designed for teens, siblings, fathers-to-be, single parents or mothers planning a VBAC, a cesarean, an epidural or who might be experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. You can also teach parenting classes or breastfeeding classes.

As a childbirth educator you can determine the format of the classes that work best for you and your clients while pursuing opportunities in your local area. Childbirth International will help you by providing sample curricula for teaching your classes while you also have the freedom to teach the content that best benefits your clients in the style and format that works for you. You’ll learn how to teach classes that are interactive and fun, focusing on adult teaching techniques throughout your training.

What is a Breastfeeding Counselor?

A breastfeeding or lactation counselor helps women who want to breastfeed. You may be working with a mother in late pregnancy to teach her the basics and identify potential problems. You may be working with mothers who are just getting started with their newborns and are experiencing difficulties or with mothers who have older babies or children.

As a breastfeeding counselor you are likely to encounter a range of challenges and difficulties that might include positioning problems, nipple or breast pain, thrush, engorgement, mastitis, or low supply or oversupply. You might be working with mothers who want help with weaning, who are returning to work, whose baby is hospitalized or who would like to continue breastfeeding through a pregnancy and after the new baby arrives.

How much can I earn?

There are large differences in how much birth professionals earn. It depends on where you live, the women you are supporting, and the package of support that you provide. The following amounts are based on a birth professional working in a city in a developed country. Birth professionals living in remote areas or developing countries may have very different payment schedules.

As a general guideline a birth doula who provides 2 prenatal visits, support during labor and birth, and 2 postpartum visits could expect to earn between US$600 and US$1,200. If the women you’re working with are of low income or experiencing financial difficulties, you might charge a lower rate or offer alternative forms of payment, such as reduced fees, sliding scale or barter of services.

Postpartum doulas generally charge an hourly rate of between $15-$45 an hour. If you’re working overnight with a family, or providing support for older siblings or twins, you might charge a higher fee.

Childbirth educators usually charge around $150-$750 for a full course. If you’re providing private classes, or specialist classes, you might be charging more.

A breastfeeding counselor will typically charge per consultation which may range from $50-$100 per hour. If you’re providing long term breastfeeding support for a mother you might offer a package fee for a fixed number of hours.

Where can I find clients?

When you first start you might be concerned about how you’re going to find your clients. Formulating a plan of how you’re going to advertise and promote your business starts you off on the right foot. The Business of Birth module, included in all our courses, provides a thorough understanding of establishing and building a business. If you live in an area where women haven’t heard of doulas or childbirth classes, your first step is going to be to publicize the role and importance of a doula or childbirth educator within your own community. Woman might like the idea of having someone else to assist them during labor, but have no idea about how to find that person. It’s hard to explain, but clients seem to find you when the time is right, or when you’re ready to start taking them on. This seems odd, but somehow, the clients appear when you feel prepared enough to begin working with them. This has been the case for all our students to date, whether they’re living in New York City, or an African town!

You are your own best advertisement. Tell everyone you meet what it is that you do. Remember that every person you meet could know someone who’s pregnant, or have a pregnant partner, daughter, sister or friend, or be planning a pregnancy themselves in the future. Focus on promoting the role of a doula, childbirth educator or breastfeeding counselor. Most people you meet will never have heard of a doula, or have thought about one for themselves. The first impression you make could be the difference between getting a client and not! In addition, your trainers are available on discussion forums for additional ideas that are unique to your situation.

Do I need to attend a workshop?

Not at all! You can complete all your training through Childbirth International with your trainer’s support, using your written student manuals, and the student website. We believe you need time to absorb the amount of information and develop the skills you need to be really great at what you do.

Our written study guides walk you through the techniques available to help the women you will work with. The discussion groups provide you with a peer support network to explore different issues related to your work, and provide you with support from other students, graduates and trainers.

Your trainer will provide feedback on all the work you submit, supporting you no matter how long it takes to complete your course. Most of the hands on skills that a birth professional learns are built over time and with experience. Every woman you work with will have different needs and preferences. As part of a worldwide network of birth and postpartum doulas, childbirth educators and breastfeeding counselors you’ll be able to access ideas, tips and strategies for helping you in your work and in building your business. In addition to the Childbirth International training, trainers in your area may offer study days. These are a complement to the training course and focus on some of the hands on skills and topics that can be beneficial to learn in a face to face environment.

If you’d like more direct support, our trainers are also available for private mentoring. You can choose the number of hours of mentoring that you’d like and your mentor will contact you via Skype to answer all your questions and guide you through any challenges you are experiencing.

About the Courses

By | FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

About the courses

Start Anytime

Childbirth International is the only training organization for birth professionals where you have immediate access to all your training materials as soon as you register. Within a few minutes you can be logged on to the student website and starting your journey! Once you’ve chosen a course, and your payment has been processed, you’ll be sent a confirmation email. This will contain confirmation of your order, together with links for logging on to the student website. You’ll then be taken directly to the student website where you can log in and access the student materials.

If you choose to pay by one payment with printed course manuals, your student materials will be posted to you. Within the USA, they usually arrive within 5-7 days. Students living outside the USA usually receive their student materials within 2-3 weeks. If choose the Green option, you will immediate access to your course materials through the student website. Please note, online course manuals cannot be printed out. If you pay by installments, your written student manuals will be sent to you once the final installment is made. In the meantime you’ll have access to all the student materials online through the student website. You can choose to pay off the balance on your account at any time to receive your written manuals straight away.

Course Length

It depends on how much time you have available. If at any time you need to take a break, you can. There are no time limits imposed for you to complete your course by.

As an estimate, if you study for 10 hours each week, the birth doula and postpartum doula courses will take you 4-7 months to complete. This would include the time it takes for you to complete the study workbooks, and assumes that you complete the course requirements for supporting women in that time. This is similar to other programs once you take into account attending their workshops, supporting at your certifying births and completing their certification requirements.

As an estimate, if you study for 10 hours each week, the childbirth educator and breastfeeding counselor courses will take you 10-15 months to complete. This would include the time it takes for you to complete the study workbooks, and assumes that you meet the support and class requirements for these courses in that time.

Charging Fees

We don’t have a policy that places restrictions on how much you can charge or whether or not you have to charge. This is an individual choice. We encourage you to look at your costs and determine a fee that would be appropriate for you and your clients.

If you choose to offer “free” services, you’ll still have the costs associated with running your business (childcare, telephone etc.) and some clients might not value your service as much as they would if they were paying for it. Having said that, this is your business, and you can run it however your choose, whether that is a full fee, a reduced fee while training, barter or sliding scales. No boundaries!


There are no international bodies that recognize a standard of training for birth doulas, postpartum doulas, childbirth educators or breastfeeding counselors at this point in time. The only accreditation or recognition bodies that exist have all been established by training organizations and therefore cannot be seen as truly overseeing the profession in an independent way. We are currently in the process of applying for accreditation to issue continuing education credits which will take several months. We are also working on establishing competencies for all birth professionals which will be completed by the end of 2018.

Student Support

Supporting students is the most important thing we do! Once you’ve registered as a student you won’t be forgotten. Your trainer will be assigned to you once you start and she’ll contact you within a few days to introduce herself. Every time you submit a piece of work it will be your trainer who reviews it, provides feedback and guidance and assesses it. She’ll continue to review and assess every assignment you submit, no matter how long it takes you to complete your course.

We also provide a number of discussion groups for you to participate in and connect with students, graduates and trainers from all over the world. These groups will encourage exploration of new ideas, respectful debate and support new birth professionals with suggestions.

After Graduation

Once you’ve completed your training, Childbirth International will still be there to support you. If you experience a tough birth, need help and guidance on some aspect of your business, or experience personal difficulties, you can contact your trainer or the Customer Support team anytime.

If you’d like more support, trainers are available for private mentoring. You choose how many hours of mentoring you’d like and a trainer will contact you via Skype. Mentoring can be helpful if you’re looking for more support in completing your coursework, ideas for motivation or becoming more organized, or guidance in issues related to your clients or business.

If you would like to continue with professional development, we have a range of short and certification courses available.

Course Costs and Discounts

By | FAQ

Course Costs and Discounts

Birth Doula Course Costs
  • Printed One Payment: $660 (+ shipping)
  • Green One Payment: $620
  • Printed Five Installments: $142/month for 5 months (+ shipping)
  • Green Five Installments: $134/month for 5 months
Postpartum Doula Course Costs
  • Printed One Payment: $660 (+ shipping)
  • Green One Payment: $620
  • Printed Five Installments: $142/month for 5 months (+ shipping)
  • Green Five Installments: $134/month for 5 months
Childbirth Educator Course Costs
  • Printed One Payment: $945 (+ shipping)
  • Green One Payment: $905
  • Printed Five Installments: $199/month for 5 months (+ shipping)
  • Green Five Installments: $191/month for 5 months
Breastfeeding Counselor Course Costs
  • Printed One Payment: $945 (+ shipping)
  • Green One Payment: $905
  • Printed Five Installments: $199/month for 5 months (+ shipping)
  • Green Five Installments: $191/month for 5 months

If you choose more than one of our training and certification programs when you register you’ll be given a discount.

  • Two courses: discount of 15%
  • Three courses: discount 20%
  • Four courses: discount 25%

If you want to register with your friends or colleagues you will qualify for a 15% discount. Provided you are all studying the same course, the discount will be applied at the checkout.

If you are already a CBI student, any future certification courses you take will be valid for a 15% discount.

Online and Printed Options

The online Green option gives you full access to your course materials through the student website and eliminates the printing and shipping costs of paper manuals. If you decide at a later date that you’d like the manuals, you can purchase them and have these shipped to you. The Green option is available as both one payment and as monthly installments paid over five months.

Our Printed option gives you full access to your course materials through the student website, and we also send you a printed version of your course materials. The Printed option is available as both one payment and as monthly installments paid over five months. The cost of shipping is calculated when you enroll in your course and is dependent on where you live. If you choose installments, your printed manuals are sent to you when the final payment is completed. You can always choose to pay off the balance of your account and receive your printed manuals straight away.

All Inclusive

Calculating your training costs is easy. The cost includes all your training materials, trainer support, and access to the student website. Course costs are all inclusive. There are no hidden fees, no workshop fees, no examination or certification fees, and no membership or recertification fees. You don’t need to purchase additional videos or materials. The only additional cost will be if you choose to purchase new or second-hand books for your required reading but many of our students can easily find books from the reading list at their local library.

Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grants

We don’t offer financial aid, scholarships, or military grants. If paying for your training is a financial struggle, there are several options open to you. First, we offer installment plans so you can pay over 5 months. You’ll have immediate access to all the course materials through the student website, and if you chose the printed option, your written training materials will be sent to you as soon as the final installment is made. If you decide to pay the balance early, you can do so at any time to receive your written materials straight away. If the installments are out of your reach financially, consider starting with two clients and using the income from that to finance your training. If your employer would like to pay for your training, give us a call to chat about your options.


It can be scary to commit to a full training and certification program online. To help you decide if this is the right training program for you, we offer a refund option. As soon as you register for a course you can view the course materials through the student website. If you decide the course isn’t what you’re looking for, contact us in writing within 48 hours of registering and we’ll issue a full refund (less a $50 administration fee).

Secure Payment Options

We use Stripe and PayPal to process all our payments. Your payment information is encrypted on their secure website so your credit card details are safe. We don’t store your credit card information on our site at all, so no-one is able to access your account or take your credit card information from our records. You can use Visa, Mastercard, or American Express to process your payment. If you don’t have a credit or debit card you can use Paypal Bank Transfer.

Course Delivery

By | FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Course delivery

How do I do the course without a workshop?

When you first register as a student you’ll have access to all your course materials online, meaning you can be up and running within a few minutes. All your training materials are provided to you online through our unique learning system. At the time of enrolling, you can decide whether you want to work online (Green option), or have printed manuals as well. If you choose the printed manuals they are sent once your payments are all completed and become part of your professional library for future reference. Each study workbook contains information on the topic, together with activities for you to work through to grasp a deeper understanding of the topic.

During your training you’ll work with women in order to gain experience. You’ll use these experiences to develop and practice hands-on skills that you learn about in your study workbooks. The peer group support that you receive, and the strong trainer and mentor support, will reinforce your learning. You’ll be directed to online readings that give you new ideas on ways that you can support women through pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.

Within a few days of registering as a student we’ll assign a trainer to you. Your trainer has direct experience with flexible learning and has developed many strategies for helping you learn the practical skills you need as a birth professional. She’ll be a certified and experienced birth professional herself, who has also studied our courses, and can guide you through your training. In addition to your student manuals, you’ll be given access to our student discussion forums, providing you with peer group support from other students around the world.

At the end of your training, on successful completion of all course requirements, you’ll be a certified birth professional and receive a certificate to recognize your hard work. There is no need to pay for membership or recertify with Childbirth International – your accreditation is for life!

We encourage you to continually learn new skills, develop your own understanding of issues related to pregnancy, birth and parenting, and to keep up-to-date with research.  You might choose to take advantage of our ongoing advanced training programs. Or, once you have established your business as a professional, you might like to expand your skills and services. For example, as a birth doula, you can train as a childbirth educator, a postpartum doula or a breastfeeding counselor. Our training is flexible enough to fit around your other commitments. All students and graduates receive a 15% discount on their future courses.

How do I submit my work?

All the assignments and evaluations that you need to submit for certification are uploaded through our student website. These are automatically passed to your trainer who provides feedback and assesses your work. You can follow your progress through your course and see how much you’ve got left to complete. Your trainer can help you with suggestions for study and organization skills if you’re new to distance learning or find it difficult to stay on top of your training. There are no time limits for completing your course. You’ll continue to have access to the student website for as long as you’re a student, and once you’ve certified you’ll still be able to access all the materials online.

Do I need special Internet skills?

Don’t worry about having to have in depth Internet knowledge or specialized computer skills in order to complete your course. Provided you’re able to send a basic email you’ll be fine. Our student website is very easy to use and you’re guided through the course every step of the way. If you choose the printed option when you enrol your student manuals will also be posted to you (once your final payment is made) so you don’t need to have access to the Internet all the time. The website has the additional materials like online readings, and with just a few clicks you can find everything you need.

Do I receive printed manuals?

You’ll always have online access to your course materials, but many students prefer working from a paper version of their course materials. Unless you choose the green option when you enrol, your course manuals will also be posted to you.

For the Birth Doula and Postpartum Doula courses there are four manuals – Communication Skills, Physiology, Birth/Postpartum Doula Skills, and the Business of Birth module, comprising more than 750 pages of information. For the Childbirth Educator and Breastfeeding Counselor courses there are four manuals – Communication Skills, Physiology, Counseling/Teaching Skills, and the Business of Birth module, comprising more than 1,000 pages of information.

When you first register for a course, we’ll ask for your delivery address and will calculate the shipping cost. If you choose to pay for your course in one payment, you’re manuals will be ordered once you register (allow about 1 week for delivery within the USA and Canada and 2-3 weeks for other countries). If you choose to pay by installments you’ll receive your manuals when the final installment is made. You can pay the balance of your account early if you’d like to receive your manuals sooner.

We also offer a “Green” option for students who prefer to work online and not have the additional costs of printing and shipping.

Can I do the course without a computer?

You could complete this course without having full time access to a computer and the Internet. One of our students completed her studies while traveling around the world on a yacht! You’ll need Internet access to submit course work and to view the online readings. If you’re paying by installments, you’ll need Internet access until your payments are completed and your printed course materials are sent to you. Some students use the local library for Internet access on an occasional basis whenever they need to submit work. Others go once a week and print off all the online readings for the section they’re covering that week. Some use a friend’s computer. You could also use a smartphone or tablet if it has word processing functionality, although it is more difficult to do a lot of reading from a smaller screen. You’ll need to have an email address in order to register and for us to generate a username and password to give you access to the student website.

If you choose the Green option when you enrol you will have to have a computer to access all your course materials. Please note, the online course manuals cannot be printed off.

Certification Requirements

By | FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Certification requirements

Are there any prerequisites?

None at all! Being a birth professional is about using your skills to help parents have the births they desire, be the parents they wish to be and communicate effectively with their caregivers. The skills required to enable you to do this are covered in your training. You don’t need to have experience as a nurse or midwife in order to be a great birth professional. Some students have had children themselves, others haven’t. There are no prerequisites for you to study with Childbirth International. It doesn’t matter how many children you have had (or maybe you have not had any), it doesn’t matter if you’ve never experienced a vaginal birth, or if you’ve never breastfed.

Are there any age limits?

Anybody can study with Childbirth International, whether they are aged 16 or 65 (or older!) We recognize that everyone has unique skills and experiences that can make them the perfect birth professional for a specific type of client. For example, in the Birth Doula field, as a younger doula you might be the perfect support for young women looking for peer support. As an older doula, you might be the perfect support for someone looking for life experience. Every birth professional has something different to offer.

Do you recognize previous experience?

Your previous experience can be enormously beneficial in your training as a birth professional. Perhaps you’ve completed other doula training programs, or have been working as a birth professional for some time. You might have experience as a nurse or a midwife. Whatever your experience or previous training, it can help you to understand some of the concepts covered in your birth professional training.

If you’ve certified with another organization, or have experience as a birth professional, we welcome you to CBI! We have many experienced professionals who join us – some of our graduates chose CBI even after they had 20-30 years experience! Our goal is to build on what you already know, and help you to become a more knowledgeable and effective professional.

Is Childbirth International training recognized in my local hospital?

We’re often asked whether the training that you complete will be recognized by hospitals. If you’re self employed, and have been hired directly by parents as an independent practitioner, this doesn’t appear to be a problem anywhere in the world. If you come across a hospital that requires a specific training organization, we can provide you with written details of the training you’ve undergone with Childbirth International, indicating the depth and quality of training. To date, no Childbirth International student or graduate has been denied the opportunity to work in a hospital because their training didn’t meet hospital requirements.

What assignments will I have to complete?

All students submit a communication assignment to demonstrate their proficiency in reflective practice. Your trainer will provide feedback and guidance on your draft assignment and then you’ll submit a final version.

Each course has a series of online physiology exams to demonstrate your knowledge of both normal and abnormal conditions. These are open book exams.

Once you’ve worked with women in your role, you’ll submit evaluations, completed by yourself, to outline your learning from the experience and how you will apply that to your future work. You don’t need to submit evaluations from clients or medical caregivers. We’re interested in the learning you took from the experience! Every student carries out a survey of resources in their local community.

Each course has a number of books that must be read and a book review completed. There are more than 150 books to choose from on the reading list. There are no compulsory texts that you have to read – you can choose the books from the list that appeal to you and are relevant to the women you will be working with. Books must be read after you start your training and must be new to you – you cannot write a review about a book you read previously, even if you re-read it. You can view the reading list here.

Finally, the Childbirth Educator and Breastfeeding Counselor courses have a number of smaller assignments for completing a teaching plan (Childbirth Educator) and case studies (Childbirth Educator and Breastfeeding Counselor).

Once I have certified, do I have to keep paying membership and recertification fees?

We don’t require you to pay membership and recertification fees in order to stay certified.

We provide training – and we’re really good at it! Similar to a university program, you deserve to have your hard work acknowledged for life! We’re not going to charge you every three years to prove that you still have the knowledge and skills that you built. We also will not charge you to continue to belong to CBI – your membership is lifelong.

If you need to show recertification in order to belong to a local organization (e.g. DASC) can do so – you can submit the required documents for proof, we will review them and reissue your certification – showing it is a recertification. And we’ll do this for a minimum fee that just covers our costs.

Legal and Insurance

By | FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Legal and insurance

Will I need insurance?

Many new birth professionals worry about their responsibilities and liability. Birth doulas, postpartum doulas, childbirth educators and breastfeeding counselors don’t carry out any clinical tasks (such as taking blood pressure, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, doing a vaginal examination, etc). These are solely the responsibility of the midwife or doctor chosen by the mother. Birth professionals also don’t give medical advice. Your role is to provide information to the mother if she wants it, and to support her in her choices. There should never be a situation in which the birth professional is seen as clinically liable or responsible for outcomes.
Medical indemnity or malpractice insurance is not available for birth professionals as they aren’t medical caregivers. Some insurance companies offer doula insurance but this is different from medical indemnity or malpractice insurance. During your training you will learn how to avoid situations that increase your liability.

Should I have a contract with my clients?

This is very much a personal choice. Some birth professionals feel more comfortable with a contract, while others are very happy working without one. A contract between a birth professional and a client generally covers your role and responsibilities, discusses backup in case you are unavailable, and goes through the payment agreement. It can be helpful for making sure that each of these issues are discussed with clients. It’s better to leave a contract with a client, or email a copy of it to them before you meet them, so they have an opportunity to read it thoroughly and ask any questions before signing it. We provide sample contracts that you’re free to use with your clients and edit accordingly. Many birth professionals work without contracts and have no problems with this. Whether you choose to have a contract or not, it’s important that the terms of payment and the responsibilities are clearly understood by the client in order to avoid any problems later on.

Can clients claim my fees on their insurance?

Many insurance companies are aware of the improved outcomes and subsequent cost savings that come from using a birth professional. Many of them are already providing coverage for doulas, childbirth classes or breastfeeding counselors. If a client’s insurance company doesn’t include birth professionals as one of the services they can claim for, the client can write to the insurance company, quoting the improved outcomes and cost savings. An insurance company will usually require an invoice issued by the birth professional to the clients. They might also require specific information to be included – the client can find out what’s necessary by contacting their insurance company directly. Some birth professionals bill insurance companies directly. If you’re living in the United States, and wish to do this, you may be required to comply with HIPAA guidelines. We provide information about this on our student website.