Birth Doula Training and Certification

About Birth Doula Training

Childbirth International’s accredited online birth doula training and certification will cover everything you need to have the confidence and skills to accompany parents on the exciting journey of pregnancy and birth. Your training program includes four modules: Communication Skills; Physiology of Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum; Being a Birth Doula; Building Your Business. You will have the flexibility to study whenever or wherever you want with the online student website or choose a printed set of paper course manuals which will make a valuable addition to your library. We are excited to join you on your path to becoming a birth doula!

Becoming a birth doula is so much more than encouraging words during labor. Most of the hard work is done well before labor ever starts! Choosing the right caregiver, preparing physically and emotionally for the arrival of a baby, dealing with unexpected events – all of these are things that a birth doula can help with. We make sure you have strong knowledge in all these areas and more. With ongoing support and guidance from your trainer together with a strong emphasis on evidence-based practice, you’ll be able to provide the very best support to your clients.

As part of your birth doula training program, you’ll have access to a worldwide network of other birth doulas and trainers. Whether you need tips on finding clients, how to help a specific client problem, or ideas for balancing your work and personal life, you’ll find support and guidance. This support will continue even after you finish your training!

Want to see how CBI compares to other birth doula training organizations?
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Join our Facebook group to learn more about options for Birth Doula training and certification: Becoming a Doula 

Certification: Certified Birth Doula

Duration: 4-7 months

Time Limit: None

Delivery: Online

Cost: From $680 or 5 payments of $146

Refunds: Full refund within 2 days, less administration fee ($50)

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One Payment: US$725 (printed manuals + online access)

Green Option: US$680 (online only – no shipping)

Five Installments: US$155 per month (printed manuals + online access) or US$146 per month (online only)

Payment plans (5 installments) include an administration fee of $10 per month.

If you choose the payment plan and the printed manual option, you will have immediate access to the course manuals on the student website and your paper manuals will be sent to you when the final payment is made.

  • Reflective Practice Assignment
  • Physiology exams (online, open book)
  • Birth evaluations for 2 clients
  • Childbirth class survey
  • Book reviews for 2 books
  • Module evaluations

Five Payments

US$ 155

per month for 5 monthsPay over five easy monthly installments with online access immediately and your paper manuals will be sent to you when the final payment is made. Monthly payments include an admin fee of $10.

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One Paymentmost popular

US$ 725

single paymentPay one single payment and receive your paper manuals as well as online access through the student website.

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Green Option

$ 680

one paymentBe gentle on the environment! Complete your course online and save money and trees! The Green Option is also available in monthly installments for $146 per month for 5 months.

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Course Syllabus

No other birth doula training program covers the same depth as Childbirth International. As well as the skills required for a Birth Doula, we also focus on strengthening your knowledge base of pregnancy and birth, developing communication skills, and building or growing your business.

Your birth doula training program includes four modules:

  • Communication Skills
  • Physiology in Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum
  • Being a Birth Doula
  • Building Your Business

Take a look at the topics below that are covered in your birth doula training. If you prefer to read it later, you can download the syllabus.

Communication Skills

Enhancing your communication skills enables you to build strong relationships with clients and caregivers alike. Many of you will work in challenging environments. During the course, you’ll explore these challenges and develop skills in building relationships with caregivers, without compromising your professionalism or your client’s wishes.

At the heart of every CBI training and certification program is reflective practice. But what exactly is “reflective practice”?

At its simplest, reflective practice is looking at what you’ve done, or didn’t do, and reflecting on it. In relation to CBI training, though, it’s so much more. Reflective practice is about examining choices and decisions, considering them from different perspectives, thinking about alternatives, learning from them, and then applying that learning to your work. It demonstrates best practice in continuing education, increases confidence and professionalism. It’s an incredibly valuable skill that you can pass on to your clients and help them to assimilate their experiences.

All CBI training programs have an ongoing reflective practice focus. In every assignment you submit, this will be evaluated by your trainer, providing you with feedback on this aspect and help you to see your own growth in this area. You’ll be encouraged to reflect on the language you use, your participation in discussions and how you approach every aspect of your work.

At the end of this module, you’ll write a reflective assignment that will be reviewed by your trainer who’ll provide feedback and assessment.

Topics in this module

  • effective communication
  • language and communication
  • active listening skills
  • reflective practice and debriefing
  • diversity & cultural humility
  • evidence-informed care and informed choice
  • grief and loss
  • professional practice
  • perspective and recognition

Becoming a Birth Doula

Birth doulas have the privilege of sharing a very special time with a family. This privilege comes with unparalleled rewards, but can sometimes include challenges!

In this module, you’ll explore the role of a birth doula and the benefits to the family of support at this time. You’ll also explore the stresses you might confront, and how these can be managed. You will learn all the steps to getting started as a birth doula and the equipment, forms and handouts that can help you on your journey.

You’ll look at your responsibilities at the different stages of working with a client – before the birth when you are working together to help them prepare, during labor, and the early postpartum period. Equally important, this module will help you manage your first client interviews and dealing with the stress of being on call.

Because your clients will sometimes have challenges, you’ll learn the different strategies to help during these. In particular, supporting clients during and after a cesarean, when a client chooses an epidural, birthing without the support of a partner, or giving a baby up for adoption.

Finally, you’ll consider different ways that you can establish yourself in a community and how to build peer relationships that help you find clients. The introduction to complementary therapies will provide you with a basic understanding of a range of therapies client’s might use. This module guides you through all the steps for how to become a birth doula!

Topics in this module

  • getting started as a doula (starting out, forms and handouts, finding clients etc.)
  • working with a client prenatally (including birth plans and debriefing)
  • working with a client during labor (positioning, hands-on skills, complementary therapies etc.)
  • adapting your role (homebirths, cesareans, epidurals etc.)
  • challenging births (posterior, precipitate, unexpected outcomes etc.)
  • working with a client postpartum
  • supporting clients in crisis
  • equipment, supplies, and documentation
  • alternative ways of working (self-employed, agencies, hospital-based etc.)

Pregnancy, Birth, and Early Postpartum

Understanding the normal physiology of pregnancy, labor, birth and the early postpartum period provides you with the knowledge you will need for working with pregnant clients. A strong understanding of physiology is an essential part of your birth doula training. The physiology module begins with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and stages of fetal development. Next, you will explore the normal processes during labor and birth and the early postpartum period.

Once you have a strong understanding of normal physiology, you will dig deeper into the concepts of active and expectant management of labor, and common routine interventions.

You will consider the importance of nutrition, exercise, and the risks of nutrition-related illnesses. We will explore the concept of pain during labor, its physiological purpose, and options available for pain relief.

With up to one-third of people having cesareans, it is important to understand the process of cesarean birth, ways to minimize the risk of a cesarean and the issues related to vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC).

As a birth doula, you’ll be supporting clients in the first few weeks after birth. In order to prepare for this, you will develop an understanding of lactation and discover tips for helping with the more common breastfeeding problems. Finally, you’ll look at prenatal testing and screening, and the ethical issues related to this.

Topics in this module

  • physiology of pregnancy
  • physiology of labor
  • postpartum period
  • nutrition and exercise
  • pain in labor
  • management of labor
  • routine procedures during labor
  • cesarean and VBAC
  • introduction to lactation
  • prenatal testing and screening

Building Your Business

The Building Your Business module provides you with everything you need to know about starting up, or growing, your business. We take away the daunting aspects of running a business and help you to find strategies to get started. With this in mind, our easy step-by-step process will soon have you on track with a business plan (that you understand!) and all the documentation you need for success.

This is an optional module and does not include any assignments. However, some students prefer to have more guidance. For this reason, we offer three different mentorship options that you can choose from.

Topics in this module

  • becoming a birth and parenting professional
  • determine your personal and business goals
  • learn marketing strategies such as segmentation, targeting, and positioning
  • develop a customer profile
  • analyze your competitors
  • determine your unique selling point
  • identify ways to broaden your products and services
  • develop your brand
  • learn the basics of website design
  • develop a social media strategy
  • determine your advertising approach
  • learn how to carry out financial analysis and avoid debt
  • understand the different options for a legal business structure
  • time management and ways to deal with work stresses

When I was thinking about where to certify, I spoke with every doula I know. I also asked some doula friends of mine to ask THEIR friends. I kept hearing, "I certified with xxx but then I switched to Childbirth International" "I wish I had just gone to CBI from the beginning. With CBI I feel so much more prepared." I heard that phrase over and over, "CBI really prepares you", "CBI does a better job of making sure you are prepared", "with CBI you'll be more prepared."

Brandy, Alabama, USA

I really enjoyed the thoroughness of the information - it was great to get stuck into the study and really feel like you were gaining good background knowledge for all aspects of working as a doula. The course material was also very well presented and the website very easy to navigate. Very prompt replies to questions. Good, honest, constructive feedback and help.

Tracie, QLD, Australia

I was amazed by my own personal growth and understanding that occurred during my training. This course goes beyond the common approach to a Doula certification. Bravo! My experience with CBI has been a truly life changing event! Thank you!

Kathy, Wisconsin, USA

I have enjoyed so much about this course. I have always had a great interest in labour and birth, and medical things. But the greatest thing was that eventually on my third birth, I had the labour and birth that I truly wanted, and needed, and that was all down to completing this course. I was able to give myself the support I yearned for and had a completely natural labour and birth in 3 hours with no medical intervention. I now feel a stronger woman for doing this and for the first time I do not have postnatal depression.

Eleanor, UK

This training has opened my eyes to a completely new way to birth. I have always loved and been passionate about birth, but it was from the medical model. I have learned so many new ideas and techniques from this course. It has led me to consider new ideas that I have never thought of. I have had to change some of my basic beliefs about what is the safest and best way to birth a baby. I am so thankful that I had this experience. My trainer provided excellent feedback and challenged me to think about what I have written, dig deeper and research more. She always asked good questions. She was very positive, supportive and prompt. Thanks for a great course and the great support. I would recommend your course to anyone who is passionate about childbirth.

Trena, Taiwan (Registered Nurse)

© Lorado / iStockphoto

Questions about Birth Doula Training

Is this course accredited or recognized?

Yes!! Childbirth International Training is accredited with distinction as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. We are the only doula training organization to have been accredited with distinction by the ANCC. Your final certificate will show the continuing education hours and can be used for any organization that recognizes ANCC continuing nurse education hours. Read more about our accreditation.

Do you have discounts or scholarships available??

We do not offer scholarships at this point in time. We do, however, have a number of discounts. Existing students and graduates receive a 15% discount on all subsequent courses that they purchase. If you purchase more than one course together, a discount of 15-25% is available. We offer group discounts for friends or work colleagues who register for the same course together. Our Green option allows you to reduce the cost of training by working online. In addition, we have payment plans available to enable you to pay for your course over five months.

Do I have to have given birth to be a birth doula?

Not at all! Being a birth doula 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 doula. 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), if you’ve never experienced a vaginal birth, or if you’ve never breastfed.

Will I be able to work at my local hospital?

We’re often asked whether our birth doula training is 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 other costs are there for Birth Doula Training?

Absolutely none! We charge a single price for your training. You will have no accommodation or travel costs, no recertification or membership costs. Ever! There is no need to attend a doula class or doula workshop. We believe you should be able to complete your training as easily, flexible and cost-effectively as possible! Once you have earned your certification with Childbirth International it is for life!

Can I charge clients before I am certified?

Yes of course! You will support two clients during your training as part of your certification requirements. You can choose to charge a standard fee, a reduced fee, or no fee. This is entirely up to you!

How much can I earn as a birth doula?

There are large differences in how much birth doulas earn. It depends on where you live, the clients you are supporting, and the package of support provided. 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$700 and US$1,500. If the clients 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. If you are working in a rural area or a developing country your earnings might look very different.

Is there a benefit in buying more than one course?

Yes! We offer discounts if you buy two or more courses together. For two courses you’ll receive 15% off each, three courses the discount is 20% and four courses is 25%. If you buy one course first and later want to add another one you will get a 15% discount as a CBI student or graduate.

Some of the topics in our courses are shared. For example, the communication skills module is found in all our certification programs. Once you have completed the module and the assignments for one course you won’t need to do them again for the next course!

How will I find clients?

When you first start you might be concerned about how you’re going to find your clients. Formulating a plan of where you’re going to advertise and promote your business starts you off on the right foot. The Building Your Business module provides a thorough understanding of establishing and building a business. 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. 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! Your trainer is available for additional ideas that are unique to your situation.

Do you recognize my previous 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! Your previous experience can be enormously beneficial in your birth doula training. Perhaps you’ve completed other birth doula training programs or been working as a birth doula for a long 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 CBI birth doula training. Our goal is to build on what you already know and help you to become a more knowledgeable and effective professional. While we don’t offer discounts for previous birth doula training, you won’t ever have to pay membership or recertification fees ever again once you choose Childbirth International!

Do I need insurance to work as a birth doula?

There are no legal insurance requirements to work as a birth doula. We are aware of one hospital in Canada that does require birth doulas to have insurance when they work there (which you can get through our preferred provider), but otherwise, insurance is entirely up to you. For our students in the United States, Canada, and Australia, we have preferential rates available for insurance that covers professional and commercial liability that will cover you providing you are working within the CBI Code of Practice.

How often are your course materials updated?

All our courses are completely edited every five years. In addition, whenever we find new research on a topic with the course the materials are updated on the student website. We put out a notice to all students and graduates of recent updates on our closed student Facebook group and on the front page of the student website.