Birth Doula Training and Certification

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of being present at a birth! As a birth doula, you’ll support clients through their pregnancy, labor and the first few days after birth. This comprehensive online birth doula training and certification program will cover everything you need to know to have the confidence and skills to accompany parents on this journey.

Being a birth doula is so much more than providing 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 doula can help with. At CBI, we make sure you have a thorough grounding in all these areas and more. With ongoing support and guidance from your trainer, a strong focus on communication skills, physiology and birth doula skills, and everything you need to know about starting or growing your business, you’ll have the confidence and skills to provide the very best support to your clients.

As with all our training programs, during your doula training 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 training organizations?
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Prefer to download our syllabus and read it offline?
Click to download the syllabus here

Certification: Certified Birth Doula (CBD)

Duration: 4-7 months

Time Limit: None

Delivery: Online

Cost: From $620 or 5 payments of $134

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

One Payment: US$660 (printed manuals + online access)

Green Option: US$620 (online only – no shipping)

Five Installments: US$142 per month (printed manuals + online access) or US$134 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 3 books
  • Module evaluations

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)

Five Payments

US$ 142

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 per month.

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One Paymentmost popular

US$ 660

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

$ 620

one paymentBe gentle on the environment! Complete your course online and save money and trees! The Green Option is also available in monthly installments.

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Course Syllabus

No other doula course covers the same depth of topics as you’ll cover with 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.

Childbirth International (CBI) courses are designed using a Competency Framework. The Competency Framework provides the foundation of our courses, determining what should be included (the content or topics) together with what skills (competencies) you, as a student, are expected to know, understand and do by the end of the course.

We design all our courses by first looking at what you need to be able to know, understand, or do, in order to be successful in your work. Once we have done that, we then look at how we can teach that knowledge or skill to you, and how we can measure whether or not you have become competent in that area. This approach means that everything you learn has a clear purpose and you will finish your training without any gaps.

During your training you’ll cover four main topic areas:

  • Communication
  • Physiology
  • Being a Birth Doula
  • Business of Birth

Click on a topic area below to find out more. If you’d like to read the full syllabus, you can download it here.


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 essay that will be reviewed by your trainer who’ll provide feedback and assessment.

Topics in Communication

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


Understanding the normal physiology of pregnancy, labor, birth and the early postpartum period provides you with the foundation essential for working with pregnant women. The physiology module begins with the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy and the stages of fetal development. It then explores the normal processes during labor and birth, and the early postpartum period.

Once you have a solid knowledge base on normal physiology, you can then dig deeper into understanding the concepts of active and expectant management of labor, and the common routine procedures that may be suggested by caregivers.

This module will also cover the importance of nutrition and exercise during pregnancy 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 women 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 will be supporting women in the first few weeks after birth. You will develop an understanding of lactation and discover tips and suggestions on helping women with some of the more common breastfeeding problems. Finally, you will look at prenatal testing and screening, and the ethical issues related to this.

Topics in Physiology

  • 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

Being a Birth Doula

Birth doulas have the privilege of sharing a very special time with a family, the time around the birth of their baby. This privilege comes with unparalleled rewards, but also intense challenges.

In this module you’ll explore the roles and responsibilities of birth doulas, and discuss the benefits to the family of support at this time. You will also explore the stresses you may confront, and how these can be managed.

You’ll look at your role and 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. This module will help you to determine how to manage your first client interviews and how to manage the stress of being on call.

You will learn the different strategies to help during particular challenges, such as during a cesarean, if a mother chooses an epidural, women who are birthing without the support of a partner, or women giving their baby up for adoption.

You will consider different ways that you can establish yourself in a community and how to build peer relationships that will help you to find clients. There is an introduction to complementary therapies that will provide you with a basic understanding for when you are working with women who would like to use these. 

Finally, you will explore birth trauma and how you can help families, and yourself, heal after a traumatic birth, and how to support change in maternity care.

Topics in Being a Birth Doula

  • getting started as a doula
  • working with a client prenatally (including birth plans and debriefing)
  • working with a client during labor (including positioning, hands-on skills, complementary therapies)
  • adapting your role (homebirths, cesareans, epidurals)
  • challenging births (posterior, precipitate, unexpected outcomes)
  • working with a client postnatally
  • supporting women in crisis
  • equipment, supplies and documentation
  • alternative ways of working
  • making change

Business of Birth

The Business of Birth provides you with everything you need to know about starting up, or growing, your business. We take away the unknown and daunting parts of running a business and help you to develop strategies that will make your business successful. Throughout the module you’ll develop a comprehensive business plan that will be easy to complete. This is an optional module and does include any assignments. If you would like business mentorship with your trainer during this module you can add the mentorship option and she will give you guidance on your business plan and website/marketing materials.

Topics in Business of Birth

  • becoming a birth and parenting professional
  • determine your own 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