Working with expecting mothers and their families is the job of a doula. If you want to help moms during childbirth, you may want to learn how to become a doula. This type of career is a great choice if you have a passion for helping people.
While the word Doula might mean “a female servant” in the Greek origin, today, the job of a doula is certainly not one of a servant. However, you will be taking care of mom and her baby throughout the pregnancy and throughout childbirth.
If you’re considering a career as a doula, you might want to understand it a bit more. A better idea of the job duties can help, along with an understanding of how to become a doula.
Job Duties of a Doula
As a doula, you will assist mom and her family throughout the pregnancy, childbirth, and the early child-rearing stages. While you will certainly provide help during the birthing process, you will also work with mom before and after. You will provide emotional support, wellness guidance, and advice. Some doulas may specialize in one stage, such as prenatal, while others will handle all the stages.
Common job duties for a doula include:
- Meeting with expecting mothers to discuss wellness, diet, and supplements
- Providing training in relaxation and breathing before childbirth
- Providing advice for prenatal and postnatal bonding between the parent and child
- Working with clients to create a birth plan, which will include any medical concerns and preferences
- Helping to take care of pregnant women suffering from higher-risk conditions, such as multifetal pregnancy or preeclampsia
- Working with doctors and nurses when it comes to treatment and medical care
- Guiding the mother, her husband, and family through the process of childbirth both physically and emotionally
- Providing postnatal advice and assistance, such as feeding guidance
A doula becomes the go-to person for many mothers before, during, and after childbirth. You will be a very important part of bringing new life into the world if you become a doula.
How To Become a Doula in 3 Steps
Step #1 – Gain the Necessary Education
While you don’t need a college degree to become a doula, you do need the right education. A high school diploma or GED will be necessary. you may need some college-level coursework and getting a degree can be helpful. Classes in health sciences are a great choice, along with communication classes.
Step #2 – Complete a Training Program
There are several training programs you can complete to become certified as a doula. DINA International offers two certification options: Birth Doula and Postpartum Doula. You will need to complete this training in order to become a certified doula. DONA International is known for having high standards with its training.
Another option is the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association Worldwide. They offer a Certified Labor Doula and a Certified Postpartum Doula program. You can complete both or just one if you prefer. It’s also possible to earn qualifications as a New Parent Educator or Childbirth Educator through this training program.
ProDoula also offers certification training. You can become a Trained Doula or a Pre-Certified Doula through ProDoula before becoming a Certified Doula.
Along with doula training, you will need to complete infant and adult CPR training.
Training to become a doula will likely include the following:
- Training in home birth and hospital birth
- Learning about the hormones associated with labor
- Anatomy courses
- The emotions associated with birth and labor
- The different stages of labor and providing support throughout each
- How to make money and the baby physically comfortable
- Cesarean birth and dealing with emergencies
- The Golden Hour
- Family bonding
- And more!
Doula training is rather intense and extensive. You will be helping mom, the baby, and the family through one of the most important moments in their lives. The right training can help you become a successful doula.
Step #3 – Gain Experience
While training is a great way to become certified, you will likely need some experience to become a doula. Usually, you will start to gain experience during training. You may assist clients and observe other doulas as they work. Most training programs will require you to attend two or three births and provide some level of care.
It will also take experience working with another doula or observing to become certified. This may include sessions on feeding and child-rearing techniques.
Doula vs Midwife
As a doula, your job will be to focus on the physical needs of the mother and provide emotional support. You may be in a hospital, a home, or in a birthing center. Doulas don’t always have medical training, so they cannot be the only professionals there to support the mother. Doulas also don’t have the ability to make medical decisions or provide medications.
A midwife does have medical training. As a doula, you will likely work with a midwife quite often. This career requires medical training to deliver babies. Midwives often provide a more emotionally driven and nurturing approach to giving birth than a doctor. They work with nontraditional birth plans, such as natural births, home births, water births, and low-tech births.
There is no wrong or right answer between a doula or a midwife. It depends on whether you want to gain the medical training to deliver babies or you prefer to be a part of the emotional and physical support team.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Doula
How much will I make as a doula?
As a doula, you will make an average salary of about $27.76. This salary can be lower or higher based on your actual employer or your location. Many doulas work for themselves, but it’s also common to work for a healthcare center or a birthing center.
Los Angeles is the highest paying location followed by Washington D.C., Chicago, and Denver. However, the salary data collected on doulas is rather thin.
What type of employee benefits can a doula receive?
If you work for an employer, you will likely get some employee benefits. Doulas will likely get access to health insurance, paid time off, and a flexible schedule. Some will receive tuition reimbursement and other benefits, as well.
Do I need a degree to become a doula?
No. Many doulas have just a high school diploma or GED. In fact, about 66% of doulas don’t have any type of college degree. Another 10% hold an associate’s degree with about 25% of doulas holding a bachelor’s degree.
What type of work environment is common for a doula?
When you become a doula, you will likely work in a healthcare facility of some sort. This may be a hospital, birth center, clinic, or private practice. Many doulas will work in community organizations, as well.
What type of hours will I work as a doula?
Most doulas will work a full-time schedule. The hours you work may depend on the clients and their schedules. If you work independently, you will gain more flexibility than if you’re employed by a healthcare facility.
Long hours are possible if a client goes into labor. Doulas may spend the entire labor time with the mother, which can be short or very long. It’s also common for doulas to work in the homes of their clients. Many mothers seeking a doula will want to have a home birth, which means you may need to travel to their home.
How long will doula training be?
It depends on the type of program you choose. Some programs will require 20 hours of training and passing a test, while others will require more training. Some doula training courses can be completed in one or two days. Others have different requirements. The best programs will take a few months or a year to complete.
Can I complete doula training online?
Yes, there are options allowing you to complete most of your training online. However, you will still need to attend at least two births as the primary doulas and provide prenatal and postpartum support for at least one. There are also training courses completely done in-person with no online elements.
In most cases, you can complete some of the coursework online, but you will still need to attend births. The best doulas will go through the most intensive training, which may take several months or even a year to complete. The more training you can get, the better prepared you will be to be a doula.
Becoming a doula can be a rather rewarding career. You can work for an employer or independently if you prefer the freedom. As a doula, you will be a big part of bringing new life into the world. By providing the emotional support and physical support mom and the baby need, you can make childbirth more bearable.
If you want to become a doula, use the steps above. The right certification training can make a big difference in your career path. Knowing how to become a doula is a big step in the right direction, but you still have to take action.