Because much of your program is self-study, the amount of time it takes you to become a doula can vary from a short few months to a couple of years. We’ve seen our trainees do it in as few as four months. Here’s a guideline timeline for you to review along with costs to give you an idea of the whole process.
Required Reading: Cost – $0-100
Many doulas begin reading as their first step to determine if being a doula is the path they wish to continue. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin is an excellent publication to get you started in your career as a doula. Continue the required reading throughout your certification process until you complete all the necessary books. Remember, you can always check your local library or find used copies through online book sellers. Some local doulas may loan you their books and some will sell them through online support groups. Find the complete updated required reading list here.
Attend a Childbirth Education Series (see details below): Cost – $0 to $200
One of the components to certification is to attend a childbirth education series as an observer, not as a participant. While you may take this course at any time, many doulas find it helpful to complete this observation prior to attending the birth doula workshop. Look for something that is as comprehensive as possible. Your Childbirth Class may also be included in the doula training. Be sure to check and see if it’s included or not.
Attend a DONA approved Birth Doula Workshop : Cost – Approx. $400-550
One of the most important aspects of certification is to complete the sixteen (16) hour birth doula workshop. The cost varies depending on the location of the workshop and what is included. You must complete the workshop prior to attending the births you wish to submit for certification. You will have four (4) years from the date of your workshop to complete all of your certification requirements and submit your application, however most people do it in a much shorter timeframe. Check out the workshops we offer HERE.
Become a Member of DONA International : Cost – $100 for 1 year
Even though you are not required to become a member of DONA International until you apply for certification, membership provides a number of benefits including a subscription to the International Doula quarterly magazine and discounts on both certification packets (which you will purchase next) and conference fees. Continuous membership in DONA International is also required to maintain your certification once you’re certified.
Purchase a Birth Doula Certification Packet: Cost – $50 (members)
Purchase AFTER you attend your DONA approved birth doula workshop. The birth doula certification packet contains the forms you will need, such as the breastfeeding class form and childbirth education observation form. You must purchase your packet prior to attending any births you plan to submit for certification.
Attend Births Required for Certification: Cost – None/Expenses
Any time within four (4) years after completion of the birth doula workshop and purchase of your birth doula certification packet, you may begin attending births. You will need to fill out several forms that are included in your birth doula certification packet for each birth you submit, including a birth record, labor progress chart and client confidentiality release statement. For each birth, you will need to write a summary following the guidelines indicated in your packet.
Each submitted birth will require an evaluation from the mother and nurse, doctor, or midwife. Because each birth must meet a number of requirements (such as continuous support and the doula’s presence at the onset of active labor) you may actually need to attend five to six (5-6) births or more in order to have the minimum of three (3) that meet all of the necessary requirements.
While there are no direct costs to the doula to attend births, you may have expenses such as parking, child care and gas.
Attend a Breastfeeding Class : Cost – $0 to $125
You may complete the breastfeeding course requirement at any point within the four (4) year time frame. The form you will need to complete can be found in your birth doula certification packet. Several options to meet this requirement include attending a breastfeeding class taught by an instructor with a recognized breastfeeding credential that is three (3) hours in length or taking an on-line breastfeeding course. Most classes will charge a small fee to observe. There is also an online option
Complete a Resource List: Cost – None
Your resource list serves as a helpful tool when making referrals to other professionals in your community. It is a good idea to begin compiling names and phone numbers throughout your certification process since you will need to submit at least 45 resources.
Write an Essay on the Purpose and Value of Labor Support: Cost – None
This requirement can be done whenever you prefer in the four (4) year time frame of certification. Some doulas may choose to write it as soon as they complete the workshop while their understanding of the role of the doula is fresh. Others may choose to write it as the last step before submitting their application.
Written Reference from Perinatal Health Professional: Cost –– None
You will sit down with a perinatal health professional to discuss the doula role. This can be anyone working with families in the perinatal period. There will be a form for them to complete after your meeting.
Provide a Client Reference: Cost – None
One client reference (including name, e-mail and phone number) must be provided on your application form for certification.
Sign DONA International’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics: Cost – None
Both of these forms are included in your birth doula certification packet. Your signature indicates that you will abide by DONA International’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics in your role as a DONA certified birth doula.
View one DONA Business webinar: Cost – $20
View one (1) DONA International webinar with a business theme and submit a printed copy of your certificate of completion. You may choose any of the webinars on the Every Doula Everywhere & Anytime here.
Pay Your Certification Processing Fee: Cost – $110
In order to process your application for certification, you must pay for your application through the boutique prior to sending or include a cheque.
Do not forget to make a copy of all of your paperwork before you send in your completed application in the event that it is lost or damaged during shipping!
Want a document you can bookmark or print that summarizes all of these steps? Click here for the DONA certification brochure.
Note: All fees are in US funds, except Doula School trainings which are in Canadian funds.