Deciding to become a doula is a significant and pivotal moment in a woman’s life. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding which route to take to get trained and start your doula career.
One question that can impact your decision is, “How long does it take to become a doula?”
That’s up to you and the pace at which you complete your training. However, it usually takes less than a year to go through all the steps.
First, you have to attend a doula training and certification program to learn the ins and outs of what a doula does. Then you have to attend several births as an observer. Finally, you can doula for your first client.
Depending on which training program you choose and whether you decide to keep and maintain certification, there are various routes to the same goal. So, let’s break them down!
In today’s blog, we are going to go over what most doula training programs consist of, how they compare, and the time commitment you can expect based on the training you take.
Many organizations follow a similar structure. If you want to start the process of becoming a doula, so you can help other woman access the many benefits of a doula for childbirth, we will link to several doula training programs that we know and trust.
How long it takes to get your doula certification
All doula training programs have a similar structure and can range in how long you have to complete them. Some have a 12 month maximum, and some have no time limit for completion.
Most doula training consists of a one or two day training course, and then a list of requirements for the final certification. Depending on the doula’s motivation and availability, it could take as little as one month, or as long as a couple of years.
I am breaking down the requirements for 5 major doula certification organizations below, but here is the general idea how long it will take to get your doula certification.
Doula training program
To start the path of being a certified labor doula, you need an initial training program. Doula training is available online and self-paced, through in-person workshops, or a mix of the two.
This training will teach you all about what a doula does, and how to support your clients. You’ll learn comfort measures, how to provide physical and emotional support, labor and birth physiology, the basics to get a doula business up and running, and a few other topics, depending on which organization you choose.
Attend and evaluate 2 or 3 births
Technically, there are no training requirements to be a doula. The doula industry is not medical, and therefore, it is not regulated. Anyone can say “Hey, I am a doula,” and they are a doula.
We definitely do NOT suggest doing that. Getting trained and certified as a doula benefits your clients and your business. However, after you complete a comprehensive training program, you can start attending births.
All organizations require you to attend 2 or 3 births as the primary doula. You will either submit your self-reflections, or ask your client to fill out an evaluation of their experience with you.
Required reading, quizzes, assignments, etc.
Each organization differs on the additional requirements for certification, which will affect how long it takes you to complete. You can expect to be assigned a fair amount of reading, writing, studying, creating documents, and even practical applications of your skills.
How long it takes to become a doula is up to you
It takes however long you want it to take! There are training and certification programs to suit every need, lifestyle, and method of delivery.
Let’s take a look at each one below.
Comparison of Doula Training Organizations
|Birth Requirements||Attend 2 births as primary doula; Provide prenatal & postpartum support for at least 1||Attend 2 births||Attend 3 births||Attend 3 births within 12 months||Attend 2 births as primary doula within 12 months of registering|
|Client Evaluations||Not required (self-reflection only)||3||3||3||3|
|Childbirth Course||Audit one course series||Audit one course series||Not required||Not required||Audit one course series|
|Lactation Course||Not required||Audit one course series||Not required||Not required||Not required|
|Resource List||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not required||Yes|
|Assignments||2 communication reflections; 1 physiology module evaluation||1 essay and a business webinar||Online content to be completed||Not required||2 essays|
|Exams||Birth physiology exams||Not required||Open book exams||Not required||Not required|
|Readings||Critique 2 podcasts, videos, or articles||Position papers and 7 books||2 booklets and 5 books||Varies||Varies|
|Letter of Recommendation||Not required||Professional references from a client and a health professional||Not required||3 references, one must be video interviewed||Not required|
|Time Limit||None||4 years from workshop||2 years from workshop||18 months from workshop||12 months to complete required participation in online forums|
|Other||None||Webinar on business||None||Personal video interviews; First Aid course||Infant/Child CPR certification; business strategy outline|
Continuing Education for Doulas
Being a doula, it is important to keep up your education and training. There are many options for additional doula training and specialization, all of which can contribute to a higher doula salary.
The two I would ABSOLUTELY recommend taking as a career doula are:
Advanced VBAC Doula Training
Many of your clients are going to have had a prior Cesarean and the reality is, basic doula training does not cover VBAC facts and essential information at nearly enough depth.
To get a full understanding of what you and your clients are up against, and become 100% confident supporting VBAC parents, consider taking our Advanced VBAC Doula Certification.
Stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula Training
Stillbirthday training is essential. You never know when you are going to have a client that has a pregnancy loss. Knowing how to support that need is critical for both yourself and your client.
Be prepared for it ahead of time because learning while pregnancy loss is happening is one of the hardest things you might have to do as a doula.
There are also many less intensive training courses that can teach you about using a rebozo during labor, how essential oils can help with common pregnancy ailments, how to use a TENS unit as a labor tool, and everything you can imagine.
Being a doula means being a lifelong student, always learning and growing to better suit your clientele.