Becoming a birth doula was one of the best and most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. I cannot express with words the sheer joy I have experienced at each and every one of the 50+ births I’ve attended throughout my career as a doula. Although most of my “work” as a doula at the present time is spent volunteering to help teen moms and military families, you can have a very successful and lucrative doula business if you choose.
The training and certification to become a doula is fairly inexpensive (typically $400-$600) and requires both theory and practical training. To begin with, you will typically be given a book list to read. Next you will likely attend a series of childbirth education classes prior to your actual doula training. These consist of watching videos, discussing the female anatomy, what to expect during labor, and how to work with pregnant and birthing mothers. Your doula training usually lasts from 3 full days to 2 weeks or longer, depending on what organization you certify with, or who trains you. Your training will be in depth and about all things birth related. You will learn comfort measures to use with laboring mothers, and how to advocate for them when you interact with hospital staff. You will also learn how to market your services to the public and likely create your very first network with your classmates.
To give you an idea of the income potential, the average doula charges anywhere from $500-$1,000+ per birth, depending on her experience, services offered, and additional areas of expertise (a doula who is also a massage therapist is obviously able to charge more). As a doula, you can attend about 2-4 births per month on your own, or up to 8 births per month if you’re working with a group of doulas that provide “back up” in the event that 2 or more clients go into labor at the same time.
I completed my doula training and certification through DONA International in 2002, and ALACE (now To Labor) in 2005. While DONA is probably the most well-known, widely respected doula training organization, there are many options available. Furthermore, while any reputable doula should receive quality training, certification is not required to practice as a doula. Anyone can work as a doula regardless of whether or not they have been certified to do so. However, many clients will only work with certified doulas, and if you are serious about pursuing a career as a doula, it’s definitely worth getting certified with a reputable organization.
If you’re interested in becoming a doula, I recommend registering for a birth doula training with one of the following reputable organizations: