BIRTH DOULA CERTIFICATION Professionalize your services with Lifespan Doulas.

What does it mean to be a certified doula?

Certification for doulas is optional. Most doulas are self-employed and can decide for themselves whether they choose to certify. There is no government-mandated regulatory entity that oversees doula training and certification programs on a national or international level. Certification simply indicates that one has completed the requirements of one particular doula training and certification program. Certification, at a minimum, guarantees that the person calling her/himself a "doula" has ...

  • Completed a professional training program
  • Demonstrated competency regarding core knowledge in the field
  • Agreed to abide by a defined Scope of Practice
birth doula certification

Community Access to Doulas

I have been a leader in the doula community for many years and have witnessed up close the growth of the doula profession. In the push to professionalize our special brand of support services, doula training organizations have created an ever-increasing number of post-training certification hoops for newly trained doulas. These may include documentation and evaluation of hands-on experience with clients, writing essays, extensive reading requirements, ongoing continuing education requirements, periodic re-certification, and more. Last, but certainly not least, is the additional costs involved for the doula in achieving certification/re-certification and the ongoing revenue stream this creates for the training organizations.

What effect do these requirements have on the greater doula community? The addition of certification fees to the cost of training, along with mandated annual membership fees, continuing education fees, and re-certification fees create barriers for lower-income doulas, many of whom cannot afford to become certified after investing in training.

As newly trained doulas begin to provide services, many discover that certification is not necessary. The reality is a large percentage of trained doulas do not choose to become certified. Of those who do complete certification, an even larger percentage do not choose to re-certify when the time rolls around, as the ongoing value of the certification is uncertain.

If I live in another state or country, can I be certified with Lifespan Doulas?

Yes! There is no real meaning to a claim of "national" or "international" certification by a training organization. It does not matter where you take your training in terms of the value and meaning of certification.

Streamlined Certification

 Making Doulas Accessible

We believe that extensive certification requirements and fees are unnecessary to achieve the aim of preparing well-trained, high-quality doulas to serve families in their own communities. Therefore, we have included certification in the cost of training and have removed barriers.

What is the difference between "certification" and "licensure"?

In the United States, licensure is overseen at the state level. Licensure involves government mandates, fees, and oversight, and is required for many professions such as hair stylists, daycare providers, home health care agencies, and more. Currently, end-of-life and postpartum doulas are unlicensed and unregulated service providers in all states, while birth doulas are licensed in Oregon and Minnesota only. Legislative efforts to regulate birth doulas are underway in several other states. The motive driving these regulatory efforts is to qualify doulas for Medicaid (and other third-party) insurance reimbursement. It is best to keep in mind that the status of licensing and certification for doulas may change over time in the U.S.

Certification Essentials

  • Credential earned = Certified Birth Doula (CBD)
  • Lifetime certification is granted (no renewal required).
  • Certification is included in the training fee (no ongoing fees).
  • Payment plans must be paid in full before Certificate will be issued.

Birth Doula Certification At-A-Glance

Complete the self-paced study modules.

  • Doula Fundamentals & Essential Skills
  • Childbirth Education Basics
  • Breastfeeding Basics for Doulas

Your Choice

  • Birth Doula Support Skills Workshop OR
  • 100% Self-Paced Program

Read four books.

  • The Birth Partner, 5th Edition, by Penny Simkin
  • Breastfeeding Made Simple, by Mohrbacher and Kendall-Tackett
  • Natural Hospital Birth, 2nd Edition, by Cynthia Gabriel
  • The Doula Business Guide, 3rd Edition, by Patty Brennan

+ Two More Steps

  • Sign Agreement to Abide by the Doula Scope of Practice.
  • Pass the online certification exam.

Past Trainees or Trained Elsewhere?

If you completed DONA International training with Patty Brennan in the past and wish to become certified with Lifespan Doulas, we have a no-cost process for you!

We will accept completion of past birth doula training with Patty as fulfilling current certification training requirements (through 2021). Download the appropriate packet(s) below.

If you trained with another trainer or organization and wish to become certified with Lifespan Doulas, we have a process for you!

Show proof of completion of a professional doula training and complete requirements for a one-time fee of $100 (includes a Directory listing). Read the requirements.