DONA INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATION The steps to become a Certified DONA Doula

Is certification required in order to work as a doula?

For the most part, no. Doulas are unlicensed, unregulated service providers in most states (exceptions include birth doulas in Oregon and Minnesota, with legislation pending in New York). Certification is optional but does carry many benefits, including higher earning potential, especially for DONA-certified doulas (see below). Most doulas are self-employed and can decide for themselves whether they choose to certify. However, if you are seeking employment from a doula agency or a hospital-based doula program, certification may be required.

Benefits of DONA International Certification

  • Be recognized. International recognition as a certified professional doula with the world’s premier doula organization; very portable credential. Wear your DONA International “certified doula” nametag with pride!
  • Join a referral network. DONA International has the most extensive and thorough online referral system of any doula organization. Certified doulas receive a listing in DONA’s referral directory.
  • Command higher fees. An annual doula survey by Kim James, owner of, has repeatedly established that (1) certified doulas make more money than uncertified doulas and (2) DONA-certified doulas command higher fees than doulas certified by other organizations.
  • Maintain high standards for the doula profession. DONA-certified doulas agree to work within an evidence-based scope of practice that limits doulas to support practices that truly benefit and empower families while prohibiting practices that may prove harmful or increase liability for the doula.

DONA International Certification Requirements

There are separate certifications for birth and postpartum doulas. Upon completion of doula training, you will be provided with Certificates of Attendance as evidence of having completed the training requirements. After training, you will need to purchase a certification packet from DONA’s Doula Boutique. The packet contains instructions and forms required to complete the DONA International certification process. In class, we will have a sample packet on hand and will review all requirements to ensure that your questions are answered regarding the certification process.

Lifespan Doulas’ three-day DONA Birth Doula Workshop fulfills two certification requirements—the pre-requisite Introduction to Childbirth for Doulas class (same as the childbirth class observation) and the 16-hour DONA-approved Birth Doula Workshop. When you invest in our Birth Doula Workshop & Breastfeeding Class Special Package, you fulfill a third requirement.

Lifespan Doulas’ four-day DONA Postpartum Doula Workshop fulfills two certification requirements—the Breastfeeding Basics pre-requisite class and the 27-hour DONA-approved Postpartum Doula Workshop.

Is Re-certification Required?

Yes, every three years. To be recertified, doulas must maintain continuous active membership in DONA International. In addition, birth doulas must complete 15 hours of approved continuing education each three-year period and postpartum doulas must complete 18 hours of continuing education each three-year period. Once you become a certified doula, DONA will send you information regarding re-certification requirements.

Cost of Certification

Certification Packet = $50

DONA Annual Membership Fee = $100

Certification Application Fee = $110

Please note that there is a separate certification process for birth and postpartum doulas. If you plan on carrying a dual certification, you will need to purchase two packets and pay two application fees. However, you will only pay one membership fee and the Breastfeeding Basics class will do double duty in fulfilling both birth and postpartum requirements.