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

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.

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.

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.

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 these barriers.

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 these barriers.

Certification Essentials

  • 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.

Credentials Earned

  • CBD (Certified Birth Doula)
  • CPD (Certified Postpartum Doula)
  • CEOLD (Certified End-of-Life Doula)

Cross Certification

Did you train with another organization or with Patty Brennan in the past? Cross Certification offers the opportunity to earn your doula certification through Lifespan Doulas.

Cross Certification is for folks who completed professional doula training:

  • With another trainer or organization, OR
  • With Patty Brennan prior to May 2021 (Birth/Postpartum Doulas) OR
  • With Patty Brennan/Lifespan Doulas prior to March 2020 (EOL Doulas)

Earn your professional certification for life, plus a one-year listing in our Doula Directory, for a one-time fee of $100.

Certification Requirements At-A-Glance

For Birth Doulas

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.

For Postpartum Doulas

Complete the self-paced study modules.

  • Doula Fundamentals & Essential Skills
  • Postpartum Mother/Baby/Family Basics
  • Breastfeeding Basics & Support Skills for Doulas

Your Choice

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

Read five books.

  • The Baby Book, revised edition, by Sears
  • The Fourth Trimester Companion, by Cynthia Gabriel
  • Depression in New Mothers, by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett
  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Edition revised, by Wiessinger, West, and Pitman
  • 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.

For End-of-Life Doulas

Complete the self-paced study modules. *

  • Doula Fundamentals & Essential Skills
  • End-of-Life Doula Basics

Your Choice

  • End-of-Life Doula Support Skills Workshop OR
  • 100% Self-Paced Program

Read four books.

  • Accompanying the Dying, by Deanna Cochran
  • Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
  • Stepping Stones, by Ellie Atherton
  • My Final Wishes, by Threshold Care Circle

+ Two More Steps

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

* For folks who enrolled in our End-of-Life Doula Training program only, these two self-paced study modules are fully integrated into one program.