FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about our birth & postpartum doula trainings
QUESTIONS? We have answers!
You do not need a medical background to become a doula. Doulas focus on providing emotional, informational and logistical support, and hands-on comfort measures for the birthing mother and her partner, as well as support for the entire family in the early postpartum period. It is a strictly non-clinical role.
I have had women (and a couple of men) between the ages of 15 and 70 take doula training. There are no age restrictions on becoming a doula. However, some community or hospital-based doula programs or agency owners may set a minimum age for participation at 18 years old.
No. Approximately one third of the folks who have taken my doula trainings over the past 20 years have never had a baby. It is not at all unusual and has not proven to be an obstacle to working as a doula.
A limited number of breastfeeding infants under six months of age are welcome. Unfortunately, we do not have a separate private space available for you and your baby to retreat to if necessary. You will be able to step out of the main teaching space into an adjoining room (where you can still hear us) if your baby becomes fussy or loud (even happy sounds can be distracting if your baby is especially expressive). Please let me know in advance if you are bringing your baby to the training and whether you have any questions/concerns (email@example.com).
If you are nursing an older baby, you can arrange to have your baby brought to you on scheduled breaks and are free to pump as needed (a refrigerator and freezer are available). There will be an hour lunch break each day, as well as 15-minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks.
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. 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 program, certification may be required. Learn more about the DONA certification process and associated fees.
No. In fact, there are some cost considerations favoring not purchasing the packet now and waiting until you are ready to start attending births (or, for postpartum doulas, ready to complete the required postpartum family support hours). DONA date-stamps the packet with the purchase date and gives you two years to complete the requirements before having to buy a new packet. The required hands-on experience to meet certification requirements must be done after the training weekend. The only reason to purchase the certification packets prior to the workshop is if you have a family lined up who is likely to need support soon after the training. You do need to have the packet in hand before providing services. We will thoroughly review all certification requirements during the training weekend and answer all your questions.
Likewise, once certified, you will be required to maintain an active annual membership in DONA International. By joining now, you are stepping up the renewal deadline. While there are many benefits to DONA membership, you do not have to become a member until you are ready to submit your completed certification packet. For the budget conscious, I recommend waiting to purchase the membership.
No, you must purchase the packet from the DONA website at the Doula Boutique.
It depends on you! A highly motivated doula who is available to fulfill hands-on requirements right after training might complete all requirements within six months. Some requirements can be completed prior to the training. Most folks, however, take from 12 to 18 months (and some take longer), depending upon their availability and access to fulfilling the hands-on experiential component. In the meantime, you can begin working as a doula.
Most doulas are self-employed. It is unlikely that you will be making a living wage soon after training as a doula. Whether or not you are successful depends on so many factors that I cannot answer this question definitively. In some areas, the concept of doulas is not well known, and it may take a bit more of a push to build a sense of value for your role. In most of the larger metropolitan areas in the U.S., doulas are well accepted and may be able to move more quickly into demanding premium prices for their services. Doula work can supplement a regular family income nicely. And ambitious doulas, with determination and persistence, should be able to grow a successful doula business. Lifespan Doulas offers business development guidance to help you turn doula work into a sustainable business. In the end, your success will depend upon your overall skill set and work ethic. A more recent trend in the doula world is the emergence of a growing number of doula agencies. It is possible that you could find work with a doula agency shortly after training and begin earning sooner rather than later.
The short answer is “No” but there may be exceptions. Most practicing doulas are uncomfortable inviting an inexperienced doula whom they don’t know to their clients’ births. They may assume that to do so would be a violation of the client’s privacy. They might rightfully question the added value that the “shadow doula” brings from the client’s perspective. For this reason, it really isn’t done, though some doulas may feel comfortable incorporating an unpaid helper into their practices. It might be a bit easier to find a postpartum doula whose client would benefit from yet another pair of hands in the home (e.g., to help with multiples). You can always ask, but be aware that agreeing to mentor someone is more work, not less, for the doula and there is little incentive for her to do so. I encourage new doulas to trust themselves and jump in the deep end after training. You will find a way to be a comfort to the laboring mother and new family even if it’s your first client.
Additional Questions or Concerns?
Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org is absolutely the best way to get in touch with me. If you prefer a friendly voice, you can call and leave a message at 734-663-1523 and I'll call you back, typically within 24 hours on weekdays.