Becoming a Certified Postpartum Doula: A Guide to Professional Certification

Becoming a certified postpartum doula is an enriching journey that involves acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, and certification to support new parents during the delicate postpartum period. 

In this guide, we will explore the steps involved in becoming a certified postpartum doula, from understanding the role and responsibilities to selecting a reputable certification program and completing the certification process. 

Whether you have a passion for supporting families during this transformative time or are considering a career change, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and resources to embark on your path to becoming a certified postpartum doula.

Education and Training Requirements

Becoming a certified postpartum doula involves completing specific educational courses and training programs to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to support families during the postpartum period. You can explore educational opportunities and certification programs through organizations like Doula Educational Institute, which offers comprehensive training and certification for aspiring doulas.

1. Educational Courses: Postpartum doula training typically involves completing educational courses focused on childbirth, postpartum care, breastfeeding support, newborn care, and communication skills. These courses may cover topics such as understanding the physiology of childbirth, providing emotional support to new parents, assisting with breastfeeding techniques, and promoting infant bonding and attachment.

2. Doula Training Workshops: Participating in doula training workshops or seminars conducted by certified instructors is an integral part of the education and training process. These workshops often provide hands-on training, role-playing exercises, and practical guidance on supporting new parents effectively. They may also cover topics such as doula ethics, professional boundaries, and working with diverse populations.

3. Practical Experience: Gaining practical experience is essential for aspiring postpartum doulas. This may involve volunteering at hospitals, birth centers, or community organizations to assist with births and provide postpartum support to families. Practical experience allows doulas to apply their knowledge and skills in real-life situations and develop confidence in supporting new parents during the postpartum period.

4. Continuing Education: Even after becoming certified, postpartum doulas are encouraged to engage in continuing education to stay updated on the latest research, trends, and best practices in postpartum care. Continuing education opportunities may include attending advanced training workshops, conferences, webinars, and reading relevant books and publications.

5. Certification Programs: Choosing a reputable certification program is crucial for becoming a certified postpartum doula. Certification programs are offered by organizations such as DONA International, CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association), and ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association). These programs typically have specific requirements, including completing educational courses, attending workshops, acquiring practical experience, and passing a certification exam.

Gaining Practical Experience

Accruing practical experience by attending births and providing postpartum support to families is essential. Volunteering at hospitals, birth centers, or community organizations can offer valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities.

Completing Certification Requirements

Fulfilling the certification requirements outlined by the chosen organization is necessary. This may include submitting an application, attending workshops, completing required reading, documenting attended births, and obtaining client endorsements.

Submitting Application and Documentation

After meeting the certification requirements, candidates typically submit their application along with any required documentation, such as proof of completion of training courses, attendance at births, and client evaluations.

Passing Certification Exam

Some certification programs may require candidates to pass a written exam covering topics related to childbirth, postpartum care, breastfeeding, and doula ethics.

Joining Professional Doula Associations

Joining professional doula associations such as DONA International, CAPPA, or ICEA not only facilitates networking with other doulas but also offers access to valuable resources such as mentorship programs, educational materials, and job opportunities within the field. Additionally, membership in these associations often includes discounts on workshops, conferences, and other continuing education opportunities, further supporting the professional growth and development of doulas in their practice. By actively participating in these associations, doulas can stay informed about industry developments, advocacy efforts, and best practices, ultimately enhancing their ability to provide high-quality care to families during the postpartum period.

Scope of Practice

A postpartum doula provides physical, emotional, and informational support to new parents during the postpartum period, typically lasting from childbirth to about six weeks afterward. Their role may include assisting with newborn care, breastfeeding support, light household tasks, emotional support for the new parents, and providing referrals to additional resources as needed.

1. Emotional Support and Encouragement: Postpartum doulas provide a compassionate and understanding presence, offering emotional support and encouragement to new parents as they navigate the challenges and joys of parenthood. They create a nurturing environment where parents feel heard, validated, and empowered in their new roles.

2. Newborn Care Assistance: Postpartum doulas assist with essential newborn care tasks, including feeding, diapering, bathing, and soothing techniques. They offer practical guidance on newborn care practices, helping parents feel confident and competent in caring for their baby’s needs.

4. Education on Newborn Care: Postpartum doulas offer valuable education on various aspects of newborn care, including infant sleep patterns, developmental milestones, and postpartum recovery for the mother. They provide evidence-based information and resources to help parents make informed decisions about their baby’s care and well-being.

5. Assistance with Light Household Tasks: In addition to newborn care, postpartum doulas lend a helping hand with light household tasks to ease the burden on new parents. This may include meal preparation, laundry, tidying up, and running errands, allowing parents to focus on bonding with their baby and recovering from childbirth.


Becoming a certified postpartum doula involves completing education, training, and certification requirements, as well as joining professional doula associations like DONA International, CAPPA, or ICEA. These associations offer networking opportunities, access to resources, and ongoing professional development. By fulfilling these requirements and actively engaging with professional associations, postpartum doulas can provide effective support to families during the postpartum period, making a positive impact on the lives of new parents and their newborns.

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