How To Become a Doula


After my last post about my journey to becoming a doula, I received an e-mail from someone asking just how one starts the process. Rather than reply to her e-mail, I decided to write up a quick post to answer the question.

You do not have to be certified to be a doula. This means that you could attend a birth with someone, acting as their doula having absolutely no training. I bet you didn’t know that, did you? Most doulas, however, go through a formal training process. There are many  programs out there offered by various agencies. I went with CAPPA because after researching my options, it was obvious to me that they have a wonderful community of amazing doula women that I can reach out to for support and companionship. CAPPA also offers other training programs such as childbirth educator, lactation educator, and more.

Regardless of the program you choose, most require the following to become certified:

  • Completion of a required reading list that consists of around 5 books related to birth, breastfeeding, and doula work.
  • Attendance at an in-person training session taught by someone certified in training doulas. Click  here to see a list of upcoming CAPPA training sessions near you.
  • Attendance at a breastfeeding course (sometimes these can be done online)
  • Attendance at a childbirth education course (sometimes these can be done online, too).
  • Attendance at three different births where you act as the doula. At these births you must receive positive evaluations from your client and two of the care providers (nurse, midwife, OB, midwivery assistant, etc).
  • Completion of an online, open book examination with multiple choice and essay questions.
  • Current membership with your certifying program.

Most programs cost about $1000 in total to get certified and take between one and two years. You can get them done quicker, depending on how determined you are and the availability of the various training programs/education classes near you. Each certification program has different requirements, but this seems to be the overall basis. The great thing about training to become a doula is that you can work at your own pace.

Other doula certification programs include Dona, To Labor, and Birth Arts International, but there are many more out there – just do a google search to read about them. You’ll be able to figure out which one seems like the best fit for you.

Do you have more questions about becoming a doula? Feel free to leave them below!

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7 Responses to How To Become a Doula

  1. Chantal says:

    That’s awesome!! I’m going to go through CAPPA for my doula training. My plan was to wait until we moved this summer/fall to start the training, but I was wondering if I should just get started now? At least with the training and online portions?

    • thecrunchywife says:

      I would totally get started if I were you! It can’t hurt. I was in the same boat, wondering if I should get started or not, and then a training happened to be in a week from when I was thinking about it, so I signed up :) If nothing else you can start the required reading and online portions, for sure. And start building your resource materials, etc! Good luck!

  2. Great info, thanks for sharing! I’m also glad you shared the timeline for certification. I might just look at starting the certification process sooner than I had anticipated. I didn’t realize it would take quite that long, very good to know!

    • thecrunchywife says:

      It doesn’t HAVE to take that long, but I find that it takes longer than you’d think – just because there are so many different steps involved and finding breastfeeding classes, child birth education clases and the actually doula training class close together may be tough. Definitely doesn’t hurt to get started with the required reading, anyway :)

  3. Katie K says:

    hey congrats! Just found you through the tunnel of the internet – and I just finished my CAPPA class training as well! Excited to get started on the birth journey :)

    • thecrunchywife says:

      Yay!! I love when I stumble on other people through the tunnel of the internet :) Congrats on your CAPPA training, how exciting! I literally just finished the essay exams and have completed my three births, so I’m getting ready to send in all of my paperwork! Good luck to you!

  4. Congrats on becoming a doula! There is one long-distance program out there that does not require a workshop or class attendance. MaternityWise gives women who do not have time/money to attend a workshop the opportunity to pursue their dream to become a doula with their long-distance program. It might just be what some women are looking for (:
    Best of luck with your doula work.
    Mary Kate

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