how to become a doula in ca

how to become a doula in ca

Scope of Practice

In case you were wondering, doulas are not medical professionals. A doula’s scope of practice does not include the delivery of babies or providing any type of medical care. Rather, doulas are childbirth educators who provide physical, emotional and informational support to pregnant women and their families. They help couples understand what is happening during labor and birth so they can make informed decisions about their care. Doulas also offer comfort measures such as massage, aromatherapy and positioning techniques to ease a laboring mother’s pain.

Keep in mind that doulas are sometimes confused with midwives because both support women during pregnancy, labor and birth—but there is an important difference between the two professions. Midwives have special training in detecting pregnancy complications and delivering babies safely; they also have the skills needed to manage any emergencies that may arise during labor. Doulas play no role in diagnosing or treating complications; because of this, it is common for a midwife to work alongside a doula at a home birth (most hospitals do not allow doulas into their delivery rooms).

Core Skills

You should have a wide range of skills to succeed as a doula. Use this list of doula skills to make your resume or cover letter as strong as possible.

  • Active Listening
  • Empathy
  • Stress Management
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Time Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Service Orientation
  • Negotiation
  • Clear Communication
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Organization
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Coordination \t\t\t \n\n

Steps to Becoming a Doula in California

The first step to becoming a doula in California is to complete a doula certification program.

These programs are offered by different organizations throughout the country, and some of the most common training organizations are DONA International, Lamaze International, and Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA).

The programs require approximately 15-20 hours of lecture training and 10-15 hours of skills practice.

You can typically complete these programs in a weekend or over the course of one week.

After you’ve completed your training, you will need to pass the certification exam offered by your chosen organization.

For example, DONA offers its test online for $300.

If you have not yet joined an organization, you may be charged an additional fee for membership.

What You Need to Become a Doula in California

Becoming a doula is an amazing way to help people at one of the most important times in their lives. You can be there for soon-to-be parents and help them have a peaceful birth experience by providing support, information and comfort. But you do need certain skills and qualities to be successful as a doula. Here’s what you need:

  • Passion and drive. Doulas are more than just coaches. They are advocates, educators and supporters who are passionate about what they do. If you want to be a doula, you need the passion to match your clients’ passion for their new baby, as well as the desire to help women have the best births possible
  • People skills. Doulas work with people from all walks of life, so being good with people is essential
  • Calm under pressure. Childbirth can be unpredictable—sometimes it even gets scary—but that’s when having a calm demeanor will allow you to put your clients at ease while remaining focused on making sure everything goes smoothly
  • Good listener. You can’t solve someone else’s problems if you don’t listen!


Aspiring California doulas must complete a minimum of three training courses, in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA). These courses include:

  • Labor Doula Training Course
  • Lactation Educator Training Course

Each course is 24 hours long and consists of both in-person training at an approved facility, as well as self-paced online instruction.

  • Infant CPR Certification or similar certification from another organization, such as the American Red Cross.

Individuals who already have a background in childbirth education may also qualify to take a Mentorship Pathway. This pathway involves individual mentorship between a student and experienced childbirth educator. Interested students should contact CAPPA to learn more about this option.

Training and Labor Support Skills

Training and Labor Support Skills

Labor doulas are trained to provide support and comfort to women during labor. As part of the doula certification process, you will learn techniques for helping a woman through labor. You will also learn how to be an advocate for mothers, how to provide emotional support before, during and after birth, how to communicate with medical staff, and how to help women remain as comfortable as possible while they are in labor.

Networking and Mentorship

Networking is key to growth in the doula world. Connecting with other doulas can help you find mentors, expand your business and even find work.

As a newly certified doula, you may feel intimidated about finding a mentor. Some professionals have been working in the field for decades and might not be supportive.

Fortunately, there are ways to develop relationships with your colleagues that don’t involve asking them to work one on one with you. You could join a network or attend conferences together, where you can learn from each other. The more people you meet, the deeper your understanding of being a doula will become, giving you confidence in your skills and fostering professional relationships that will last throughout your career.

You can become a doula in California by following this guide.

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must have completed a high school diploma or equivalent
  • You must have current CPR certification
  • You must successfully complete a DONA International-approved doula training course
  • You must pass an exam administered by DONA International

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