How to Become a DONA Certified Doula

DONA International is the largest, most respected and experienced doula organization in the world. Their certification program is designed to meet rigorous standards for quality assurance and ethics, ensuring that certified doulas are knowledgeable, competent and ethical professionals.

Becoming a DONA International doula ensures that you are equipped with the required knowledge and skills to offer your clients the best possible care and support during their childbirth journey.

become a DONA certified doula

What is DONA International?

DONA International is the world’s oldest and largest doula organization, being founded in 1992 by a group of medical professionals and doulas. It was then initially called as Doulas of North America until 2004.

DONA International is dedicated to defining, promoting, and supporting quality care for families during the childbearing year through education, standards of practice and certification for doulas around the world.

What is a Doula?

A doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to pregnant women, during labor and delivery as well as postpartum.

A DONA international certified doula has completed the organization’s extensive training program, agreed to adhere to its code of ethics, passed the certification exam and received approval from both DONA International and the certifying body.

Looking for a DONA trained doula? Find out how in this article.

DONA Workshops, Trainings and Certifications

DONA International offers a variety of workshops, trainings, and certifications for those who are interested in becoming birth and postpartum doulas. Here are the different programs they offer and a brief overview of each:

  • Certified Birth Doula Program: This program is designed for individuals who want to become birth doulas and support expectant parents during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. It includes DONA-approved birth doula workshops, a breastfeeding training, a childbirth education course, and the support of three clients.
  • Certified Postpartum Doula Program: This program is designed for individuals who want to support new parents and their families after the birth of a baby. It includes DONA-approved postpartum doula workshops, CPR and First Aid certification, and the support of three clients.
  • Advanced Doula Certification Program: This program is designed for birth and postpartum doulas who want to expand their knowledge and skills. It includes advanced workshops and trainings, such as childbirth educator training, lactation educator training, and bereavement training.
  • Approved Birth Doula Workshop: This workshop is designed for individuals who want to become certified birth doulas but have already completed childbirth education and breastfeeding courses. It includes a DONA-approved birth doula workshop and support of three clients.
  • Approved Postpartum Doula Workshop: This workshop is designed for individuals who want to become certified postpartum doulas but have already completed CPR and First Aid certification. It includes a DONA-approved postpartum doula workshop and support of three clients.
  • Birth Doula Trainer Workshop: This workshop is designed for experienced birth doulas who want to become DONA-approved birth doula trainers. It includes trainer-certification workshops and an apprenticeship program.

By participating in these programs, individuals can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide evidence-based support to expectant and new parents during their childbirth journey.

Did you know about Antepartum Doulas? These doulas provide support for pregnancies that need extra care and attention. Find out more about them here.

Steps to Become a DONA Certified Doula

To become a DONA International Doula, here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Complete DONA International-approved doula training: DONA International requires you to complete a doula training course to ensure that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to support expectant parents and their families during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. You can find DONA-approved doula training workshops worldwide.

2. Read and sign the DONA International Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice: As part of your certification process, you need to read and sign the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice developed by DONA International.

3. Attend a breastfeeding training: DONA International requires all birth doulas to complete a breastfeeding training course. This requirement ensures that doulas can provide factual and evidence-based information about breastfeeding to their clients.

4. Attend a childbirth education course: DONA International requires all birth doulas to attend a childbirth education course to enhance their knowledge of the physiological, emotional, and psychological aspects of childbirth.

5. Support three clients: As a part of the certification process, you are required to support at least three clients during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. You will need to submit written evaluations from these clients.

6. Submit certification packet: Once you have met all the requirements mentioned above, you need to submit a certification packet to DONA International. The packet typically includes your training certificate, breastfeeding and childbirth education certificates, evaluations from your clients, a signed Code of Ethics, and a Standards of Practice agreement.

7. Pass the DONA International certification exam: After submitting your certification packet, you will have to take an exam that measures your understanding and knowledge of the DONA International Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

By completing these steps, you can become a certified DONA International Doula.

Steps to Register for a DONA Training Course

To find and register for DONA International training courses, here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Visit the DONA International website: Go to the official DONA International website at

2. Click on the “Find a Doula Training” tab: On the top navigation bar, click on the “Find a Doula Training” tab, which is under “Become a Doula” tab.

3. Choose your preferred program: From the drop-down menu, select the program you are interested in (Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, or Advanced Doula Certification).

4. Select your location: Enter your country, state/province, or postal code to find workshops near you.

5. Choose a workshop: Browse the list of available workshops and choose one that fits your schedule and location.

6. Register for the workshop: Click on the workshop you are interested in and follow the registration instructions provided. You will need to provide your personal details, payment information, and any required documents (such as proof of CPR certification).

7. Prepare for the workshop: Once you have registered for the workshop, you will need to prepare for it by completing any pre-workshop requirements (such as reading materials) and bringing any necessary equipment or supplies.

8. Attend the workshop: On the day of the workshop, arrive on time and participate fully in all activities and discussions. Take notes and ask questions to enhance your learning experience.

9. Complete the certification requirements: After completing the workshop, you may need to complete additional certification requirements (such as supporting three clients or taking an exam) to become a certified doula.

By following these steps, you can easily find and register for DONA International training courses and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become a certified birth or postpartum doula.

How to Attend Training Courses at DONA International

DONA International offers different options for attending their training courses to accommodate the varying schedules and preferences of their students. Here are the different options available:

1. In-person workshops: DONA International offers in-person workshops worldwide for their Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, and Advanced Doula Certification programs. In-person workshops are conducted by certified trainers and provide hands-on learning experiences, role-playing exercises, and opportunities for networking with other students.

2. Online workshops: DONA International offers online workshops for their Birth Doula and Postpartum Doula programs. Online workshops provide flexibility and convenience for students who prefer to learn at their own pace. They include interactive modules, video lectures, quizzes, and online discussion boards.

3. Combo workshops: Some DONA International trainers offer combo workshops that include in-person and online components. These workshops allow students to complete a portion of the course online and then attend a two-day in-person workshop to complete the training.

4. Private workshops: DONA International also offers private workshops for individuals or groups who would like to schedule a workshop at a preferred location or specific dates. These workshops can be customized to meet the needs and preferences of the participants.

What should clients look for in a doula when they need one? Find out here. 

Video: DONA International Certification Packet

In her insightful video tutorial, Doula Stefanie shares the most frequent errors applicants commit when preparing essential certification paperwork. With a keen eye for detail, she thoroughly evaluates birth records and terminology to ensure viewers complete documents accurately on initial submission, avoiding unnecessary delays and frustration.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long is a DONA International certification valid for?

DONA International certifications are valid for three years. Certified doulas must complete continuing education requirements and pay a renewal fee to maintain their certification.

2. How much does DONA International certification cost?

The cost to become certified through DONA International varies depending on the type of workshop and program. Birth doula training ranges from $350 to $900, and postpartum doula training ranges from $300 to $700.

Additional fees may apply for certification renewal. Payment plans and scholarships are available for those with financial hardship.

3. What are the requirements to become a DONA certified doula?

To become a certified doula through DONA International, you must:

  • Complete an approved doula training program (in-person, online, or combination)
  • Attend a breastfeeding training
  • Provide support to three clients
  • Pass a certification exam
  • Submit certification paperwork
  • Pay certification and renewal fees

4. Will DONA help me look for clients after I get the DONA certification?

DONA International does not help certified doulas directly find clients or employment. However, the organization does provide resources to help doulas market their services and build their businesses. These include mentorship programs, business development courses, and a directory where doulas can create a professional profile.

Certified doulas can also connect with one another through local DONA chapters and online communities to share experiences finding clients in their local areas. Overall, getting certified and utilizing available resources can help doulas establish themselves as knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the birth and postpartum support field.

5. Do I really need a DONA certification to become a doula?

While not required to practice as a doula, DONA International certification demonstrates professional competence and can be an asset when marketing services. Some hospitals and midwives prefer or even require certified doulas. The certification process also provides structured training and an opportunity to build a network with other doulas.

However, some doulas enter the field without formal certification, though they typically have extensive experience or education in a related healthcare field. Whether or not to pursue certification is a personal decision for aspiring doulas to consider based on their background, experience, and career goals.

Final Thoughts

There may not be a universal requirement for a doula to get training, but a certification from DONA International can provide the credentials and recognition to practice as a certified birth or postpartum doula.

Becoming a DONA certified doula can take some time and effort, but it may be worth it for those who are serious about their profession and want to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and skills to offer high-quality support to their clients.

Note: For more details about DONA International and its certifications, please visit their website directly at

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