Doula sitting next to a mother and her baby

How Long Does it Take to Become a Doula – Complete Guide

Doula sitting next to a mother and her baby

As a doula, you will provide emotional, physical, and informational support to expectant and new mothers during childbirth and postpartum. Before starting your journey in this field, it’s natural to wonder about the time commitment required to achieve certification and become a skilled doula. Let’s discuss how long it takes to become a doula!

Steps to Becoming a Doula

Here are the steps to ensure you’re well-prepared to support expectant mothers before, during, and after childbirth.

Choose a Doula Path

When considering a career as a doula, you can choose from various specialized paths, each uniquely tailored to providing support and care during different life events. Here are some of the most common doula paths:

Labor or Birth Doulas

Among the most well-known roles, labor or birth doulas offer holistic support to expectant mothers throughout labor and childbirth. These professionals provide comfort techniques, relaxation methods, and advocacy to help mothers navigate labor challenges and make informed decisions.

Antepartum Doulas

They support pregnant individuals facing complications or difficulties during their pregnancies. Their role involves offering emotional assistance, helping with daily tasks, and providing guidance to alleviate stress during the antepartum period.

Postpartum Doulas

These birthing professionals focus on assisting new parents in the weeks following childbirth. They guide with newborn care, breastfeeding support, light household chores, and emotional reassurance as parents adjust to their new roles.

Full Spectrum Doulas

They extend their support across various reproductive experiences. It includes care during conception, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and even through experiences such as miscarriage, abortion, and adoption. These specialists offer nonjudgmental care tailored to each individual’s unique journey.

Training Programs

The doula training program usually involves both theoretical learning and practical experience. You’ll learn about the physiological and emotional aspects of childbirth, communication skills, comfort measures, and the role of a doula.

Before enrolling in a doula training program, look for a curriculum recognized and accredited by reputable doula organizations, such as DONA International, CAPPA, or ICEA. These programs often cover childbirth education, communication skills, comfort techniques, and more.

Read and Research

It is essential to continuously educate yourself about the latest developments in childbirth, pregnancy, and postpartum care to stay ahead in your profession. The job of doulas leans more towards the practical side.  You must stay up-to-date with evidence-based practices and information. Participating in workshops and seminars helps you add to your knowledge and skills.

Certification (Optional)

While doula certification is not obligatory, it can significantly bolster your credibility within the field. Organizations such as DONA International provide comprehensive certification programs that involve meeting specific criteria. These criteria often include attending births and completing evaluations.


Opting for certification showcases your commitment to professionalism and dedication to acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to excel as a doula. By going through a certification program, you validate your capabilities and gain recognition from reputable organizations, which can, in turn, expand your prospects and reputation as a skilled doula.

Build a Doula Network

Creating a strong network within the birthing community is a pivotal step for any aspiring doula. The expansive connection with fellow doulas, midwives, healthcare professionals, and relevant organizations opens doors to many opportunities. The networks you form are valuable as they aid your journey as a doula in many ways. These connections can lead to support, referrals, and long-term collaboration with like-minded people in your field of work.

Gain Experience

Practical experience is quintessential to being a doula as it helps you put all the theoretical knowledge into practice. You can offer your services to friends and family members or volunteer in organizations. It helps to refine your skills, build confidence, and deepen your understanding of your client’s needs.

Start Your Doula Practice

Now you can begin offering your services as a doula. Irrespective of your doula path – providing birth or postpartum support, focus on building strong relationships with your clients. It requires dedication, empathy, and a commitment to continuous learning.

How Long Does It Take to Get Certified as a Doula?

Depending on your training program, availability, and how quickly you fulfill the certification requirements, it can take a few months to over a year. While there isn’t a fixed timeline, we can provide insights into the general timeframe for obtaining doula certification.


The first step is attending an in-person or interactive virtual doula training. It can span from a few days to several weeks. It equips you with the knowledge and skills to support expectant and new parents during childbirth or postpartum. After this, you will be considered a “Trained Doula” or “Pre-Certified Doula.”


Then, you must fulfill the certification requirements outlined by your chosen doula training organization. These requirements can vary between organizations but often include a combination of reading and writing assignments. The time to fulfill these requirements varies based on individual pace and circumstances.


Many organizations mandate a minimum number of births you must attend as a doula-in-training. While the number of required births can vary, the practical experience allows you to apply what you’ve learned and gain valuable skills. The duration required to accumulate the requisite number of births can vary based on opportunities and individual availability.


Some certification processes involve gathering evaluations and feedback from the families you’ve supported. This feedback helps assess your performance and the impact of your support on clients.


Now you’ll submit your documentation to the certification organization. They will review your materials to ensure you meet their standards and criteria. Depending on the organization’s procedures and workload, it takes several weeks to a few months.


Upon successful review, you’ll receive your official doula certification. This certification acknowledges that you’ve met the requirements and are qualified to provide doula support.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Doula?

Depending on various factors, becoming a doula takes a few months to a year. Generally, birth doulas are required to complete 7 to 12 hours of childbirth education and 16 hours of training and actively participate in 2 to 5 births. The required education, training, and hands-on experience duration may vary for other doula roles.

To be able to provide your service, you must be well-versed in child birthing education, breastfeeding, infant care, and other training classes. Besides, learning about cultural diversity and ethics is essential to cater to diverse household needs.


Whether you want to provide service as a doula or need a doula for your household, we at RCG can help you. With years of proven record matching best-fit candidates to any household, let our lifestyle management company be your compass.

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