Career as a Doula

Related Page:  Doula Recommendations

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Recommend Birth Doula Training?

Oct 2013

I've recently considered training to become a doula and discovered there are quite a few options out there, as well as the decision to do it through a DOMA- affiliated program or not. I want to hear from those who have done the doula training and could recommend their place of training. Also, any advice as to whether it's worth doing DOMA or not. I'm not that familiar with the cirriculum, but one that includes teaching of meditation techniques for labor or mind-body awareness would be preferred. I'm also a massage therapist if that makes any difference in terms of preferred style. Amy

I can recommend Open Heart Doula Training in Albany. Carol Shattuck-Rice has trained doulas for many years and is an experienced doula herself. I took the training earlier this year and was very happy with how prepared it made me to help moms in labor, as well as through continued mentoring and help I received afterwards from Carol and other doulas I met through the class. It is a DONA workshop, and personally, I am happy that I chose DONA. Completing the requirements of the certification made me a better doula, and I think that DONA's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are very good as well to guide doulas to be safe and smart, especially for someone just starting out in the doula profession. I was able to complete my certification requirements within 5 months of the training. Best of luck in your doula journey! Sara

There are SO many good trainers in our area. My question to you would be do you want to be DONA certified or not? Go to and check out their philosophy to see if it meshes with yours. If it does, this is a listing of the CA trainers in our area:

Carol Shattuck-Rice (510) 527-7210 carolshattuck-rice [at] Felicia Roche (510) 427-1197 doula [at]
Debra Lavin (707) 319-9977 info [at] Birth Doula Trainer

There are other groups that do training that are not affiliated with DONA; here are a couple local websites:

Whomever you decide to train with, do your research and make sure that you are coming away with good skills. I do Doula Mentoring, so please feel free to contact me directly if you like. Deanna

Career as Birth Doula While Being a Single Parent

March 2011

I am wondering if there are any single mom's out there that are birth Doulas? My daughter is 6. I have her 50% of the time and am wondering if it is possible to be a single parent and be a birth Doula. I would love any advice or support around this potential career choice. Also, I would welcome any info anyone might have on Doula training classes in the East Bay or San Francisco. Thanks

Hi! Becoming a doula is a very rewarding career choice! I am not a single mom, but am a Chiropractor and Doula, and the great thing about Doula work, is that you can work as little or as much as you like, and can decide how many clients you can take on at any given time. So many women need good support during their birth process. Please feel free to contact me as well if you have questions or want more information!

I once had a neighbor who was also a single mom and a birth doula. She had to give it up because she was often called away to assist at a birth and wasn't able to find last minute child care for her daughter. anon

i have been a birth doula for almost 10 years and solo parent for 7 1/2 of those years. i don't have the typing skills or the time to write the amount of reply i'd like to give you but please feel free to email me your number and we can talk on the phone. take good care, s

Hi - As a mother who had a doula that is a single parent, I feel a strong need to reply. Our doula, who came highly recommended (and has been mentioned on this list), ended up giving us bad advice. When my water broke at night, she suggested we wait until I had contractions to go to the hospital. By the time we got there, I had an infection and the end result was my baby and I were both hospitalized for a week. While in the NICU I was treated with scorn as the mother that did not come in when her water broke - the nurses gossiped and treated me horribly all week for being such a negligent mother.

In speaking with other doulas I know that if postponing the trip is recommended, the doula still comes over to your house and checks your temperature on a regular basis to make sure there is no infection. I am pretty sure our doula gave us such negligent advice and did not check in as she should have because it was night and she had no other care for her child. As a result, my daughter's start in life was unduly traumatic (5 spinal taps!!) and could have easily been avoided. I am still traumatized and cannot talk about that week without crying.

I would never recommend a doula that does not have a back up plan for care for her own kid(s) (I actually hesitate to recommend one at all after my experience). If you have a strong network of support, then go for it. But please, always second guess yourself when you are feeling stressed about having to leave your kid to attend a birth! You could be making suggestions that can have significant impact on the family you are responsible for. Lise

Becoming a Postpartum Doula

Oct 2007

Hello, I am interested in becoming a postpartum doula. I have completed almost all the prerequisites necessary before doing the DONA workshop/training. I have a few questions, though, and wondered if anyone out there might be able to help me, on- or off-list.

Mostly I'm wondering how important being DONA-certified is. I would like to work pro-bono, with women who couldn't otherwise afford a doula, and finance this work by also working for people who can pay well. I would probably only doula part-time (as I'm also a book editor and would like to continue doing that as well). If it's possible, I'd like to start trying to get work soon rather than waiting until next year (which is the soonest there's a DONA postpartum workshop in the Bay Area, according to the DONA website). As long as I'm clear about my experience/ qualifications, is it ethical to advertise my services on Craigslist or BPN?

I have experience as a postpartum doula with friends and their newborns; I have two decades of experience with children, including newborns; and I have a 5-year-old son that I breastfed for 3 years, during which time I read many books on the subject. Mostly, I'm a big believer in this work being potentially the difference between a positive postpartum experience and a negative one--and I'm excited about providing the support to new mamas that I did not myself have.

Thank you for your time

Honestly, my experience has been that potential clients much prefer experience over certification. You would probably want to take a workshop or series of classes that cover not only the nitty gritty aspects of doula-ing, but also go over contracts, fees, liability issues, etc. I think some level of training is important, but both the DONA and ALACE certification processes are lengthy and time consuming. Most doulas have worked while in the process of achieving certification (as certification requires that you attend a specific number of births and so on) but you can definitely work without ever being certified. If, later on, you wanted to teach a doula course, then you'd probably want to be certified. All that said, you sound like you have a wonderful amount of experience and would be an asset to any woman's post-partum experience. birth doula

I know this isn't the advice you had asked for. I think there's a huge need for postpartum doulas even in Berkeley. In my mom's group, I and several others had hired people who marketed themselves as postpartum doulas and they quite frankly weren't helpful and even made the postpartum time more stressful.

I just wanted to give you some unsolicited advice for once you do start helping other women (hope that's ok). First, please don't put down anyone for having pain meds or going through a c- section because there are many reasons why these things are used and your job is to be helping. If you don't believe in these things or are even biased against them, make it very clear from the outset so that you save people from emotional trauma during the first few weeks of recovering. Second, try to make it clear beforehand what your job will be - if you're preparing meals, make a plan for what meals you could make beforehand so that you'll be ready to buy the ingredients and cook everything without being constantly supervised or interrupting people trying to sleep. Third, try to make it easier for the parents, not just for yourself. Don't make the baby sleep all day to make it easier for you, only to leave the parents with a wakeful baby at night (although I realize this will naturally be the baby's rhythm at first). Try to plan what you'll need to clean around the house beforehand, and think of ways to make things easier (for ex., how to arrange baby items). Fourth, if the limits of your breastfeeding assistance is to schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant, don't market yourself as an expert in breastfeeding.

I don't mean anything personally against you in this message, I just don't want anyone else to have as bad an experience as we did. It sounds so far that you're a genuinely decent person, so I wish you luck in your very noble endeavor. Anon

Career as a postpartum doula

April 2006

I am interested in becoming a postpartum doula, but would like to talk to someone who has done it to find out if I would be good at it and enjoy it. I would like to know what the training is like and if there is work to be had. Please email me with your information so I can call when it's convenient for you. Thank you! Elizabeth

I would recommend giving Carol Shattuck Rice a call at 510.527.7210. She conducts doula training classes and also works as a postpartum doula. She's very warm and friendly and is truly passionate about her work. I'm sure would be very happy to talk to you about the profession. Cindy