Colleges to Become a Doula
In addition to clinical care from physicians, expectant mothers can benefit from the emotional support provided by doulas who help them prepare for childbirth and make the transition to the initial stages of motherhood. Read on to learn more about what doulas do. Learn about training programs and voluntary certification, and see what the job prospects are for this career.
What Is a Doula?
Also known as birth assistants or labor companions, doulas are professionals trained to provide emotional support to women at all stages of childbirth. As a doula, you would act as a liaison between mothers, their partners, their families and the attending nurses and physicians. You would also use therapeutic techniques to reduce stress or mitigate pain during labor. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the presence of a doula can decrease the need for forceps delivery, caesarian sections, prolonged labor and infant hospitalization.
What Colleges Offer This Type of Training?
Some colleges and universities offer doula training in the form of 4-day on-campus workshops taught by professional midwives or certified doula instructors. Topics of discussion can include breastfeeding support, emotions associated with pregnancy, newborn care, professional ethics and techniques for providing physical comfort. These programs might require you to complete assigned readings or observe a childbirth education class before attending.
Doula training can also be provided to nursing school students who would like to supplement their clinical skills. Some schools sponsor workshops, while others allow student nurses to volunteer their services to expectant mothers.
Can I Become Certified?
You can obtain voluntary certification as a doula from professional organizations, such as DONA International and the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA). Certification is usually broken down into two options: birth doula and postpartum doula. CAPPA offers an additional antepartum, or pre-birth, certification.
Certification requirements are fairly extensive. Qualifications can include the completion of approved childbirth education and breastfeeding courses as well as a doula workshop. Distance education students might be interested to learn that some of these training materials are available via DVDs or online independent study courses.
You might also need to complete an assigned reading list, write an essay and provide doula services to at least three clients. CPR training is required for some certifications.
Where Can I Work as a Doula?
After completing a training program, you may be able to sign on with a volunteer doula agency. Some doulas set up their own practices or work for hospitals. You might also continue your education and become a midwife. Unlike doulas, these health care professionals can provide medical services, such as gynecological exams.