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A doula is a non-medical professional that assists parents during the childbearing year with information, emotional, and physical support. Becoming a doula is a calling, not a job, that many women (and some men!) have heard and answered.

How to Become a Doula

Doula work is an unregulated profession which means anybody off the street can call themselves a doula. That being said, I highly recommend taking a doula training with a reputable organization like DONA or CAPPA. You will learn the scope of a doula’s practice, practical advice, but also become a part of their network for support and referrals. Their certification process will help you progress in your career, and keep you accountable to their standards – which are very good things.

Types of Doulas

The two main types of doulas are a birth doula and a postpartum doula. I’ve also heard of death doulas, doulas that help parents through a miscarriage, and pregnancy doulas.

Birth Doula

The most common doula is a birth doula that provides continuous support right before, during, and after childbirth. Doulas typically meet with parents one or two times prior to delivery, going over their birth plans and discussing the particulars of their situation. Doulas don’t cover the breadth of a childbirth class, but help parents take when they learned in class and develop a plan.

Once labor begins, parents and doulas meet up and begin the journey. Typically doulas stay with their clients through the entire birthing process, but sometimes call a backup doula for additional assistance. After birth, a birth doula will stay with their clients for 2-3 hours after delivery, leaving time to initiate breastfeeding, and settle parents in with their newborn.

Cesarean Doula

Birth doulas also help parents through cesarean birth – in preparation, during, and immediately following, just like a vaginal delivery.

Postpartum Doula

Postpartum doula services is one of the most amazing experiences offered to new parents. This type of doula may have also helped the parents through birth, but more often than than not, is just helping them after birth.

A postpartum doula offers day and nighttime support through breastfeeding assistance, community referrals, light housekeeping and meal preparation, and more!

Doula Business Skills

Owning a birth business requires skills to operate a business, but also work with other birth professionals. Here are Mother Rising’s latest advice on owning a birth business:

How to Pay a Backup Doula so Everyone’s Happy

Why New Doulas are Better Than You Think

Boundaries for a Healthy Doula Business

How to Create a Sustainable Birth Community

Want more? Here are Mother Rising’s latest posts on all things doula.