Doulaing the DoulaDONA International Birth Doula Training Workshops

Where Do I Begin?

Everyone starts in a different place but most people know a lot more than they think they do.  If you’ve always been interested in birth, you’ve probably listened to a few birth stories, read some articles and seen some videos.  That’s great because that’s exactly what you’ll continue to do to prepare for the training!  But now you’ll have more direction and focus.  If you have any questions at all, please email  – I want you to feel confident and enthusiastic from the very beginning.

Do I need to have completed a childbirth class?


Participants get the most out of the workshop when they have a working knowledge of childbirth and its related procedures. In the doula training, I will discuss how a doula helps a laboring person who has an epidural. I will not cover information that would be in a childbirth class, such as epidural administration, side effects, or when someone can receive an epidural in labor.Many doula workshops require that you are enrolled or have completed a childbirth class prior to your training. For DONA certification, all doulas must take a childbirth class not as a pregnant person. I recommend but do not require that participants attend a quality (14 or more hours) childbirth class before taking the workshop. Most people take the Introduction to Childbirth for Professionals course since it is designed to fit with the Doulaing The Doula DONA Approved training curriculum.

If you are uncertain about your readiness, download the pretest from the Already Registered page and use it as a checklist.  If you are still questioning, please do not hesitate to or phone, I am willing to help.  People from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds have been trained to be successful doulas.  You can too!

What Am I Expected To Know Before The Training?

These concepts are important to know before attending. A good way to assess your understanding is to explain each of these concepts to another person (by writing or talking). If you can do that in an organized way, your working knowledge is where it needs to be.

  • Anatomy of the reproductive system and breasts
  • Physiology of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and breastfeeding
  • Definitions of medical terms regarding labor
  • Common procedures and tests used during normal birth, their risks and benefits
  • Intravenous pain medication, administration and effects
  • Epidural pain medication, administration and effects
  • Procedures for a cesarean birth
  • Normal newborn appearance and procedures
  • Basic relaxation techniques, breathing patterns and other comfort measures for labor
  • Benefits of breastfeeding

You can build your knowledge by reading the required and recommended books; viewing birth videos, taking a hospital tour, listening to women tell their birth stories, watching birth videos on YouTube, or taking a birth class meant for parents. Past participants say that the absolute best way to feel prepared is by taking Amy’s Introduction to Childbirth course.

The Pretest is a self-assessment tool available on the Already Registered? page. It is designed to help you focus on areas where you need to deepen your understanding and to help me adapt each workshop to the needs of the participants. It lets you know what I think is important.

You cannot over-prepare for this workshop! Nurses with twenty years experience find they learn a lot that they didn’t know before. However, the beauty of the training is that people who have never been to a birth or had a child have a fulfilling and moving experience. If you are uncertain about your readiness, please do not hesitate to  or phone me, I am willing to help.

Required Texts

All participants are required to read two books prior to the workshop. Usually, these books are available at your local library.

  • The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirthby Penny Simkin (5th edition)*
  • Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley and Ann Kepler* (5th edition) OR   The Mother of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas (2nd edition)*

If you don’t know much about the doula’s role, you may also wish to read:

  • Special Women: the Role of the Professional Labor Assistant by Polly Perez and Cheryl Snedeker OR  The Doula Book by Marshall Klaus, John Kennell and Phyllis Klaus*

Another great book full of assistance for those supporting the mother in labor is Polly Perez’ The Nurturing Touch At Birth. I love the new edition! If you have not attended a consumer-oriented or woman-centered childbirth class, we highly recommend that you read Ina May Gaskin’s Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth*.  Best evidence is reviewed in Henci Goer and Amy Romano’s Optimal Care in Childbirth* and Simkin and Ancheta’s Labor Progress Handbook. I also highly recommend Kimberly Seals-Allers, The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy to increase empathy of how pregnancy and birth are different for Black and African American women.

*required for DONA certification, but not for this course. See complete list here.

If you are interested in watching films, I highly recommend the documentaries, “Pregnant In America” (2009) and “Orgasmic Birth” (2008) or its shorter sister version “Ecstatic Birth” (2011). “Born In The USA” (2000) is a very revealing PBS funded movie. I show“Giving Birth” by Suzanne Arms during the workshop.

Want some more creative ideas to prepare?  Want to complete some of your new doula tasks now?

Feel like you want your doula training to start now?  Click here!

Once you register for the workshop, you’ll need to complete the pretest, read the DONA International Birth Doula Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, and  the Birth Doula Certification Requirements.  Links to all of these documents are on the Already Registered Page.

 Here’s a handy pdf to help you on your way! Ten Steps to Your Doula Dreams

Amy managed to work in the social and political context of doula work while still keeping it heart centered. I learned so many concrete skills to use in other aspects of my life. This training was so much more than I expected it to be.