Doulaing the DoulaBirth Doula Training and Certification

Welcome nurses!

Hands photo copy

All nurses are welcome at any training workshop. This page covers questions frequently asked by nurses. If you are an individual nurse, the curriculum for nursing and medical students has been revised to include a deeper examination of nursing and obstetric practice and offers 18 CEs.  It is offered twice a year, usually in January and August.  An open (to anyone) doula training offers 15 CEs and focuses on doula practice, including business preparation.

We’d like a workshop at our facility?  What are our options? 

The first option is a four hour CE training“Adding to Your Labor Support Toolbox” workshop, which includes positioning, comfort measures, basic use of the peanut ball, and optimizing the nurse’s relationships with fathers and other labor partners. Information about this and other CE workshops are available on Amy Gilliland’s main site.

A second option is the full three day doula training workshop, which enables you to market and advertise your staff as “doula trained”.  Participants are eligible for DONA birth doula certification (if they complete other requirements). In 2018, the training has been revised to include 18 continuing education hours (CEs) for nurses.  Dr. Gilliland is licensed by the California Board of Nursing as a continuing education provider, #16959.  This workshop incorporates both basic and advanced positioning and comfort measure techniques, including the peanut ball.  It also includes several hours on treating the previously traumatized patient. (Often invisible, they may make up to 20% of your patient load.)

The Doula Training Workshop involves the same information as one for people seeking to become doulas, however the material is adapted for the nurse’s role. Because of the nurse’s familiarity with laboring women, materials are used that deepen their understanding and increase confidence in applying new techniques. In addition, their role as teachers of support techniques to patients and family members is also emphasized.




two leaves - png

Nurses are incredibly powerful, and will be remembered forever by the birthing mother they care for. Many nurses want to optimize that experience but are uncertain how to do so. They want to be remembered positively and to know they are making a difference in the lives of that family. The doula workshop increases their skills and confidence.

Some of the nurses are uncertain about whether they will learn anything. How can I address that?
In my twenty years of training nurses in labor support skills, all of the nurses have said they learned new meaningful concepts. The trainings changed how they approached laboring patients, how they viewed childbirth, and gave them strategies to use that they did not know about before. The positioning and comfort measures used by doulas evolved from physical therapy and midwifery practice, which historically are separate from nursing education.

No nurse comes into the workshop knowing nothing! However, all have said they didn’t realize how much more there was to learn. Another gift of the workshop is that your staff increases their communication with one another, shares their successes and failures in certain situations, and creates stronger bonds. There is plenty of time for sharing and interaction built into the workshop. Many nurses say that being around people who believe in women’s bodies and their ability to birth their babies was inspiring and renewing.

Can we get continuing education credit for taking this workshop?
Yes. The open to anyone doula training offers 15 CEs.  The specialty training for nurses, nursing and medical students offers 18 CEs.  The Adding To Your Labor Support Toolbox workshop offers 4 CEs. Dr. Gilliland is licensed by the California Board of Nursing as a continuing education provider, #16959.

Can you shorten the workshop to two days instead of three?
Yes, however that would not be a full doula training workshop. There are advantages to three days: multiple exposures to new strategies builds confidence and more willingness to apply what has been learned with patients. There is something significant about having two sleep periods; the brain processes and retains the material more effectively because of the third day. After all, you want your staff to use what they’ve learned and support one another in doing so.  You are making an investment in them and want to maximize their chances of success.  The third day does that.

If you really only have two days, we can work together to meet your objectives.

Can you remove the business and certification sections of the training? My staff doesn’t need that.
In order to be a full DONA International doula training workshop, I am required to include those topics. However these sessions are kept short, and done to familiarize nurses with this part of being a doula. These topics are less than one hour in the nurse’s version of the doula training.

Three days in a row makes it difficult to staff the birth unit. Are there other options?
Yes. I have taught the workshop one day a week, three weeks in a row, with successful results. I have also done six weeks of four hour sessions. This enables participants to try some strategies and report back to the rest of the group about their success.

Some of the nurses have negative attitudes about doulas. How can I address that?
Some people read the popular book The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, PT, then introduce themselves at a friend’s birth as the laboring person’s “doula”. These people might be “doulaing” their friend, but they are not trained. They may behave in ways that a professional doula would never do, but because of the casual use of the word, they cause damage our reputations. Another possibility is that the doula has taken a training but for their own reasons, has decided not to follow the doula’s standards of practice.

The behaviors that nurses, medical care providers, and professional doulas find most irritating are: speaking on behalf of the mother, openly criticizing medical care or staff, giving medical advice, telling the mother what to do, and having a resentful or suspicious attitude. I want to assure you that these behaviors are not condoned or conducted by professional doulas, who desire respectful and collegial relationships with nursing staff and medical care providers.

Professional doulas consider this to be as much of a problem as you do. It may be helpful when a doula introduces herself, and is not wearing a nametag or certification badge, to ask: “Oh great! Where did you take your training?” If the person is not trained, this question will easily allow the nurse to put the support person into the ‘friend’ category. If the doula has taken a training, this can lead into a conversation about her experience, relationship with the laboring family, and so forth.  Doulas prove themselves through their professional conduct and keeping the focus on the laboring person and their partner.

Here is a handout that may help to circulate among your staff.  NursesDoulasIntroSheet.pdf

Do you have liability insurance? My facility requires it.
Yes, I can provide proof of insurance as a provider of nursing education through a nationwide corporation.



Advertising our staff as ‘doula trained’ has given us an edge over other hospitals in the area.