Postpartum Doula & Lactation Educator Trainings FAQ

I am considering taking the training, but I wish I knew more about the role of the doula first…can you tell me a bit about what you do so I can see if it might work for me?

Many new doulas feel this way before they get into doula work. I will be happy to describe what I have seen and experienced with doula work throughout the training, but for a brief overview, check out the Postpartum Support page, where we describe what our doulas do, and then consider some of the talents and skills that you would bring to your work as a doula. You might also take a look at the related blog posts about doula training and work here.

We also offer an introduction to postpartum doula work in a workshop titled, “Thinking you want to be a Postpartum doula?” You can find links for this on the classes page under Professional Training. This workshop will give you a basic understanding of what we do, what a doula training would offer, and allow you to ask your questions to see if the doula role is right for you.

What kind of experience is necessary to become a postpartum doula?

Doulas come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds! Many are moms who experienced less-than-ideal postpartum support and wish they could make things better for another mother. Some are experienced nannies who want to specialize in the care of newborns and provide education to new parents. Some are grandmas who want to provide nurturing support to families with their wisdom and available caring hands. And a few are paraprofessionals who need a more flexible schedule than their current job provides, while still allowing them to use their work experience and skills. Regardless, doulas have to have a heart for serving, experience with newborns, and some familiarity with breastfeeding. You do NOT have to be a mother or have breastfed to be a knowledgeable doula. However you will need to educate yourself on anything you feel that you lack experience or education on. You can have a look at some of the bios of the doulas who serve on our team, and see if any of their backgrounds or talents match what you might offer families.

Passion for the work is important, and I have seen it illustrated it over and over again from the awesome women who take my workshops!

Why should I take a CAPPA training?

This one is easy! CAPPA is the largest childbirth organization in the world, and there are many benefits offered through their trainings and membership. CAPPA is first and foremost a sisterhood of women with a vision for families, babies, and building bridges between professionals. They treat their members with respect and are helpful when you are in need. They respond to queries in the office personally, help you right then and there, and welcome you with their southern hospitality and charm. Their approach also allows for individuality, and they want you to be a part of the doula and educator world. They are an international presence, which means that you can take a training form CAPPA and travel anywhere in the world and they would recognize it. So if you don’t plan to stay in your current location, the possibilities are endless where you could take your doula or educator work. CAPPA is also the only organization I know that offers a FREE conference every year in a different location---and I hope you can join us for one sometime!

Why take MY training?

Doula work is my life and passion. I have been a postpartum doula for over 18 years, 13 of which have been full time, while supporting my family of 4. I live and breathe postpartum doula work, having served well over 2000 families, and I still love it! My examples come from real life families I have served in Portland, OR and the Seattle, WA area. The scenarios I teach in class all have a real family behind them (although protected for confidentiality of course). The activities I use are right out of what I see parents needing every week.

What do you all the letters after your name mean?

Many ask what my credentials mean; here is a breakdown for anyone who is curious:

IBCLC - International Board Certified Lactation Consultant -  I was awarded this in 2011, after working many years to achieve it. It means I can do lactation consults in the home, in the hospital, or at a clinic. The IBC portion means I passed a rigorous 5 hour exam, put in over 90 hours of lactation specific education, and have a college level understanding of the art and science of breastfeeding. (It doesn’t mean I ever stop learning, however!)

CPD (CAPPA) - Certified Postpartum Doula - This means that I am certified as a postpartum doula by CAPPA, who I was originally trained by in 2001. I have to renew this every 3 years, just as all my students do.

CLE® (CAPPA) - Certified Lactation Educator - I have been a lactation educator for many years, and now am certified by CAPPA not only to teach breastfeeding classes, but also as faculty for training others to teach breastfeeding individually and in a group. It's a trademarked program that CAPPA has developed to meet the needs both for practical evidence-based education and to help fulfill the 20 hour breastfeeding education requirement for Baby Friendly status.

CNPE (CAPPA) - Certified New Parent Educator - This is my newest credential, although I have been working on it for over a decade! I co-wrote this program for CAPPA with Senior Advisor Laura Nance, and now train educators all over the US to help new parents navigate their journey with their new babies. This credential is the equivalent of Childbirth Educator certification, but in the baby and new parenting world. We wrote it with the intent for educators not as much to know what to teach, but more about how to teach to a new generation of parents that requires more innovation and less lecture.

CAPPA Faculty - CAPPA awards faculty member status to their trainers. I have been a trainer with CAPPA since 2005 and needed to pass through their process of education, experience, teaching background, and continual faculty approval every year. If you are thinking about becoming a trainer for CAPPA in one of their areas of certification, call the office at 770-965-9777 to hear more about the requirements to apply.

I am also an educator with Providence Health Systems, which allows me the chance to teach expectant parents and new parents all about babies and breastfeeding. This is a joy for me, and a wonderful connection point to what is important to this population.

Other background and education includes advanced training (but not certification) in infant massage, craniosacral therapy for infants, newborn behavioral observation, Biological Nurturing, and multiple nutrition and cooking classes. I consider ongoing education one of the most important factors in staying up-to-date and providing a well-rounded training, and attend events all year long to extend my knowledge both for client families and for my doula students.

I am also a mother of 2, Auntie to 10, and have an extensive background of loving and caring for babies and families since I was very young. It has always been my passion to work with tiny babies and everyone around them who loves and protects them, and I finally found a profession that honors parents while meeting the needs of babies. Sometimes I think it is a dream come true.

Are there any prerequisites for the workshop?

There is a Pre-Training Assignment that we ask students to fill out before they attend a workshop, but other than that, there are no classes to take beforehand. Getting certified is a process however, and the workshop is only 1 step into that process. There will be plenty to do to get certified after the training.

How can I get certified?

The process is detailed on the CAPPA site here. If you take a workshop with me you will be going the Traditional route, not the distance, so make sure you get the right requirements (the distance certification is far more demanding due to no contact hours in the classroom). We have the wonderful CAPPA Academy that governs our certification process, as well as provides almost instantaneous feedback which is so rare in the certification process. I have seen doulas get certified in only 3-4 months, and I have seen some take up to 2 years! It is up to you how fast you can get it done.

What can I do to help prepare for the workshop?

Any amount of reading you do will help you get more from the workshop! Here is the updated reading list from the CAPPA site. You do not have to own these books, but taking time to read some of them before the workshop will allow you to ask just the right questions, move through the material quickly, and get to the fun parts faster!

You can also plan a little about running a business before you get trained, and join some online groups of doulas like The Postpartum Doula Group on FB to hang out with other doulas and get some of those newbie questions answered.

If you plan to get certified, you will not want to join CAPPA Academy (our online certification program) until after you have taken your training. None of your work will apply towards certification if you don’t first take the training, and you are much more likely to pass the test afterward than beforehand (a few have not passed when they took it too early).

What is the Advanced Postpartum Doula Workshop?

We now offer workshops for the trained doula (certification optional) specifically offering further training on working with multiples. This is a one day workshop (8 contact hours) that is hands on and informational, including in most locations a demo with live babies and lots of practice hands on (with dolls) to get your confidence up to work with families of twins or more. You can get more information on that workshop on the Advanced Doula Trainings page.

If you have questions we haven’t answered, feel free to send them our way!