What is toLabor’s definition of a doula?
The definition of a doula is commonly attributed to the Greek word that is defined as a slave or a servant. We prefer to use the Ethiopian definition of a dula which is a walking stick. We believe that the Ethiopian definition more correctly describes our perspective of the role of a doula. A doula is not there to do the birth, they are there to walk along with their laboring client, to provide emotional, physical and educational support, to be much like a walking stick, a supportive tool to help one stay on the path.

How do I become a doula?
Read about our workshops and our certification requirements. An excellent way to begin is to attend a toLabor doula workshop! Please check our calendar to see if there is one scheduled in your area.

How do I find a workshop near me?
Please go to our calendar to see our schedule.

Do you offer the doula training online?
No. We know that online learning can be convenient but we feel very strongly that the in-person training to become a doula is imperative to the success of the practice of birth work. The interactions of the participants, the instructor and the hands-on exercises are experiences that are unique and cannot be duplicated with an online course. One of the powerful attributes of the work of a birth doula is as a listener and observer of body language, i.e., tone of voice, facial expression, body positioning, etc., these cannot be learned online. In the current culture of high technology birth practices, a doula is there to humanize the experience. The 3-day in-person workshop emulates the relationship a doula will have with their client in the future.

I am traveling to a workshop, are accommodations provided for participants? Can you help me find accommodations?
We do not provide accommodations for a workshop but the local sponsor can give you suggestions as to where to stay nearby.  Occasionally the workshop will be held in a site that has overnight accommodations available. We will list this on the workshop information page with details as to cost and how to proceed.

I don’t see a workshop near me; can I bring a workshop to my area?
If you don’t see a workshop near you we would be happy to discuss with you the possibility of hosting a training in your area by becoming a sponsor. For more information, please contact our workshop coordinator.

Are there prerequisites to taking the doula workshop?
No, we do not require any previous experience to attend the workshop. Those who attend come from all walks of life and from all levels of experience. We believe that a desire to learn, to have an open mind and an open heart are what is most important.

What is the tuition to attend the workshop?
The base fee for the workshop, which includes your first year of membership, is $625. We offer a discount of a $100 if you register at least 60 days in advance and $50 if you register at least 30 days in advance, There are also periodic discounts dependent on the city, please check calendar for specific details.

Do you offer any other discounts?
We offer a $200 off discount to those who have been previously trained by a nationally recognized birth doula organization, proof of participation in previous training required. We also offer a $225 off discount to those who are currently students in college or a vocational training, proof of enrollment is required.

Do you offer financial assistance, scholarships?
We do offer payment plans and can often work out a flexible plan to meet your needs.

What is your cancellation policy?
Participant Cancellation Policy: Refunds (less a $50 fee) will be given if cancellation is received at least one month prior to the workshop. If cancellation occurs less than 30 days, fees will be applied toward any future toLabor workshop for one year. If cancellation occurs less than 48 hours prior to workshop, no refund will be given and the fee cannot be applied to a future workshop.

Workshop Cancellation Policy: toLabor reserves the right to cancel a workshop due to low enrollment or unforeseen circumstances. We strive to give participants as much advance notice as possible (21 – 30 days) of any change to their enrollment. In the unlikely event that toLabor has to cancel a workshop, we will refund the total registration fee amount or provide a credit note. We recognize that some participants may have to travel to attend a toLabor workshops therefore we encourage registrants to purchase a travel insurance plan designed to protect the traveler from losses.

I am still nursing my baby; can I bring my baby with me? What about pumping?
All babies under the age of 6 months are welcome to spend all of their time at the workshop with participants if needed. We kindly ask that any child 6 months of age and older have a care-provider who can take them during workshop hours.  Breastfeeding children are welcome to come in on an as need be basis to nurse while the care provider waits nearby to once again take the child once they are finished. If pumping is required to be done throughout the weekend, we have no problem with it being done in the room and will leave that to the individual person to decide their comfort level.  We understand the needs of participants and work to make sure that they are met, while respecting the learning space for all involved.

What if I am on-call for a birth at the time of the workshop?
Full attendance of the 3 day workshop is one of the requirements of the certification process.  We understand the unpredictability of birth work therefore we request that you have back-up for your clients so that you will not miss any of the workshop days. If you do in fact miss a part of the workshop as a result of attending a birth, you will be required to re-attend that day at another workshop. We request that you contact the office as soon as possible as to which workshop you would like to re-attend so we can make sure that there is room for you in the training. There is an additional tuition fee of $100 for re-attendance. If you miss 2 days of the workshop you will be required to attend another workshop in entirety and pay the Repeat Workshop tuition of $300.

I do not identify as female, may I attend the workshop?
toLabor welcomes everyone into the workshop, as it takes all of us to transform our birth culture! However, we are still careful about men who wish to enroll since we are sensitive to how a man’s presence may alter the dynamics of the workshop setting. The policy for enrolling men includes having them talk directly to someone at the toLabor office to discuss their interest and motivation in the workshop and some limitations that they may encounter during the workshop weekend. Men do not participate in the pelvic exam exercise, and leave the workshop for the time spent on this exercise.

Will I be certified once I complete the workshop?
No. Attending the workshop is just one of the requirements to be certified. Read about the certification requirements here.

Can I begin to fulfill the requirements prior to attending the doula workshop?
Yes, you may begin reading any of the books; you may attend a Childbirth Education Class series, and/or Breastfeeding Class, and you may attend up to 3 births prior to attendance.

Is there a recommended method to getting all of the requirements completed?
No, you may do the requirements in any order you would like even beginning some of them prior to attending the workshop. You set your order , your pace and your time frame.

Do I have to be certified to attend births?
No. One of the requirements of certification is to attend 6 births. Once you leave the workshop, you will be inspired, informed and excited about attending births.

I see that you require attendance at 6 births, do you have requirements regarding those births, i.e., attending through all of active labor, it must be unmedicated, it must be a vaginal delivery?
We want you to be with the client when they need you to be with them. It may be in the early, active or transition phase or in the pushing stage, the timing for that will be different for each birth. The ultimate outcome of the birth is not the focus, the support, options and choices you provide so that your client can make an informed decision is the important facet.

Do the self-evaluations and client evaluations need to have specific aspects discussed? Do you provide forms to be filled out?
Yes we have forms in the manual that will be given to you at the first day of the workshop. We want a summary on the prenatal visits, significant history, labor highlights, birth highlights, what worked, what didn’t work, postpartum visits and what you learned from the experience. If you attend  a birth prior to the training you may email the office to receive the forms.

Does toLabor offer opportunities to attend births for participants of the workshop?
No. However, the workshop does cover how to network as well as to how to get your name out there to attend births. We will list you on our website as an active doula and will give your contact information if we get an inquiry from a person looking for a doula referral in your area.

What are the certification requirements?
All of the requirements are listed here.

Is there paperwork that I must fill out for the requirements?
Yes, all of the paperwork for certification is in your manual which will be given to you at the first day of the workshop.

Why should I get certified?
There are many reasons to be certified, please read more about the importance of certification.

Is there a time limit on when certification must be completed?
No, though we do encourage that participants set a goal to be certified one year from the workshop.

What if I do not complete the certification within one year, can I still be certified later, and is there a time limit?
Yes. If a year passes between attendance at the workshop and completion of the requirements, you must keep your membership in good standing and renew each year. If it has been 5 years or more since attending a workshop, you will need to attend another training workshop.

Is there an additional certification fee?
Yes, there is a $25 fee to be paid at the time of the certification submission.

How long does certification last?

One year.

I see one of the requirements for certification is to attend a series of childbirth education classes, why?
The CBE requirement is to be a class that is specifically attended by pregnant folks and/or their partners. Your role is to be an observer, listener of the questions, concerns, worries, fears, m​is-information, and lack of information that is expressed by the attendees. It is also important to be listening to the attitudes and perceptions of the instructor, learning new information and also the potential for lack of information or misinformation. Please remember that your role there is as a “doula” and you should be extremely respectful of the participants and the instructor, a good time to practice being present but invisible.

Do you recommend a specific Childbirth Education Class to attend?
No. You may attend any class you choose but we do recommend the hospital based classes as most people attend these classes and they can help to better inform you as to what they are learning and maybe, not learning. You will get an insight to hospital policies and protocols.

What does a “series” of classes mean?
Most CBE classes meet 2 hours every week for 6 weeks and called a series. We will also accept a full day class of 6-8 hours.

What if I am a Childbirth Educator, must I attend a series?
We understand that as a CBE instructor you have plenty of knowledge. We still would like to strongly recommend that you attend a CBE series of classes, preferably in the hospital. We feel that as an instructor your orientation is towards being the instructor, the facilitator. As an observer, a listener (no participation, giving utmost respect to instructor and parents) you will have a different perspective and experience. The hospital-based classes are recommended as that is where so many go for their information and it gives you a real opportunity to hear what is being taught, what is not being taught, the information, the lack of information, the misinformation, the protocols, the attitudes, etc. If you have further questions, please contact the office to discuss further.

If I have already attended a doula workshop with another organization, do I need to attend the toLabor workshop?
Yes, attendance at the toLabor workshop is a requirement no matter the previous experience.

If I have partially or fully completed the requirements for certification for another organization must I fulfill all of toLabor’s requirements?
You will be required to attend the doula workshop and we will accept use of three birth evaluations prior to the workshop and the written exam must be completed. Requirements may be discussed individually with the toLabor office.

What are the recertification requirements?
The recertification requirements are listed on this website.

Must I recertify?
toLabor requires a yearly recertification process in order to maintain the status of Certified Professional Birth Doula. Failure to recertify each year will result in the inability to use the title Certified Professional Birth Doula and removal from our website.

My certification has lapsed, what do I need to do?
You will need to renew your membership which will include a late fee, complete the recertification requirement paperwork and pay the $25 recertification fee. Contact toLabor membership to discuss your situation.

It’s been more than 5 years since I certified what I need to do?
You will need to re-attend the doula workshop, complete the recertification requirement paperwork and pay the $25 recertification fee. Contact toLabor membership at to discuss your situation.

What is the difference between the organization of toLabor and other doula training organizations?
Each doula training organization is independent and though we believe that all share the same intention of helping clients and babies have the best birth experience, our philosophies, teaching, workshop content and structure, our requirements for certification, etc. are all somewhat different. The following may help you better understand who we are and what we present in our workshops

  • We see ourselves as agents of change.  We seek to return the focus of control to the laboring person, to create the space and support for them to have their own voice, to be included and central in their birthing process, not just an understanding, compliant “vessel” delivering a baby. We want you to not only become a doula but a birth activist.
  • We want you to understand the underlying concepts of what/how/why/why nots of labor, the physiology of labor and birth.  What happens physically, mechanically, emotionally, psychologically, hormonally, and how the baby, the environment, the social setting and presence of others all effects and regulates physiologic labor and birth.  To understand what supports and what hinders or prolongs physiologic, productive birth.
  • By understanding the concepts that influence and ultimately control a person’s labor and birth, you can better assess how to assist them in making adjustments that can facilitate a more progressive, productive labor.
  • From this base of knowledge and understanding, you can apply your skills to assist your client through her birth and into the postpartum period.
  • Your depth of understanding of the labor, birth process will give you a perspective on why many after birth are suffering from postpartum depression and/or post-traumatic stress syndrome, enhancing your skills to support your client and others through this very critical period of transition.
  • We provide experiential exercises for you to learn through your own hands what we spend hours talking about.
  • We know that in order for a doula to empower their client, they must be empowered themselves.  By the end of the workshop we expect to send you out the door feeling powerful, inspired and transformed, just as we hope our clients do after their births.

Why do you include palpation, fetal heart tones and vaginal exams as exercises in your workshop?
For all who have participated in the workshop, the experience of working with the pregnant volunteers is probably among the favorite. We include it as an experience of learning to touch…as you are aware doula work is so much about touching of clients, clients on the most part who are  strangers, as will be these volunteers to those in the workshop. Many of the participants are comfortable already with touch; the practice is then to be aware of how this individual person is responding to their touch. Some participants are not so comfortable with touching a stranger and this is a great opportunity to practice what is so essential during the labor process. For everyone, it is about communication…communicating directly with a pregnant person about what feels right, what doesn’t, asking permission and really listening to the answers. The listening to the baby’s heartbeat with the fetoscope is again about communication and deep listening and attention, as well as making all of this real.

The optional vaginal exams are a deeper way of learning. The feedback on the experience is so positive as a learning tool in regard to anatomy, for example understanding truly what the pubic arch feels like, the bone that is so often referred to in labor as, “once we get the baby under the bone”, understanding the stations, the descent of the baby by locating the ischial spines.  And so important, it is about vulnerability. We know a person in labor is vulnerable and how a doula helps to create a safe space for that vulnerability so that it may be transformed into empowerment is the most important aspect of doula work.  Those who chose to participate can speak to this transformation in their own self. But to reiterate this is an optional exercise. These practices are outside the scope of practice of a doula and the instructor makes this very clear. A Scope of Practice paper must be signed by each participant at the workshop stating that this is clearly understood. We do not teach doulas to do this assessments nor do we condone doulas performing these assessments.

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