Want To Be A Doula? Your Journey Begins Here

by Jenn Fontaine – DONA International Certified Birth Doula Trainer

Who is DONA International?

DONA International is the world’s premier doula organization. They are the oldest, largest and most respected doula association in the world. Their founders are among the foremost experts on doula care, and DONA International certification is a widely respected measure of quality and professionalism. They are an international, non-profit organization of doulas that strive to have every doula trained and educated to provide the highest quality and standards for birth and/or postpartum support to birthing women and their families. To that end, they promote continuing education for doulas and provide a strong communication link among doulas and between doulas, families and the medical birthing community.

They are an amazing community with a shared passion for families that reaches around the world. DONA International doulas and the families they serve are in more than 50 countries.



Q: Isnt DONA an American organization? Why would I want to have an American certification?

DONA International’s offices are based in the United States, but it a truly international organization.

DONA International surpassed 10,000 certified birth and postpartum doulas since their founding in 1992, and have over 7,000 members! Their global reach to pregnant and postpartum families continues to grow with members in 50 countries. The DONA International doula certification – CD(DONA) is an internationally-recognised and highly respected certification.

More and more women are aware of the benefits of having a doula to support them during their labour (and in the early postpartum period) and are looking to engage one for their birth. While many doulas find that their presence is welcomed and respected in hospitals, that is not always the case. There is still a high degree of misunderstanding on the part of the obstetric medical team that do not understand the doula’s role, and in some cases, doulas experience a blatant, even hostile disregard for their professional services.

It is inevitable that there will eventually become the need for some degree of regulation within the doula profession. Consistency of training, certification and ongoing professional development will all be impacted. It is important to be proactive as a profession and to self-regulate, rather than wait to have regulation forced upon doulas by the medical profession. American doulas have been facing this battle for many years, and DONA International has been the leading force in terms of doula advocacy and recognition.

Q: I already have doula certification. What’s the benefit of having DONA International on top of the qualifications I already have?

DONA International is the premier doula association. With more than 7,000 birth and postpartum doula members and growing, they are the largest doula association in the world. By offering A DONA International training, we are providing quality training and meaningful certification. DONA International serves mothers and families by providing access to information and research about doulas, childbirth and the postpartum experience. DONA International certification sets the bar for doula education and professional development. It indicates to families that a doula has achieved a high level of training and professionalism.

DONA International has standards of practice and a code of conduct that doulas, hospital staff AND families can count on. Having a certified doula with an international organisation lets people know you have gone through a training process and adhere to these standards of practice. There are professional standards, accountability and continuing education opportunities.

Q: I don’t have any background or training as a doula. Can I still do the DONA training?

Most definitely! No prior training or experience is required to attend the training. The 4-day training forms a part of the overall certification process (the rest is self-study and birth support experience) and you will have up to four years to complete all the required study modules.postpartum2

Q: What led you to become a doula and a birth educator?

After the birth of my twins, I spent a lot of time processing the experience. It was quite traumatic for me. When I was pregnant with my middle son a friend recommend that I hire a doula. At that time I didn’t know what a doula was! We met with a doula and hired her. It was such an empowering, transformative experience that as soon as he was born I signed up for a doula training! Teaching childbirth classes was a natural progression for me as I loved to teach and talk about birth. I am certified through Lamaze and HypnoBirthing.

Q: While DONA International has a lot of recognition in the United States, it is less well-known in Canada. Can you tell us a bit about DONA and particularly why you love being a DONA doula and doula trainer?

I was actually a doula with three different organizations for a bit before falling in love with DONA International. You can read about DONA’s history here http://www.dona.org/aboutus/mission.php But I’ll tell you what made me choose DONA.

  1. The clear support for women. They are about supporting women whatever her needs are. It is not about trying to change her wishes or convince her of anything. It is 100% supporting her with no judgement. I love this and believe women today need this.
  2. The professionalism. DONA International cares about current research. they care about getting back to people and answering questions. I see the leaders speak with kindness and integrity about women, caregivers and other organizations. The code of conduct and standards of practice are core to DONA International. They have high standards and clients/caregivers can clearly know what to expect with a DONA doula! This stands out to me as outstanding.
  3. The clear support for their members. I know that a question will be answered when I email or call. I know they hear the needs of the members and are always working to make things better and keep up “with the times.” I feel heard by DONA International.
  4. The fact that it is International! Not just meaning they have doulas in other countries, but that they are activity supporting doulas around the world. They have a Multicultural director who helps make sure all pregnant people are getting the support they deserve. They also care about non “traditional” families! This is something that is important to me.
  5. The leadership! Every single one of the founders is amazing. very single founder has done so much to advance doulas, women, babies, families. I am in awe everything I read something or hear them speak. This shows me a solid, long lasting foundation.

Q: What can I expect to learn in the DONA International Birth Doula Training?

  • About birth. The physical aspects, the emotional ranges, what is happening.
  • About interventions. When are they used? How are they used?
  • About Breastfeeding. How? Why?
  • About support. How can we support families with all kinds of births. How to provide non-judgmental support in all situations. Through a cesarean births, with the use of pain medications, or unmediated births.
  • Active listening. How can we practice active listening so we can best support our clients.
  • About their own bias.
  • About where we have learned about birth.
  • About business aspects. How to find clients, what to charge, how to keep paperwork.
  • About DONA International and what they can offer you.

Q: Can you explain a bit more about the process of certification with DONA International?

  • Attend a DONA approved Birth Doula Workshop
  • 2.Purchase a DONA International Birth Doula Certification Packet.
  • Read and sign the following documents:
    1. DONA International Birth Doula Code of Ethics
    2. DONA International Birth Doula Standards of Practice
  • Complete the required reading from the Birth Doula Required Reading List.
  • Fulfill a Breastfeeding Requirement
  • View one (1) DONA International webinar with a business theme. to satisfy this requirement.
  • Childbirth Education Requirement ***** As a bonus this is included in your training*******
  • Develop a list of at least forty-five (45) local/area resources in at least thirty (30) different categories.
  • Provide birth doula labor support to several clients and their families. Choose three (3) support experiences for certification.
  • Become a member with DONA International (This can be done at any time before paperwork is completed)
  • Pay certification application fee

Q: Where can I train to become a DONA International Certified Birth Doula?

In Winnipeg Birth Roots offers DONA International approved birth doula trainings. In addition as part of this training we also offer a special prenatal class just for aspiring doulas working towards their certification. We also have a selection of advance doula workshops for continuing education. Training dates are available by clicking here DONA TRAINING

Q: Who is the training aimed at? Do you require a background as a birth professional?

This training is really for everyone and anyone! Want to understand birth more? It’s for you! Want to support a friend or family member who is pregnant? It’s for you! Want to change career paths? It’s for you!

I have had 16 year old participants who have no prior knowledge take the training and I’ve had a Doctor or Obstetrics take the training. It does not matter if you have had children of your own, nor your age!

Q: What sort of follow up and support is available to students after the training?

This is very important to me. Nothing is worse than taking a training and having no followup! Thankfully technology is amazing. I of course am available by email anytime. but am planning on Skype sessions to make sure everyone is getting their needs met. Two weeks after the training, a month later and each month as needed.

More about Jenn Fontaine


Jenn FontainMy birth journey started 14 years ago with the cesarean birth of my twin boys. Their birth sparked in me an interest to know more and become involved in the birth community. I hired a doula for my next son’s birth and it was an amazing experience. My daughter was born 2 years after that in a wonderful home birth. My husband Marc and children are so supportive of the work that I do. I am fascinated with birth, it is such a beautiful process. I am in awe of how the body works together to create and nurture a baby. What an amazing opportunity I have to be a part of this process and help others find their path. I am a certified childbirth educator through Lamaze, a certified birth doula through DONA International, and a DONA International Approved Birth Doula Trainer. I also am a certified Happiest Baby Educator, Sign2me Instructor and Manitoba car seat tech. I am committed to education and furthering my skills and feel so blessed to share this passion with the families I work with.