When considering all the options available to them during childbirth, more and more women are choosing to have a doula supporting them through this difficult, albeit life-changing, moment. The role of the doula is to ensure the best possible experience for the patient and her family, providing nurturing, caring support as well as advice and counsel. Because a doula is not a medical professional and serves more as a helpmate to the family during times of childbirth, no formal training is required. However, doulas who have gone through standardized preparation are more likely to be utilized by alternative healthcare centers and private individuals.
DONA (Doulas of North America) International provides opportunities for training and certification; individuals are required to complete a 16-hour workshop, read five approved books, and be present for at least three births. Birth Arts provides a similar program, but all the material can be completed online, something that can be more beneficial for working professionals. Birth Works offers a combination of these two programs, coupling an extensive online training with an intensive training session that lasts three days. Doula training comes in a variety of forms, but ultimately it is designed to ensure doulas are capable of providing their patients with the best possible support during one of the most stressful times of their lives.