Become a Holistic Doula (from anywhere!)

Holistic Doula

Provide continuous, culturally competent physical and emotional support to childbearing women and their families in your community or globally

Our Holistic Doula program promotes complementary and alternative approaches to health, evidence-based standards of practice, and continuity of care for mothers, babies and families during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood with an emphasis on global health leadership.

Upon successful completion of the program, you will become a Certified Holistic Doula. When a Birth Institute graduate adds the designation “Certified Holistic Doula” after her name, it indicates that she is part of a growing global community of birth advocates whose education and training goes above and beyond existing certifications.

“Working with Birth Institute, I am becoming more committed to my passion for maternal care giving and empowerment every day.”


Our unique 540-hour structured program includes 240 hours of instructor-led online coursework and 300 hours of applied learning in the field with the support of approved doula mentors, culminating in a professional portfolio to support creation of a thriving doula business. While most programs segment doula training, our comprehensive curriculum covers both birth and postpartum doula care. Competency-based education prepares graduates to provide prenatal and postpartum care to women and families in a variety of settings, from homebirth to hospital birth.

The following requirements must be completed within 18-months:

Essential Competencies Online Coursework

  • 160-hour Doula Foundation course (Quarter 1, 8 weeks)
  • 160-hour Holistic Women’s Health course (Quarter 2, 8 weeks)

Doula Field Work

  • 120-hours of self-paced community engagement

Service Project

  • 120-hours (8 Weeks)
  • Volunteer in a women’s health clinic (approximately 15-hours per week)
  • Theoretical coursework focusing on global women’s health (approximately 20-hours per week)
  • Option to participate in Global Health Study Abroad to fulfill this requirement (see below for more information)

Total: 560 Hours, 18 months

Perspectives in Global Women’s Health

As a Holistic Doula student, you may choose to participate in an 8-week Global Health Study Abroad course any time after you have completed Introduction to Holistic Doula Care. Through this experiential learning abroad opportunity, you will visit Guatemala or Bali to explore the doula’s role in global maternal health, and gain critical perspective on the doula profession as a whole.

Note regarding practicum requirements: Study abroad is designed to deepen participants’ understanding of global maternal and newborn health. Students who elect not participate in Experiential Learning Abroad will be required to complete additional coursework as part of the Holistic Doula Practicum.

“It is my vision to empower families to look to the traditions within their own and other cultures for wisdom about birth as a normal physical process and a sacred life event.”

Upcoming Courses

Introductory Course & Practicum beginning September 12, 2016

Introductory course is completed in two modules and is a total of 16-weeks in duration. The field work practicum is self-paced. To ensure the best possible experience for students, study abroad placements may NOT overlap with the introductory doula course (Please visit the Global Health Study Abroad page for 2016-2017 program dates).


Many doula students believe that they can save money by taking a short weekend doula course. However, start-to-finish doula training typically costs $2,400+ and requires students to juggle a multitude of additional requirements without support. Our program includes comprehensive birth and postpartum doula training and up to 1-year of online instructor support for the same amount (or less) compared to less structured/supported options.

Please visit our Tuition & Fees page to learn more and to download a tuition brochure. 

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Holistic Doula Certificate program, applicants must complete a student interview and must have a high school diploma (or equivalent) with a 2.75 cumulative GPA or higher. A maximum of 30 students will be accepted to each course.

Application Process

Applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. Students who have participated in Birth Institute Study Abroad courses will be given priority standing. Applicants who receive an offer of admission are required to submit a tuition deposit to guarantee placement.

Ready to apply?  Please visit the online application for instructions

Becoming a Certified Doula

A Holistic Doula Certificate is presented by Birth Institute upon completion of the 16-weeks of introductory courses, 120-hour field work practicum and 120 hour service project. Students who meet DONA International requirements qualify to apply for certification as both prenatal and postpartum doula through DONA International.

NOTE:  Birth Institute does not oversee doula licenser or regulation in any country, state, or jurisdiction and participation in Birth Institute programs or courses does not guarantee certification with DONA. Students who wish to become certified upon completion of the Holistic Doula Program are responsible for educating themselves about regulatory requirements and restrictions to doula practice in the place where they wish to become a practicing doula.

Take the next steps!

For more details on essential competencies offered, course structure, learning activities, field work and service project requirements, etc., please download the Birth Institute Course Catalog under “Learn More” on the navigation bar above, and connect with us to learn more about how the Holistic Doula program can serve you in your life and career.