Are you considering make the jump into doula work or a related field?
Exploring all your options is sure to be exciting. Exciting and overwhelming, too.
As I shared in a previous post on my experience with another doula training and certification organization, I'm frequently contacted by those thinking of making the leap into this amazing work of supporting families in the childbearing year. While sometimes these individuals are interested in my work as a doula, more often they are seeking advice on where to go for training and for certification.
As I've written about before, any deep dive into doula training is sure to turn up some polarizing divisions between different organizations, and some doulas can be quite vocal in their preference for one organization over another. That's all well and good - and as I'll share later in this post, I've have my own preferences, as well.
But, what those conversations often fail to discuss is that you are an individual investing in this training, and it needs to be the right fit for your values and goals. So, even as I'll share with you my experiences with Bebo Mia *- and why I think they are a phenomenal option for training and certification - know that all that enthusiasm comes with the caveat that you should pick the best program for YOU.
Bebo Mia is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, but their programs are fully online, which means you are likely to encounter a diverse group of classmates when you enroll in any of their programs. Each certification can be selected individually or in a bundle for a discount - woohoo for that!
One of the aspects that appealed most to me as I explored Bebo Mia's options was their manner of course delivery. Being a busy homeschooling parent, I knew I needed any program to be self-paced and available online for me to make this work with my life.
When I jumped into my first Bebo Mia course, I was so pleased to find a smart course design that makes learning truly a pleasure. Each module includes a video of class instruction as well as any supplementary videos, a detailed PDF document covering the class content, and engaging homework and assignments.
As an educator myself, I always value sustainable assignment design - that is work that has a purpose and a longevity rather than just a checkbox on your way to the finish line. I consistently found Bebo Mia's course content and individual work to further my understanding of the material and produce homework that actually moved me down the path of my knowledge and business goals.
Additionally, with each Bebo Mia course, you will be added to a private Facebook group just for that particular course and session. These groups allow you to engage more deeply in the course content, ask questions, and gain a sense of community with your fellow learners.
If you are on the hunt for a doula training program, know that Bebo Mia offers an in-depth MSP (Maternal Services Practicioner) Program that covers fertility, birth, and postpartum. Where other organizations may try to cover any of these topics in a weekend, Bebo Mia takes a seriously deep dive over 16 weeks. (While I haven't completed this particular course, my experience in three other courses leaves me confident that this 16-week program would be a solid choice for doula training. And, as I LOVE taking classes with Bebo Mia, I could see myself circling back in the future to take this training, as well.)
Currently, I've completed EcoBaby Certification and Infant Sleep Educator Certification, and I'm finishing the last steps in my Fertility Specialist Certification. I've found Bebo Mia's course design, support, and lived values to be incredibly consistent despite the varied topics and additional instructors.
If you are on the hunt for additional training, know that they also offer Diverse Families Certification, Childbirth Education Certification, and Breastfeeding Education Certification - all of which provide excellent opportunities for continuing your education as a birth professional.
If you are already a trained doula but looking for more support as you grow your business, I'd highly recommend you check out Bebo Mia's Don't Doula it Yourself program. For a super reasonable monthly fee, you get access to their library of business videos - covering everything from getting started, branding, social media, and more - as well as their private Facebook group moderated by a business mentor.
Additionally, that library of content is always growing with more masterclasses as well as live Q&A sessions where you can get answers to your most pressing business questions. Starting a doula business can leave you feeling overwhelmed and lonely, but with the encouragement of this generous DDIY community, you can get the support and community you need to grow your business.
If you haven't already, I'd encourage you to spend some time exploring the Bebo Mia website. Each program has a course outline, certification requirements, and ethics statement all right there, so you can get a good sense of what they offer and their values as an organization.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Pregnancy can be such a busy time - appointments with your provider, researching baby gear, baby showers, planning your leave from work, finding a daycare provider, reading ALL the pregnancy books, turning your house into a home for baby, and so on.
The thought of adding one. more. thing. can be overwhelming - I know I've been there.
There are also financial concerns to balance - anticipating the bill from the hospital, making adjustments for maternity or paternity leave, buying ALL the baby things, and so on.
Given the time and financial pressures of this moment, perhaps it seems like investing in childbirth education - especially outside the hospital classes - is something that can't quite fit.
I hear you. I do.
But, birth matters. Not just birth in general, but YOUR birth matters. You matter.
We often emphasize the importance of a healthy baby, but I maintain there is room for valuing a healthy and happy birthing parent in that equation, too.
As a childbirth educator who offers classes outside the hospital environment, I can share with you all the options and choices - the full birth buffet - rather than a menu limited by policy or staff preference.
As a childbirth educator who is also a doula, I believe in the importance of nonjudgmental support, and I carry this with me into the space and community of my classroom. There is room for your hopes and your fears in my classroom as well as your birth choices, whatever those may be.
Childbirth education shouldn't just tell you about birth, it should prepare you with a confident knowledge of labor and birth. It should support you as you craft a full toolbox particular to your desires to meet birth's challenging moments. And, it should inspire you with a fire to advocate for what is right for you.
And, birth is just the beginning. As a breastfeeding educator and sleep educator, I offer a series of classes to prepare you for life after baby and strengthen your partnership ahead of time to meet the ebb and flow of life with your new little one.
If you're feeling ready to invest in your birth with more classes, I give you a big high five. Come check out the full range of classes offered by Nested Mama, including group classes, webinars, and private classes to meet your busy schedule needs.
***update *** I've recently learned that Madriella removed their advisory board, including the midwife who created their rigorous curriculum. They also closed the Madriella-sponsored Facebook group, which created the rich sense of community support when I went through the program. If you are considering their program, I encourage you to make sure it is the right fit for you by asking any questions you need directly to the organization as this review may no longer speak to the current experience of students in the program.
Are you considering becoming a doula and completely overwhelmed by the options for training and certification? I know I was when I started looking into the education I wanted to build my skill set as a doula.
Because I field this question so frequently from prospective doulas, I'm sharing a bit about my experience with training and certification with Madriella Doula Network. (And if my review makes you jazzed to get started, you can use my affiliate code* TOMLINSON154 to save $50 on the Professional Membership - woohoo!!)
If you've already made a foray into the many large doula groups on social media, you'll know that people often feel VERY strongly about their choice of training and/or certification program. While I am pleased with my training and experience, I tend to be a little more tempered in my recommendations because I think that your individual fit with a program is more important than my personal experience. You want a program that is the right fit for YOU.
So when asked about my recommendations the first thing I point out is that in my community, doulas have trained and certified with a variety of different certifying bodies. Because the doula industry isn’t regulated, my general recommendation is to look closely at the philosophies and method of training offered by those that interest you and find one that aligns with your values as well as learning style.
As I searched various doula programs, Madriella's philosophy resonated with me. (You can read about their philosophy, code of ethics, and history here.) Specifically, I like that the organization didn't seem invested in the divisive language that I found in some other programs. I also appreciated the efforts made to keep their training affordable.
When I dug into the program, I was thrilled to learn that the Professional Membership included not one but TEN courses including birth doula, postpartum doula, professional development, massage for labor, breastfeeding education, childbirth education, loss and bereavement, and placenta specialist (note: this course does not teach encapsulation). More recently, Madriella added two more courses to help better prepare doulas to meet the diverse needs of their clients: Understanding Developmental Disabilities and Young Parent Support Specialist.
If you know me, you know I am a serious serial learner, so the opportunity to have all of that knowledge accessible to me was a huge draw. A little over a year into my professional membership, I've completed five of those courses, and I'm currently in the midst of my sixth.
I also wanted to know that the courses were rigorous, and I would emerge from my training with the knowledge and skill I needed to feel confident in this work. Madriella's curriculum is written by a midwife and the birth course, in particular, is a major deep dive into what you need to know.
Because I was an avid reader about birth before my doula training, I wasn't expecting to be challenged as much as I was - but I was certainly pleased that this was the case. Because Madriella requires all members to complete the first three courses in order - birth, postpartum, and professional development - the courses naturally build on each other. Once you complete those three, you can move onto any of the other courses in any order you wish. I found this really helpful, because it naturally developed my knowledge and meant the other courses didn't feel repetitive.
When you look at doula training programs, it is important to consider your learning style and what course design can help you succeed. For me, reading and writing is my jam, and Madriella's course design works well for this. If I was a different kind of learner, however, Madriella may have not been the best fit - so here is where I really emphasize knowing yourself and what works best for you.
The other thing I needed from any training program was flexibility, and because Madriella is self-paced it fit this need quite well. As the primary homeschooling parent to three little ones, I knew I'd be fitting in this training into the nooks and crannies of life. Because I wrote my dissertation that way after having my eldest, I knew I could make it work if the program was flexible enough.
The flip side of that, of course, is that a self-paced program requires motivation on the part of the learner to complete it. Here, Madriella's online community can be a great help in finding accountability partners or engaging in the community as you move through the program.
In a nutshell, a rigorous program, a supportive community, and a self-paced course design made Madriella the right fit for me.
Is Madriella Doula Network the right fit for you? Jot down my affiliate code* TOMLINSON154 and you can save $50 on the Professional Membership - how awesome!
Got more questions about my experience? Feel free to reach out! And, I'll be following this blog detailing my experiences with another doula training organization - Bebo Mia - soon.
*One of the ways Madriella succesfully keeps the program so affordable is by utilizing affiliate advertising. Please note that as an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you use my code to save on the membership.
Birth is intimate. Birth is powerful. Birth is beautiful. Are you looking for a birth photographer to document this life-changing experience for you? I'm thrilled share with you the fabulous birth photographers who serve Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Read on to learn what makes each of these photographers so talented and unique, and take a look at some of their AMAZING birth photos!
New Creation Photography
What Laura says about birth photography,
Birth can be exhilarating AND exhausting! After photographing nearly 90 births, I've learned to expect the unexpected. It's part of what makes birth photography so exciting! The moments that I have had the opportunity to capture for clients - dad supporting mom through labor, baby taking her first breath, and those teeny tiny wrinkly fingers and toes - are sometimes indescribable, and I'm so honored to be able to provide families with beautiful photographs of their birth story to help them remember the details forever. I am Iowa's most experienced birth photographer and know well the commitment and dedication it requires to be on-call and get to a birth at 2 a.m. when necessary. This is what I do. Years of professional photography experience help ensure that the emotion and events of your baby's birth will be captured perfectly and authentically in breathtaking photos of your big day.
Katie Rivera Photography
What Katie says about birth photography,
Birth. It is one of life's most incredible experiences. There's something about the anticipation, the hopefulness, the tears, the laughter, the joy that make the breath of new life so indescribably beautiful. At Katie Rivera Photography it is my absolute joy to capture these moments and freeze them forever through the art of birth photography. All births come with a uniqueness and a story that has never before been told. Birth photography allows clients and their families to forever recall their unique story; the way moms hands gripped the bed during labor, the room quiet as it witnessed just how strong and beautiful the female body was created to be, baby's first look at the outside world. Details too unique and precious not to be told through the powerful images of birth photography.
After taking part in thousands of births as a former labor and delivery nurse, the miracle of birth never fades. This is why at Katie Rivera Photography I have become so passionate about capturing births! Ina May Gaskin once said, "Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirit for the rest of your life." Get those emotions in a photograph. I promise you wont regret it!
Stacey Schmitt Birth Services & Photography
What Stacey says about birth photography,
As a birth doula, it was easy for me to implement birth photography for my families. I am able to capture moments they want to remember and piece together a timeline of a beautiful day. When the birthing mom is in her birth zone taking on the waves of labor, the support in a firm hand grasp from her partner, to revealing the big introduction of holding baby for the first time; it is your story of transformation to motherhood. Birth photography can be something you display for all to see or keep the story personal; either way the day your baby is born is unforgettable, why not capture those images you can flip through and remember those feelings and emotions of adding a new little to your family.
Little Love Photography
What Emily says about birth photography,
Being invited into a delivery room is the the most humbling experience of my job. Birth is such an emotional and personal time that I am honored when I am chosen to capture that memory for someone. I get to go to work and capture a brand new dad seeing his baby for the first time. I document the look on mom's face when she hears her baby cry for the first time and again when she has this perfect little person placed on her chest. There are a million firsts in birth photography. The first time mom runs her fingers through a fresh head of hair, counting fingers and toes, checking out every single roll, deciding whose nose/eyes/ ears this baby has, foot prints, first diapers, and first baths. There are so many memories that no one wants to forget BUT labor is long. Labor is exhausting. No matter how much we want to remember every single moment of that entire day, some things can be forgotten. And that is why I am there. I want to be the fly on the wall that can flood your memory with every heart tugging moment that happens that day. I have a truly amazing job that gives me the opportunity to meet amazing families. I love what I do.
Rebekah Stewart Photography
What Rebekah says about birth photography,
I love birth photography because no birth is ever the same. Each of my clients comes to me with different experiences and expectations, and each pregnancy and delivery is different, as well. Whether it's a scheduled c-section or a 3 AM homebirth, birth is never boring! My approach during births is documentary or "fly on the wall" - for the most part, I'll only speak when spoken to. My goal is for my birth clients to totally forget that I'm there! Labor and delivery is such an intense time - having a birth photographer ensures all partners are able to be fully present without worrying about missing anything.
Sandi Spurrell Photography
What Sandi says about birth photography,
Priceless is the first word that comes to mind when I think about birth photography. The day you welcome your precious bundle of joy will go by in a blink of an eye! Your baby will have many firsts on this day. The first breath, the first look, the first touch, the first kiss, the first tear, the first pout and many more firsts! Your baby will be cleaned up, weighed, measured, looked over, foot print taken, dressed and then the nurses will put a little hat on his/her cute little head. Having a professional birth photographer there will give you one less thing you will need to worry about on this very important day. The moms that I have photographed for have told me they were so glad they had their births photographed and they look back at the photos often. PRICELESS!
Haley Lent Photography
What Haley says about birth photography,
I love birth photography and I think it’s really important. It is so easy to sort of “forget” all of the little moments that happen during labor and delivery because you’re just so focused. Even in the first days after my deliveries, the details of my labor and delivery experiences started to fade. After several years, things tend to just become a blur. I believe that looking through your birth images really brings you back to those things that have faded over time. You also get a totally different perspective of everything, which is a lot of fun. I feel so blessed that my clients let me into such a huge and personal event in their lives, I’ve even held a leg on a couple of occasions while shooting (which is SO cool). I have never had a client regret having me there to photograph their birth, and they are always just blown away when they see their final images. Births never get old or less exciting and are definitely my favorite thing to shoot.
As a mother of three, I can remember how the births of my babies are now a completely overwhelming blur of emotions. Having a birth story told through images captures each moment, gentle touches, first looks, and the intense emotion of welcoming your baby into the world. After photographing over 30 births, I am continuously amazed at how similar and different each birth experience is. Our bodies are amazing and powerful, and I feel incredibly honored each time I am able to witness the first breaths of a sweet babe. I take the approach of being a fly on the wall, quietly snapping away the moments that are meant to be treasured, and later can be used to provide my clients with a full gallery showcasing the story. Since I don't put a cap on the number of images I provide, each gallery is truly a collection of stills that helps to bring those blurry memories into focus.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.