Revolutionary Doula Certificate Program

belly with stretch marks
“You call them
Harpoon scars and dermatological imperfections.
Well, I call them
Awarded for years of active duty in the cervix.”Beth Murch, “Stretch Marks”

Program Overview

The Revolutionary Doula Certificate Program is one of the most comprehensive doula training programs offered in North America. Students should be aware that they will be committing to actively engaging with course materials on a regular basis, on at least a monthly level, for no less than one year. This is not “McDoula” training – there will not be any pre-packaged, processed, reconstituted, or artificial curricula. There will be no cheap mimicry of other doula programs. Each student will receive artisanal workshops and guidance from Beth and her colleagues – always fresh, always organic, always unique. There is not a focus on “selling” Revolutionary Doula Training as a better way of learning – the understanding here is that you would actively make the choice to invest in your scholastic experience, not that you need to be fooled with cheap trickery in order to part you with your money.

Revolutionary Doula Training is based on complementary and integrative approaches, bridging issues of doula work/birth work/the childbearing process with the refinement of professional skills, and issues of social justice. The goal is to create confident, competent doulas who possess the skills to support their clients holistically – within appropriate cultural and social contexts. Each educational component is meant to enhance the basic skills a doula receives during their initial two-day training workshop so that Revolutionary Doulas are doulas who are serve their clients on a superior level.

Graduates of Revolutionary Doula Training will have the knowledge and experience to form their own private businesses, form a collaborative practice with other doulas, or to offer services to social profit agencies that may benefit from having a highly trained professional within their community.

Established doulas who wish to upgrade their knowledge and skills on any subject Revolutionary Doula Training explores are welcome to do so. Our classes are affordable and accessible.

Are you someone who began your training with Beth through another organization? If you wish to continue your studies with her, please let her know. She will honour the classes you have already taken with her and use those credits towards your Revolutionary Doula Certificate. Financial adjustments can often be made in these circumstances.

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Here is a basic outline of workshops that students will be required to take. Full completion of these components must be made in order to achieve a Revolutionary Doula Certificate. If you have taken a class that may be similar to one offered here and wish to substitute it as one of your requirements, please contact Beth as this is occasionally possible.

Introductory Doula Training

A doula who plans to serve families during pregnancy, birth, and the immediate postpartum period should be proficient at:

  •  understanding the physiology of birth as well as the emotional and physical needs of the birthing individual
  •  facilitating discussion with the expecting parent and their partner(s) and family regarding plans for the birth and then engage in implementing them
  •  utilizing the skills and stamina needed to provide continuous care, emotional and physical support, and to provide objective, informed guidance
  • accessing information that can empower families to make informed choices regarding their pregnancy and birth experience

This 2 day workshop will provide you with the fundamental basics of the doula experience. Unlike other training programs where the sum total of your in-class experience is only your two day workshop, we will have the opportunity to learn about each other, to ask questions, to access various learning modalities, laugh and cry…all at a leisurely pace!

Bethy's Bengkung belly bind
How do doulas play? We get our Bengkung belly wraps on!

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Anatomy & Physiology of Birth For Doulas

For some of us, “Sex Ed” in high school was a little lack-lustre. We essentially walked away with the same amount of knowledge of that kid from the movie Kindergarten Cop: “Boys have a penis! Girls have a vagina!” While doulas don’t need to have the same level of understanding of anatomy as medical professionals (“the knee bone’s connected to the something…the something’s connected to this…other thing…”), they do need to know difference between innies, outies, flappy bits, dangly bits, and anything that winds up and squeaks. This work shop will also assist you in understanding the physiological processes that occur during an undisturbed birth, and how birth works all on its own, before we start messing around with it. Don’t let science scare you – this class will make you fall in love with the human body on a level you never thought possible!

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Breastfeeding For Doulas

For many of us, there is no vision more beautiful than a tender babe nursing at their mother’s breast. If we have breastfed our own babies, we may even find the odd glistening pearl of milk dribbling down our breasts as we recall those sweet times. A doula needs to have a solid grasp on how to assist their clients on establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship right from the moment of birth, and should be able to identify and resolve some basic troubles that act as stumbling blocks within the first few days of breast and chest feeding. Even if we have personally breastfed or even assisted others with breastfeeding in a range of capacities, it is imperative that a quality doula accesses educational opportunities from as many possible perspectives as possible.

French Peasant Woman Suckling Her Baby After Dalou, Van Gough
“French Peasant Woman Suckling Her Baby (after Dalou”)
– Vincent Van Gough, 1881

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Doula Research & Presentations

It is imperative that doulas know where to go in order to acquire scientifically accurate information in order to provide the appropriate data their clients need, but to also converse about topics in a concise and objective manner. This course supports students in researching and presenting on a topic of their choosing, in relation to pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding, etc. Each student will write an essay and conduct a presentation for an interactive audience of their peers.

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Doula Practicum

Each Revolutionary Doula Training student will be required to attend two births, with at least one birth being a vaginal delivery. Each student doula will submit assignments related to their practicum, including: charting, notes, and an essay providing critical analysis of the birth experience and the student’s self-reflections.

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Placenta Love

Grandmother Placenta has much to teach us – we can learn so much about a birth experience simply by examining the placenta. In this workshop, each student will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of a human placenta,while exploring the anatomy of the afterbirth. The cultural significance of placentae in various ethnic and faith communities, placentophagia, lotus births, placenta prints, and umbilical cord keepsakes will also be discussed.
*Do you have a placenta that you would like to donate to Revolutionary Doula Training? Any individual who donates their placenta takes this workshop FOR FREE (and still receives CEC)

placenta kyla

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How the Light Gets In: Doulas and Caesarean Sections
“There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended an ideal rate of around 15% for caesarean sections. As of 2011-2012 (studies are typically done every 4 years), Canada’s c-section rate was 18%. In Waterloo Region, 1 in 4 babies is born via c-section. 23% of the 4, 400 births that occur annually at Grand River Hospital are c-section deliveries, and 25% of the 1, 600 births at Cambridge Memorial Hospital annually are c-section deliveries…so, it is likely that you will attend multiple caesarean sections throughout your doula career. In this workshop, we will explore some of the reasons that our clients may require c-sections, the phenomena of “unnecesareans”, what actually happens during surgery, possible alternatives for c-sections, tips and tricks for assisting at both planned and unplanned c-sections, and how to assist clients postpartum after a surgical birth.

Image via WikiCommons

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Alphabet Soup: FAQ & 411 on VBAC

“Once a caesarean, always a caesarean” is no longer the case for many pregnant individuals here in Canada, however, navigating a medical system that does not always adhere to evidence-based practices and care providers who are reluctant to change archaic practices can be exhausting. VBAC families need extra support and advocacy. This workshop will assist you in identifying the specific needs of individuals anticipating a VBAC, strategies for working towards a VBAC birth, how to support a VBAC client during labour, what to do and say when VBAC is not possible, and learning about community resources that can empower you and your clients.

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People have been using water to soothe aches, pains, anxieties, chase away demons, and to cleanse themselves of impurities for all of history. Those of us who have experienced menstrual cramping know that a hot bath can be a blessing- it makes sense that someone realized that stepping into their tub during labour would be comforting. Once considered eccentric, waterbirth is now fairly mainstream with expectant families. What is a birth pool? Would buying one be a good investment for your doula business? How do you fill a birth pool…and how do you empty it? What temperature should the water be in the pool be? Why? How can you support a labouring individual in water? Is it true that waterborn babies are more calm than landborn babies? Is birthing your baby in water the same as birthing them into an excrement-filled toilet? What do the “experts” say about waterbirth? This workshop will answer all these questions and more.

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The Politics of Unassisted Birth

Unassisted birth is considered to be one of the firecracker topics of today’s birth culture. Dissatisfied with the corporate, oppressive nature of contemporary obstetrical practices, more people are considering birthing without a professional care provider. Unassisted births are not only for political firebrands, however: undocumented, impoverished, and other marginalized people can be forced into situations where unassisted births are their only option. Why do people birth alone? Is it illegal? What is our role as doulas when it comes to family births? Is attending unassisted births outside our scope of practice? Bring your popcorn to this one, Folks: this is going to be a lively conversation!

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Doulas & Reproductive Justice

For many doulas, access to abortion and a person’s autonomy in birth choices are two different topics. Revolutionary Doulas recognize that State interference with a person’s medical decisions – whether the right to birth at home with an attendant of their choosing or to terminate a pregnancy – undermines their human rights. What is the connection between abortion and birth? What role do doulas have in discussions about Choice? What is an abortion doula and how can they assist their community? How do you co-exist as a pro-choice doula in an anti-choice community? How can activists keep themselves safe? These can be difficult conversations to have, but they are an essential component to practicing as a well-rounded doula.

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Gender Diversity For Doulas

Did you know that gender exists on a spectrum – that there are more genders than male and female? What are the other genders? What does “transgender” mean? Does it have anything to do with being gay? What is “cisgender” mean? Is that a negative condition? What is the difference between “sex” and “gender”? How does a doula support a birthing person with a vagina who identifies as a male? There is a lot of confusing terminology and misleading information out there on the subject of gender diversity, and it can be difficult to ask questions without fear of appearing insensitive, unkind, or uninformed. This is a space where we can all ask a gender diversity expert our questions without fear of judgement…consider this “Everything You Wanted to Know About Gender” but were afraid to ask! This presentation will expand your consciousness and help you to be an ally to ALL of your clients.

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Doulas & Birth Trauma

We know that birth does not always unfold the way that our clients may have planned – in fact, sometimes things go terribly wrong for a variety of reasons, and this can have long-term consequences for the families in our care. In this workshop, we will define trauma, differentiate birth trauma from other forms of trauma, engage in case studies and role play, discuss how to doula in traumatic scenarios, investigate what resources are available to our clients on their healing journey, and explore the topics of vicarious trauma and self-care.

stock photo baby

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