ICEA Certified Birth Doulas are trained professionals who recognize birth as a key life experience. They attend and support the physical, emotional, and social needs of women in labor. In addition, they offer guidance and referrals to community resources regarding maternal self-care, lactation, and other issues pertinent to healthy parenting through the first six weeks postpartum.
Certification Overview & Curriculum
The ICEA Birth Doula Certification Program verifies that birth doulas have the necessary education and skills to enable them to facilitate expectant parents’ mental and physical preparation for pregnancy, labor, birth and parenthood. The program promotes the concept of the birth doula as an advocate of the natural process of childbirth and the right of the expectant parent to make informed decisions based on knowledge of alternatives. Following is the program curriculum:
Part I – Introducing the Doula
Part II – Meeting Your Clients
Part III – Labor: An Overview
Part IV – Labor: The Process
Part V – Comfort Measures, Coping Skills, and Pain Relief
Part VI – Family Integration
Part VII – Coping with the Unusual
Part VIII – Business Matters
The ICEA Certified Birth Doula is expected to further a wider understanding of ICEA’s mission and philosophy among health professionals and the public.
We offer two different pathways for certification as a birth doula:
TRADITIONAL – This pathway for certification is the right choice for you if:
- You have little or no experience as a birth doula.
- You are a layperson who is committed to helping childbearing families.
- You are a nurse or other birth professional who wants to expand your services.
EXPERIENCED – This pathway for certification is the right choice for you if:
- You are currently certified with another recognized birth doula organization and have been actively practicing for a minimum of two years.
- You have been certified as a birth doula within the last two years through ICEA or another recognized birth doula organization and actively practiced for a minimum of two years while certified, but your certification has expired within the last two years.
This certification program is available to any birth doula who upholds and practices ICEA’s philosophy of family-centered maternity care and freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in childbirth. This program does not exclude an otherwise qualified person for reason of educational or professional background. No qualified, presently certified birth doula will be excluded from entering the ICEA Birth Doula Certification Program.
The ICEA Birth Doula Certification examination is designed to test for a thorough knowledge of the basic content in childbirth. The examination is based solely on the objectives outlined in the eight parts of the ICEA birth doula curriculum.
The examination consists entirely of 100 multiple choice questions. There are no short answer or essay questions. The examination is “closed book” and must be proctored. Two hours is given to complete the examination. The score is based on the number of correct answers.
Candidates for whom English is a second language must contact the office as an examination may be available in their primary language. If an examination is not available in their primary language, then candidates may use a non-medical primary language/English dictionary and will be provided with three hours to complete the examination. The ICEA office must be notified, in writing, of these special needs at the time the certification examination application and fee are submitted.
Applying to Take the Examination
Candidates have up to two years, from the date in which they enrolled in the program, to complete the examination pre-requisites and apply for the examination. If more than two years pass without previously applying for and being granted an extension, candidates must re-enroll in the program and again complete all the pre-requisites. Examination applications will not be accepted unless they are complete. A complete application includes all needed forms and verifications, examination date, location and proctor, and full payment.
Applying for an Extension
An ICEA candidate may apply for a single 6-month extension of the exam application deadline in order to complete the requirements. The application for an extension and $75 extension fee must be received before the exam application deadline. To apply for the extension the Extension Request Form must be filled out and returned by email/fax/mail to the ICEA Certification Coordinator, along with the $75 extension fee, and a written request stating why the extension is needed. The ICEA Certification Coordinator will respond in writing via email that the extension has been granted. Each candidate is only able to apply for one extension.
Scheduling Your Examination
All examinations are given online but must be taken with a proctor in person at the testing location chosen by the candidate. Candidates may apply to take the examination in any state, province or country, and are not limited to taking the examination in their local geographic area. An examination can be scheduled by completing and submitting the ICEA Birth Doula Certification Examination Application. All examinations must be scheduled at least 30 days prior to the examination date. This includes any requested changes in scheduled examinations. The online link for the candidate’s exam will be emailed to the proctor in advance of the testing date.
Grading of the Examination
All ICEA certification examinations are taken online, therefore, candidates will immediately know their results upon completion. Each candidate who receives a passing score of 70% or above is considered to be an ICEA Certified Birth Doula, an ICD. ICEA will issue a formal certificate via email to those who have successfully completed the program. A three-year ICEA membership will be provided along with the certification.
In the event a candidate fails the exam, ICEA will send the candidate a new examination application via email to retake the test. These candidates will have up to one year in which to pass the examination. They may retake the examination as many times as necessary within one year of the first fail date, providing repeat guidelines are followed and ICEA membership is maintained. Examinations ruled invalid will be treated as failed examinations and the candidate will have one year to retake the examination per guidelines. Each subsequent exam will be charged a fee based on geographic location.
Upon successful completion of the ICEA Birth Doula Exam, a birth doula will be entitled to use ICD and the term “ICEA Certified Birth Doula” to designate certification status and to indicate that the birth doula is ICEA Certified.
ICEA is dedicated to maintaining a rigorous standard of excellence, and thus all ICEA certifications are only valid for three years. At the completion of the three years, all ICEA Certified Birth Doulas must apply for recertification.
ICEA believes that birth doulas are continually educating themselves and learning from their clients. Recertification validates commitment to the profession and ensures the continuation of receiving the benefits of ICEA affiliation. View recertification for more information. If an ICEA birth doula fails to recertify by their expiration date, they must follow our Expired Certification Policy to regain their certification.
ICEA reserves the right to change any part of the certification program or recertification process without notice. Notice of such changes will be sent in the newsletter, ICEA Connection.
For answers to all your certification questions, please visit our FAQ page.