Perinatal Support Specialist Training and Certification

Perinatal Support Specialist Training & Certification Program

A Community-Based Doula and Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training

Los Angeles, California

Work for Birthing Justice. Gain Skills in Lactation Support and Childbirth Doula and Postpartum Doula Support to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged women and infants. Upon graduation, you will be eligible to receive an internship to work in our Community-Based Doula Program.  We also offer partnership for organizations who want to establish  a Community-Based Doula Program for Medi-Cal recipients.

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Audience | Format | Certification | Dates & Location | Partner & Program | Course Overview | Instructors | Contact Us


Upcoming Trainings:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday, November 11th, 13th, 15th and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, November 19th, 20th and 22nd, 2019


June,  2020 – In collaboration with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation (Scholarships Available)


This course was co-developed by African-American/Black and Caucasian/White curriculum developers  and is team taught by a multicultural team of experts in maternal and child health, to address perinatal inequities and disparities–such as maternal and infant mortality–occurring in immigrant and African-American/Black, Native-American and Latino communities. Using theories such as The Lifecourse Model, Socioecological Model and Trauma-Informed care, the  6 -Day training covers a wide range of subjects including the impact of historical racism and trauma on birth outcomes, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, breastfeeding,  childbirth and postpartum Doula support, and cultural awareness, including implicit bias training for birth workers.


Anyone who wants to work with pregnant women and childbearing persons and infants of color is welcome. No prior experience is needed. We encourage African-American/Black, Latino, Asian and Native-American persons to participate, since this is the population served. The class will be of interest to Doulas, Childbirth Educators, Nurses, Medical Assistants, Nursing Assistants, Nannies, Aspiring Midwives or Public Health Students with emphasis in Maternal-Child Health. Students majoring in child development, social work, pre-medicine, health education, psychology, nursing, anthropology, women’s studies, sociology or political science may also benefit from this course.  All persons are welcome regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, age or ethnicity. Instruction is conducted in Spanish and English, so basic proficiency in each language (or desire to improve in either language) is recommended.  There will be a simultaneous instruction in Spanish for Spanish speakers, but ability to understand, read, speak and write in English  and Spanish is recommended.


6-day training. Meets 8 hours per day. Hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm each day with 1-hour lunch and two 15-minute breaks, morning and afternoon. Lecture, discussion, role play, skill demonstration, experiential exercises and videos enhance the learner’s understanding.


Is this a Doula, Lactation Counselor, Childbirth Educator or Midwife Certification?

No. While this course offers Doula skills such as labor support,  lactation skills to support breastfeeding and childbirth educator skills to teach couples how to prepare for birth, we do not offer certification as a Doula, Lactation Counselor, Childbirth Educator or Midwife. At the completion of this course, participants may wish to complete the requirements to become a Certified Perinatal Support Specialist (CPSS). Participants who desire certification as a Doula or Lactation Educator, Childbirth Educator or Midwife may seek these certifications before taking or after taking the course. This course is a great starting point for anyone who has career ambitions in these professions, or wishes to expand their knowledge.

What is the difference between this training and a Doula training?

Unlike conventional Doula trainings, this course trains participants to work as Community Health Promoters and Community-Based

Doulas to reduce perinatal health disparities occurring in communities of color. The emphasis is on addressing health inequities and the impact of racism and discrimination on birth outcomes for African-American/Black, Latino and Asian populations. Participants will receive information on public health perspectives on maternal and child health, and learn how to promote health and well-being in  minority communities, to improve the health of  mothers and babies. Our curriculum developers and team of trainers are of multi-cultural and bring experience from various disciplines such as nursing, psychology, public health, childbirth education and Doula support.

This course encompasses a lot more than what is offered in a standard Doula course. Topics include: 

  • Public Health Perspectives on Maternal-Child Health
  • The Impact of Historical Injustices on the Reproductive Health of Women of Color
  • Attachment Theory and Child Development in the first year
  • Childbirth Education
  • Perinatal Nutrition
  • Perinatal Psychology
  • Breastfeeding Counseling
  • Labor Support Methods
  • Postpartum Doula Care
  • Intraconception and Preconception Health
  • Cultural Awareness, and Cross-Cultural Communication  and Counseling

What is the Difference Between a Perinatal Support Specialist and a Doula?

Perinatal Support Specialists have a broader focus than Conventional Doulas. Perinatal Support Specialists work with disadvantaged and ethnic communities experiencing poor health outcomes among their mothers and babies due to prejudice and racism. Perinatal Support Specialists are members of ethnic communities and have language proficiency and thus, have cultural competency to work in these communities. Special groups that may be served are African-American, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, incarcerated, domestic violence victims, refugees, immigrants, foster teens, low-income, etc.

Is Certification Offered?

Yes, at the completion of the course, participants may choose to complete the certification requirements to become a Certified Perinatal Support Specialist (CPSS),  by The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health.


  1. Utilizes communication and counseling skills when working with clients.
  2. Understands the impact of historical injustices, racism, micro-stressors and discrimination on maternal and infant health among women and infants of color, and applies strategies to ameliorate stress related to these experiences for pregnant women  and new mothers of color.
  3. Instills confidence in clients for giving birth, breastfeeding and caring for their newborns.
  4. Promotes informed choices in childbirth based on knowledge of all options, advantages and disadvantages of medical interventions.
  5. Addresses barriers to breastfeeding.
  6. Demonstrates skills to help women breastfeed.
  7. Describes solutions to common problems of breastfeeding which new mothers encounter.
  8. Demonstrates cultural awareness when working with clients of diverse backgrounds.
  9. Understands developmental milestones of the first year of a child’s life.
  10. Understands the impact of attachment and early adverse childhood experiences on human development.
  11. Promotes healthy lifestyles for women before and between pregnancies.
  12. Provides non-medical care of full-term and premature newborns and identifies when there is a need for referral to medical professionals.
  13. Discusses impact of perinatal loss on families and demonstrates sensitivity when working with families after a loss.
  14. Describes ways to involve father/partner in care of newborn and postpartum woman.
  15. Understands developmental milestones of the first year of a child’s life.
  16. Understands the impact of attachment and early adverse childhood experiences on human development.
  17. Promotes healthy lifestyles for women before and between pregnancies.
  18. Provides non-medical care of full-term and premature newborns and identifies when there is a need for referral to medical professionals.
  19. Discusses impact of perinatal loss on families and demonstrates sensitivity when working with families after a loss.
  20. Describes ways to involve father/partner in care of newborn and postpartum woman.
  21. Describes ways to reduce parenting stress.
  22. Identifies signs of child abuse and neglect and appropriate referral mechanisms.
  23. Discusses the doula’s role in helping clients become a family.
  24. Describes family planning methods and helps clients choose an appropriate method of birth control.


  • Introduction and Overview of Perinatal Support
  • History of Reproductive Rights in America with emphasis on injustices inflicted against African-American, Latino and Native-American women
  • Impact of Historical Trauma Racism on African-American women’s birth experiences
  • Cultural Awareness: Working within and outside of our ethnic communities
  • Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Communication and Counseling Skills: The Three Step Strategy
  • Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding
  • Anatomy & Physiology of Lactation
  • Nutritional Composition of Breastmilk
  • Helping Mothers Get Started
  • Dealing with Common Problems
  • Child Development in the First Year
  • Attachment Parenting
  • Breastfeeding in Special Situations: Preemies, Adoptive Nursing, Twins, HIV & AIDS, Tandem Nursing, etc.
  • Metabolic Disorders of the Newborn & Breastfeeding
  • Impact of Obstetrical Interventions on Breastfeeding
  • Lessons from the Field
  • Herstory of Childbirth in America
  • Perinatal Health Inequities and Disparities
  • Human Rights in Childbirth
  • The Social Determinants of Health
  • The Lifecourse Model for Explaining Persistent African-American Perinatal Health  Dipartites
  • Understanding the Birth Process: Anatomy & Physiology of Partuition
  • Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Pain Management
  • Labor Coping Skills and Labor Support Methods
  • Experiential Learning Exercise with Pregnant Models
  • Medical Interventions (induction, augmentation, fetal monitoring, etc.)
  • Pain Medication Options
  • Cesarean Prevention and VBAC
  • The Birth Plan
  • Childbirth Improvement Initiatives and Recommendations
  • Postpartum Care of Mothers: Emotional and Physical
  • Care of the Newborn
  • Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, with emphasis on women of color
  • Perinatal Loss
  • Working with Sexual Abuse Survivors
  • Ethics for Perinatal Support Specialists/Community Doulas
  • Perinatal Nutrition
  • Pre and Intraconception Health
  • Putting it All Together: Skill Development Lab
  • Certification Exam
  • Closing Circle


Upon completing these course requirements, the attendee will obtain certification as a Perinatal Support Specialist. This is not a Doula, childbirth education, midwifery or lactation educator certification program. Persons who desire these certifications may complete these through other organizations such as DONA, CAPPA, ICEA, Lamaze,  before or after this course.  .

The Certification requirements are as follows:

  1. Attendance at the training every day for the full time
  2. Pass skill demonstration exams given in class
  3. Completion of Part I and Part II written, take-home exams. The exams are open book and are multiple choice, short answer, matching and True and False. The exam is optional and is to be completed within 12 months of the end of the course. Option to take exam in Spanish is offered.
  4. Attendance at 3 births, providing 3 breastfeeding consultations and conducting childbirth education for 3 mothers within 1 year of the end of the course. Candidates for certification must turn in evaluations and self-reports about the care they provided.
  5. Develop a community resources list for clients.


Classes meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (8 hours each day) with one-hour lunch and two 15-minute breaks daily. There are six sessions, which meet over a 2-week period.


Deposit: $100.00 due at registration to reserve seat in course

Early Bird Tuition: $525.00 due 3 months prior to course

Regular Individual Tuition: $625.00. Due 2 weeks prior to course. Payment plans are available. Contact us to make payment arrangements.

Group Discount Rate: $425.00 per person. Discounts for 4 or more persons registering together.

Agency In-Service Rate: This course can be brought to your worksite as an In-Service for employees. Global fee includes materials and up to 15 persons may attend for this price. Offered at agency’s location or can be hosted at our Downtown Los Angeles office. Contact us for more information and to schedule.

Scholarships:  Limited partial scholarships are available for persons of color who are low-income. Contact us for more information.


2019 Courses

Dates of Course: Monday, November 11, Wednesday, November 13, and Friday, November 15 and

Tuesday, November 19, Wednesday, November 20 and Friday, November 22, 2019.

Time: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.

Location: 3655 S. Grand Ave., Suite 260, Los Angeles, CA 90007

2020 Courses

Dates of Course: June 2020, offered in collaboration with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation

Location: 3655 S. Grand Ave., Suite 260, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Scholarships for persons of color are offered. In collaboration with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, once per year, we will conduct this course as part of their 6-month Community Health Promoter Training Program/Promatora de Salud Communitaria. Participants will receive training in leadership, health education and promotion. Topics include Family Planning, Environmental Health, Children’s Health, Physical Activity and Nutrition, and  Perinatal Education and Support.

Esperanza will select participants by application and interview. If selected, candidates will receive a full scholarship to participate in the course, and an opportunity to obtain a 360-hour post-course internship with us to hone your skills in perinatal health promotion and education and maternal-infant support.

Please note: the course will be offered in Spanish and English. Bi-lingual skills are necessary, or willingness to improve skill in either language is a requirement and a desire to serve and support the South Los Angeles Hispanic and African-American communities is important. There will be classes simultaneously conducted in Spanish and English. Ability to understand, read and write at a basic level in both languages is required.

To Apply: Email Gabriela Gonzales,  Director of Programs at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation for application beginning October 1, 2019.


Since 2015, The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health has joined with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation to deliver a perinatal health promoter training to help train participants to be community doulas and breastfeeding peer counselors working in communities of color in South Los Angeles.

Founded in 1989 to address the lack of quality affordable housing in South Los Angeles, Esperanza Community Housing Corporation has since grown into a multi-faceted recognized social justice organization engaged in comprehensive community development through five core program areas: housing, health, arts and culture, economic development, and environmental justice.

In 1996, Esperanza launched what is now their nationally-recognized Community Health Promoter (Promotores)Training Program, developing a cadre of South Los Angeles residents in a wide breadth of health advocacy skills to act as health ambassadors in their own neighborhoods. The training model partners with field experts and utilizes a popular education peer-to-peer teach-back style to train bi-lingual leaders in more than 50 health topics and community issues over a six month period.

In the two decades that Esperanza has been operating their promotores training program, they have graduated 462 community leaders who have been able to achieve significant improvements in community health outcomes through their ability to identify and communicate with local residents. Because they are from the community and share similar lived experiences, promotores have built a strong track record of reaching historically hard-to-reach neighborhoods and homes, successfully promoting a broad culture of health throughout South Los Angeles. To this end, Esperanza has begun working with the Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health (AWMNH) to integrate perinatal education and support training in their existing promotores training program. Formed in 1993, AWMNH has been conducting perinatal support specialist, breastfeeding peer counselor and postpartum doula trainings and certification programs for community residents throughout Los Angeles. Our trainings  give community women and men the skills and knowledge to support pregnant and parenting women and reduce health disparities among low-income women of color.


The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health offers Doula support for those who would otherwise not be able to afford quality, culturally appropriate maternity care. Graduates of the Perinatal Support Specialist Training will be able to receive a 6-month internship with AWMNH’s mentors to develop skills in perinatal education and support for pregnant women and newborns. Upon graduation of the training program and completion of a Certified Perinatal Support Specialist (CPPS) exam, AWMNH’s Perinatal Support Specialists are connected with expecting mothers in need of education and support. In recent years, AWMNH has witnessed an uptick in the number of pregnant mothers with Medi-Cal requesting Doula services, indicating a need to address this unique population more strategically. We have formed a partnership to provide expectant mothers with social support, mentorship from an experienced mother and skilled perinatal professional, childbirth education, professional labor companion/doula support and breastfeeding counseling and support. African-American/Black, Latino, Asian-American and Native-American persons are encouraged to apply as this is the population we serve.


Shafia M. Monroe, MPH, DEM – Course Leader

Shafia M. Monroe is a renowned midwife, a doula trainer, motivational speaker and a cultural competency trainer. Shafia has been “Birthing CHANGE,” all her life, and is a change agent. In 2012, Madame Noir, noted her “Queen Mother of a Midwife Movement,” because of her 1976 pioneer midwifery work in Boston, Massachusetts, her hometown. There she co-founded the Traditional Childbearing Group (TCBG) in 1978, a non-profit created to reduce the high infant mortality rate, in Black communities.

In 1991, she moved to Portland, Oregon and at seven months pregnant, was unable to find a midwife of color to assist her in a home birth. Realizing the lack of diversity in the midwifery, doula and birth worker profession, Shafia founded the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), a non-profit, to increase the number of midwives and doulas of color, to empower families, and to reduce infant and maternal mortality. Under Shafia’s leadership as CEO, ICTC created and sponsored the annual International Black Midwives and Healers Conference, bringing midwives together from around the world to find solutions to the health disparities

In 2002, she created the ICTC Full Circle Doula Training program to train people in the legacy of the African American midwife, to renew traditions for better birth outcomes, community and to create the tapestry of diversity within the birth workers profession. This groundbreaking training program continues to serve as an international model for reducing infant mortality and increasing the number of midwives and doulas of color. Seeing economic injustice for low-income women, Shafia created and spearheaded the first legislative concept, Oregon HB 3311, to investigate the use of doulas to improve birth outcomes in vulnerable populations. Her work marked Oregon as the national model for Medicaid reimbursement for doulas and ICTC as the first Oregon Health Authority (OHA) approved doula-credentialing organization.

Shafia holds a BA in sociology and Masters of Public Health, and has been certified as a midwife in by the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance, practicing as a home birth midwife since 1978.

In 2014, she formed Shafia Monroe Consulting (SMC), to aid health care professional to achieve cultural competency, increase clients, and improve birth outcomes; and became the owner of Doula Ready LLC, a company that provide services to reduce perinatal stress for professional women, and reduce premature labor and improve birth outcomes.

Shafia’s groundbreaking work is recognized with numerous awards.

Geraldine Perry-Williams, RN, MSN, ASRN, PHN, LCCE, CLE – Curriculum Developer

Geraldine Perry-Williams, PHN, MSN

This course was co-developed, along with Cordelia Hanna, by the late Geraldine Perry-Williams, RN, ASRN, BSN, PHN, MSN,  a public health nurse who worked  as the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Director and Black Infant Health Program Coordinator for the City of Pasadena Public Health Department for 30 years. “Mama Gerri” passed away in June, 2018. She  received her Masters in Nursing in Nursing Education from The University of Phoenix. Gerri worked in the field of maternal child health for over 30 years in various capacities working in the hospital postpartum unit, NICU and high risk and in public health for 25 years. Geraldine was active with CityMatCH, an organization of Maternal-Child Health Directors dedicated to improving maternal-child health in urban centers in the USA. Geraldine was a Birth Assistant/Doula, a La Leche League Trained Breastfeeding Counselor Trainer, a Lamaze Pregnancy and Childbirth Health Educator, State Certified Outreach Worker Trainer, S.I.D.S. Trainer and CPR Instructor and Black Infant Health Program Worker Trainings. She  presented on numerous health topics and workshops throughout the community. Geraldine developed and implemented numerous programs for the community. She volunteered in a variety of activities to promote public health including Public Health Week, community health workshops, and facilitating workshops on Trauma Informed Care, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Black women’s health conferences, organizing health fairs and community baby showers in the community of Pasadena, Ca.  She was  married and  active in church activities, and leaves behind  four adult children and three grandchildren, all born healthy to healthy moms. Geraldine’s joyous spirit and wisdom lives on through this course, which she had the pleasure to develop and instruct  for over 10 years until her passing in 2018.


Ines (Augie) Rigual, CD (DONA), IBCLC, LCCE – Course Leader (Spanish)

Augie Rigual teaches our course in Spanish. She is an Advanced DONA Doula and has been certified with DONA International for 15 years, having also worked in the Certification Committee for DONA International. She implemented and supervised a community doula program in Osceola County, Florida, for six years through a grant from the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, having achieved the goal of reducing the C-section rate 14% during the first two years in two hospitals in the county. Through this community doula program, they provided childbirth education and doula services to the inmates at the Osceola County Jail.

Became a Birth Doula Trainer in 2013 and have been offering trainings mostly in Puerto Rico, where two of the hospitals have already trained most of their Labor & Delivery nurses in an effort to reduce the hospital’s C-section rates. These hospital trainings have included doctors who have been educated on what a doula truly is and understand the work of the doula. She has trained in the Dominican Republic where an OB doctor became trained as is now a DONA Doula trainer for their country. Augie has been offering DONA Birth Doula trainings in Spanish in other states that have big Spanish communities like Utah and North Carolina.

As a Lamaze Childbirth Educator for the past 18 years, Augie offers the childbirth education classes in English and Spanish for two County Health Departments in Florida on a weekly basis.

In 2010 Augie became certified as an IBCLC and recertified in 2015. She established the CAFÉ Postpartum Group at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and this program carried through to the Osceola County Department of Health, where the group still meets every Wednesday morning. The CAFÉ offers not only breastfeeding support but postpartum support in general and has become the place where moms feel they can help other moms and feel good about themselves. CAFÉ stands for Compassion, Apoyo (Support), Faith, and Education. Augie is the Programs Specialist for the Healthy Start Coalition of Osceola County, Florida.

Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA – Curriculum Developer/ Principal Course Leader 



Hair & Make Up & Photo by Heidi Light (1heidi1light)

Cordelia Hanna MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA, is the Program Designer and Director of Operations of  the Health Net Community Doula Program  which provides support for African-American Families in Los Angeles, CA. Cordelia is the co-curriculum developer of this course and has taught this training since 2002 which she co-developed, with Geraldine Perry-Williams,  for Pasadena Public Health Department Black Infant Health Program in Pasadena, CA, where she worked from 2002-2012. The Black Infant Health Program is a California Department of Health-funded program to reduce African-American perinatal health disparities. Cordelia initiated and managed  the very first Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and volunteer community Doula program for African-American/Black families at the health department for ten years from 2002 to 2012.

Cordelia obtained her Masters in Public Health (MPH) in Health Education and Promotion/Maternal Child Health from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California in 2008 and her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1986. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), the gold standard for professional health educators, accredited by NCHEC. Cordelia is also an ICEA-Certified Childbirth Educator, CAPPA-Certified Lactation Educator, and ALACE-Certified Birth Assistant who since 1991 has taught Childbirth Preparation Classes and Breastfeeding Education to hundreds of couples from multi-cultural backgrounds in private practice, clinics, public health, hospital and community settings. She has attended births as a Primary Midwife Under Supervision, Assistant Midwife and Labor Companion/Monitrice in homes, birth centers and hospitals throughout Los Angeles County since 1991. Cordelia is passionate about promoting midwives, Doulas, community health promoters and breastfeeding peer counselors of color to address ethnic health disparities such as low rates of breastfeeding, high rates of prematurity and cesarean section, and to reduce maternal mortality globally. Cordelia is a mother of two home-born, breastfed and attachment-parented children who are now capable, bright young adults. Cordelia is also a grandmother to two young girls.




Debbie Benton, Coordinator of Community Education

Call: (626) 388-2191 ext. 2 or Email 

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy: Cancellation must be made in writing by deadline (TBA). Tuition will be reimbursed less $50.00 administrative fee if notification received by this date. After this date, there will be no refunds. However in extenuating circumstances such as documented illness or emergency, the tuition is fully transferable to another person or training (this course or another topic); credit is good for the amount of training. If course registering into is higher price, the additional balance will be required. If it is a lesser price, there will not be any refund of balance. Credit will be honored for one year from the training. If not used by that time, the credit will expire.

Special Cancellation Policy for Doulas: If you are “on call” and have a birth during the training, please notify instructor as soon as possible that you will not be attending. The full tuition will be transferred to another person, or different training (this course or another topic) to be used within one year of the training date. If the course you are registering into is higher price, the additional balance will be required. If it is a lesser price, there will not be any refund of balance.