Perinatal Support Specialist Advanced Doula Training and Certification

Perinatal Support Specialist Advanced Doula Training & Certification Program





Send Email to Carla Michael, Coordinator of Community and Professional Education

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 partnerships for organizations that want to establish a Community-Based Doula Program for Medi-Cal recipients. 

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



This course was co-developed by perinatal professionals 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 month 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. We have conducted this training since 2011 for public health departments, universities and non-profit organizations and have graduated over 250 people from our training. This course is based on a biopsychosocial framework. The biopsychosocial approach “systematically considers biological,psychological, and social factors and their complex interactions in understanding health, illness, and health care delivery”. (Engel, 1977).


This course is an advanced course for persons already working as Doulas, Lactation Educators, Childbirth Educators, Foreign-Trained Midwives, Etc. The basics of perinatal health education will be reviewed, but not in-depth. The participant should have certification in two or more areas of perinatal health prior to the course start. We will focus on giving birth workers a deeper understanding of the underlying issues contributing to poor birth outcomes for women, persons and their infants. The projects in the class will include developing skills for research, planning, and community health education and promotion strategies. The course final project is a group community perinatal health promotion project.


Anyone who works with pregnant women and childbearing persons and infants is welcome.  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
  • Prenatal or Postpartum Home Visitors
  • Pre-Natal Case Managers
  • Birth Doulas & Postpartum Doulas
  • Childbirth Educators
  • Health Educators
  • Breastfeeding Peer Counselors or Lactation Educators
  • RNs and LVNs
  • Foreign-Trained Midwives
  • Pre or Post-Natal Yoga Instructors
  • Medical Assistants &  Nursing Assistants
  • Student Midwives or Midwife Assistants
  • Public Health Students with an emphasis in Maternal-Child Health.
  • Undergraduate or graduate students majoring in child development, social work, pre-medicine, health education, psychology, nursing, anthropology, women’s studies, sociology who hold extra training or experience in perinatal arts and sciences.

All persons are welcome regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or ethnicity.  We can provide instruction in Spanish for Spanish speakers, but the ability to understand, read, speak and write in English is required. Materials are provided in English, or Spanish upon request. Some college experience at minimum is needed for success in the course.


Participants should have basic training and/or experience providing doula support and/or perinatal health education or lactation support. This class is an advanced course geared at professionals already working with the maternal-infant health population such as Doulas, Case Managers, Home Visitors, Midwifery Students and Assistants, Nurses, etc.. Participants should have worked with a minimum of three mother-infant pairs providing perinatal health education, labor doula support, postpartum doula support or lactation support prior to the start of class.

Two or more of  following courses  and certifications should be completed prior to the course:

The training and certification can be from any organization including Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health,  Happy Mama Healthy Baby Alliance, DONA, ICEA, Lamaze,  Le Leche League, WIC, CAPPA, ToBirth,  ICTC Full Circle Doula Training, Birthing People Foundation, BINI Birth or others.


This training is offered in a hybrid format with self-study modules and online learning on Zoom Meeting,  and in-person classroom instruction in Los Angeles, California. The course takes place over a period of 6 months. We meet once per month  for instruction either on Zoom or in-person. Some study modules will be pre-recorded.  Concurrently, students will gain experience in the community by working with actual clients.  Between sessions, there will be self-study modules and self quizzes to complete and a comprehensive certification exam at the end of the course, which is an open-book, take home exam.


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, 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 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 training, 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 a 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
  • Halfron and Lu’s  Lifecourse Model
  • Engel’s Biopsychosocial Model
  • 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
  • Postpartum Doula Care
  • Intraconception and Preconception Health
  • Cultural Awareness, and Cross-Cultural Communication  and Counseling Skills including:
  • The Three Step Strategy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Transtheoretical Model of Health Behavior Change

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, LGBTQIA+, 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 Happy Mama Healthy Baby Alliance.


The Perinatal Support Specialist:

  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 LGBTQ birthing persons and applies strategies to ameliorate stress related to these experiences.
  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.


  • Introduction and Overview of Perinatal Support
  • History of Reproductive Rights in America with emphasis on injustices inflicted against BIPOC (Black, Indegenous, and other people of color).
  • Impact of Historical Trauma Racism on African-American women’s birth experiences

    Instructor Cordelia Hanna teaching childbirth education

  • Cultural Awareness: Working within and outside of our ethnic communities
  • Working with LBGTQ communities
  • Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Communication and Counseling Skills: The Three Step Strategy
  • Motivational Interviewing & Stages of Change Model
  • Attachment and Bonding on Children’s Health Trajectories
  • Perinatal Health Inequities and Disparities
  • Human Rights in Childbirth
  • The Biopsychosocial Model
  • The Social Determinants of Health
  • The Lifecourse Model
  • Review: the Birth Process: Anatomy & Physiology of Parturition
  • Review: Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Pain Management: Labor Coping Skills and Support Methods
  • Experiential Learning Exercise with Pregnant Models (Palpation & FHTs)
  • Review: Medical Interventions (induction, augmentation, fetal monitoring, etc.)
  • Review: Pain Medication Options
  • Review: Cesarean Prevention and VBAC
  • Childbirth Improvement Initiatives and Recommendations
  • Review: Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
  • Supporting Mothers through Perinatal Loss
  • Working with Sexual Abuse Survivors
  • Ethics for Perinatal Support Specialists/Community Doulas
  • Pre and Intraconception Health


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 in-person every day for the full time
  2. Pass skill demonstrations practicums given in class
  3. Completion of all course assignments including module summaries and papers
  4. Plan, execute and evaluate a community maternal-child health promotion event at session #6
  5. Take Part One Certification Exam*
  6. Take Part Two Certification Exam*
  7. Turn in 3 client evaluations of services provided
  8. Turn in 3 self-reports on care given to mothers
  9. Work with Three Mother-Baby Dyads. Participants will work with three mother/baby pairs providing childbirth education, labor and birth support and postpartum care for mother and newborn. Will submit 3 self-evaluations and 3 client-evaluations and return them to us.

*These are take-home, open-book written exams. Participants may use the student manual, the PowerPoint, and any films shown in class to find the answers. The exam format is true/false, matching and short answer. 80% is required to pass. The score will be Pass/Fail. If the participant does not pass the first time, a second try is allowed. (Exams can be provided in Spanish upon advanced request).


This is a 32-hour hybrid training, which takes place over 6 months. We will meet as a cohort once per month for 6 months.  Hands-on practical experience will be obtained in the local community with actual mothers and babies, obtained over a 6-month period. Total length if the course is 6 months.  Self-directed study modules and self-quizzes done outside of group instruction sessions.   Classroom group sessions will meet on Zoom Meeting once per month for 6 months, while social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19 are in effect. There will also be in-person sessions located in Los Angeles, California once the social distancing requirements are lifted. 


Deposit: $100.00 due at registration to reserve seat in course. Payment plans are available. Contact us to make payment arrangements. 

Early Bird Tuition: $725.00  (Due 3 months prior to course; payment in full is required).

Regular Individual Tuition: $825.00 (payment plans are available). 

Group Discount Rate: $625.00 per person. Discounts for 4 or more persons registering together, such as staff from one agency, or 4 friends registering together. Invoicing is available for companies, universities, non-profit organizations, hospitals, etc.

Payment Plans: $100.00 deposit required. Contact to arrange payment plan.

Agency In-Service Rate: This course can be brought to your worksite or hosted on Zoom as a company in-service training for employees. Global fee includes materials and up to 15 persons may attend for this price. Contact us at  for more information.

Scholarships: Two half scholarships ($325.00) are available for low-income persons of color. Contact us for more information.


2022 Courses

Dates of Course:

Fall/Winter, 2023 (exact dates TBD)

Time of Course: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm daily. Half-hour lunch break and two 15-minute breaks morning and afternoon.

Location: Online on Zoom and in-person sessions in Los Angeles, CA at a location TBA


 We provide two half-scholarships per course for low-income Black, Indigenous or Other Person of Color (BIOPC). Contact us for an application. or call (626) 388-2191 ext. 1.


Happy Mama Healthy Baby Alliance (HMHBA) 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 an internship 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, HMHBA’s Perinatal Support Specialists are connected with expecting mothers in need of education and support. In recent years, HMHBA 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 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  and LGBTQIA+ persons are encouraged to apply as these are the populations we serve.


Geraldine Perry-Williams, RN, MSN, ASRN, PHN, LCCE, CLE – Curriculum Developer and Co-Course Leader (Emeritus)

Geraldine Perry-Williams, PHN, MSN

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 helped to develop this course. “Mama Gerri” passed away in June, 2018, but her spirit lives on in this course. Geraldine  received her Masters in Nursing in Nursing Education from The University of Phoenix. Geraldine 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 instructF for over 10 years until her passing in 2018.



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



Cordelia Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA

Cordelia Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA, 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. Cordelia is currently pursuing a doctorate in Health Psychology from Walden University. 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 and a grandson born in August 2020.

Carla Michael, MSW, CD, CPD, CLE, Student Midwife – Co-Course Leader

Carla Michael was born Hollywood and raised in Pomona, CA. As a mother to three girls, Carla is well aware of the necessity of love and care during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period.

 Her passionate desire to work with children and families led me to a career as a social worker and to obtain a master’s in social work at California State University Los Angeles. Craving a more personable relationship with families while exploring “birthing and babies”,  she decided to take a different route and become a full circle doula.
Carla obtained full circle doula training with Shafia Monroe Consulting’s Full Circle Doula Training® (an intensive 30-hour prenatal, labor and postpartum doula training course). This distinctive training is built on the legacy of the 20th century African American Midwife, who provided holistic perinatal services with birth and postpartum rituals and mothering skills building confidence and leadership abilities within families to improve birth outcomes and increase breastfeeding duration rates.
Carla models this model of care in her practice as a doula, which is improving birth outcomes by reducing prematurity, increasing breastfeeding rates and duration, reducing infant mortality and she has also completed an extensive 14-hour training regarding perinatal mental health and is well versed on the seldom-discussed mental health needs of mamas after birth.

With Carla’s first baby, she had no support with breastfeeding and always wanted to work for an organization such as La Leche League, not knowing that a career in breastfeeding was actually attainable. Therefore, in addition to her work as a doula, I received my certified lactation education specialist training through Breastfeed LA’s 95-hour program and is now currently on the pathway to becoming an IBCLC (international board-certified lactation consultant). This is critical because there are no statistics on how many Black IBCLCs there are in the United States. Carla believes that increasing the amount of Black IBCLC support will increase the rates of Black women’s breastfeeding outcomes, which is so crucial to their bundle of joy’s overall health in life. She enjoys instructing breastfeeding classes to pregnant mamas to prepare them before even before their little babies enters the world, and currently teaches Happy Mama Healthy Baby’s breastfeeding education classes for clients, and our Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training, Postpartum Doula Training, Perinatal Support Specialist Training and Birth Doula Training.
She is also currently a student midwife working in a birth center.  Carla believes in women-led births and that, with the proper support, education, and by listening to her intuition, a mama can have the birthing experience she’s always dreamed of. Carla is always honored to support a mama in this memorable, life-changing journey and looks forward to sharing her wisdom and experience with you in this training.


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


Augie Rigual, CD, IBCLC, LCCE

Augie Rigual, CD, IBCLC, LCCE 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.



Contact Carla Michael, Coordinator of Community and Professional Education

Call: (626) 388-2191 ext. 1 or Email:

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation must be made in writing by deadline (30 days prior to start of course). 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 and Midwives:

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.