Perinatal Support Specialist Training

Perinatal Support Specialist Training & Certification Program

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 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.
Doula Training Los Angeles, The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health,

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



Any person who is interested in supporting women during pregnancy, childbirth and early postpartum. No prior

Students practicing labor support – Perinatal Support Specialist Training, Los Angeles, 2018.

experience is needed. This course is a great starting point for people who are or want to become labor and delivery or maternity nurses, baby nurses and newborn nannies, midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, or public health professionals with an emphasis in Maternal-Child Health. The course will focus on addressing social determinants of health that lead to health inequities and disparities, especially in communities of color. Prior experience and/or training as a doula is an asset but is not required.


6-day training. Meets 8 hours per day. Hours are 8:30 am to 5:30 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.


  • Introduction and Overview of Perinatal Support
  • History of Breastfeeding in America
  • Cultural Awareness
  • 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

    Students practicing newborn care- Los Angeles. 2014.

  • Human Rights in Childbirth
  • The Social Determinants of Health
  • The Lifecourse Model
  • 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
  • Perinatal Loss
  • Working with Sexual Abuse Survivors
  • Ethics for Perinatal Support Specialists
  • Perinatal Nutrition
  • Pre and Intraconception Health
  • Putting it All Together: Skill Development Lab
  • Certification Exam
  • Closing Circle


The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health Midwife Assistant Training

Students practicing palpation skills in training – Los Angeles, 2011.

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 certification program. The Certification requirements are as follows:

  1. Attendance at the training every day for the full time; pass skill demonstrations exams given in class.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Develop a community resources list for clients.


Early Bird: $525
Regular: $625
Group Rate (4-10 persons): $300 per person.

Dates and Location of Next Course

The 2019 course will be offered in collaboration with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation at: Mercado la Paloma, 3655 S Grand Ave S, Los Angeles, CA 90007 in Downtown Los Angeles.

Next Course: Spring/Summer, 2019. We meet three times per week: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for two weeks.


In collaboration with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, 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, including perinatal health (which is this course).

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 community is important.

How to Apply for Scholarship

Email Norma Benitez, Director of Programs at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation for application beginning December, 2018.

Community Partner & Program Overview: Esperanza Community Housing Corporation
Since 2015, The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health has joined with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation to deliver a perinatal health promoter training.

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.

Internship Opportunity

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.


Cordelia Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA – Lead Instructor


Cordelia Hanna is the Program Director of our Health Net Community Doula Program.  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 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 has taught the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor training since 2002 which she co-developed for Pasadena Public Health Department 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 a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and volunteer Doula program for the health department for ten years. Cordelia is passionate about promoting midwives, doulas, promatoras (community health promoters) and breastfeeding peer counselors 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 girls.


Dr. Sayida Peprah, Psy.D., CD – Co-Course Leader


Dr. Sayida Peprah is a Doula Supervisor for our Health Net Doula Program and a course leader for our trainings, teaching Perinatal Psychology and Cultural Awareness.

Dr. Peprah has a Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, with a Multicultural Clinical-Community Emphasis, from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. She is also a Certified Doula with Doulas of North America and offers services through Conscious Surrender Birthing.

Dr. Peprah completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and Religion at Spelman College. Dr. Peprah’s background, both academically and in the field, afford her unique competence in instructing courses, counseling and consulting, from a multicultural perspective. Dr. Peprah has a strong belief and background in cultural competence and, in effort to expand this, has participated in numerous international, cultural immersion studies. Previously, she has traveled to Ghana, Mexico, Egypt and India, studying mental health approaches, indigenous culture and local spiritual traditions.

Professionally, Dr. Peprah is both an Educator, Clinician and Consultant. As a clinician, she has worked with a diverse client population and in a variety of clinical settings. She has worked for several community mental health agencies and custody services, providing child, family and adult therapy, and for 2 private psychiatric hospitals, providing psychological services for pediatrics, teens and adults with acute mental health and behavioral disorders.

As an educator, Dr. Peprah has taught for over 5 years, at the graduate and undergraduate level. Currently, she is a Professor of Psychology for the University of Phoenix and previously at The College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ;  and at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, CA; and  West Coast University, in Los Angeles, CA. Additionally, Dr. Peprah has guest-lectured at numerous colleges and presented at numerous conferences, on topics of clinical considerations for working with special ethnic populations including Native Americans, African Americans and Muslim Americans, Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, and Birthing Justice.

As often as possible, Dr. Peprah offers cultural competency, mental health and maternal/family health and wellness trainings and workshops to the community.

Dr. Peprah served on Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health’s Board of Directors, and currently serves on our Advisory Committee. As well, Dr. Peprah  co-leads our professional trainings on topics of cultural awareness, cross-cultural communication, and perinatal psychology. Sayida is a Birth Doula, who has worked with women of diverse backgrounds.

Overall, Dr. Peprah is dedicated to contributing her academic, professional and personal expertise, both in the field, as a clinician, and as an educator and consultant in academic, non-profit, government and corporate sectors.

Sayida is married and is the mother of two young daughters, both naturally with midwives, one in the hospital and one at home in a birth pool. For more information about Sayida, visit her website.

Khefri Riley, CPYT, CD, CLEC, CHBD, Co-Instructor


Khefri Riley  is a  Doula Supervisor with our Health Net Community Doula Program. She is also a course leader for our trainings, teaching labor support skills and prenatal yoga.

Khefri Riley is a Childbirth and Prenatal Yoga Specialist. She brings over 16 years experience as a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Newborn Care and Childbirth Educator and Hypnobabies “Hypno-doula”.Khefri’s foray into the world of babies and families has it’s inspiration from her paternal great-grandmother, an indigenous granny midwife from the deep south. In addition to being a mother to 17 year old son Zen, Khefri has her Pre-Natal Yoga Certification from Golden Bridge Yoga, is a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor from UC San Diego, Certified Itsy Bitsy Yoga Facilitator, Certified Yoga Ed. Instructor, trained miniyogis teacher, trained Hypnobabies Hypno-doula and trained Doula with D.O.N.A (Doulas of North America). Khefri has attended over 300 births and has taught thousands of mothers, father, and babies the joys of new motherhood and yoga.

Khefri has worked internationally in the development of multi-cultural award winning cultural events, interactive content and educational programming. As a facilitator of parenting, yoga and arts based curriculums for kids, teens, and at-risk youth, she has touched the lives of thousands of children. In turn she has found that it is the children that keep safe human kind’s greatest values. She has delivered kids yoga, childbirth and mindfulness based public health workshops for the Los Angeles Unified School District, Kaiser-Permanente Hospital, Birthing People Foundation and The Fresno Department of Mental Health. Her classes have been featured in People Magazine, NBC & Fox Ch. 11 News. Her poetry has been published in many anthologies, notably the Woman’s Press & Blackwater Review. She is passionate about preserving the art of the intuitive wise woman through everyday experiences. Sharing her multi-disciplinary knowledge with others, she leads large group trainings for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and educators. She is Founder of, and Urban Goddess Lifestyle in addition to being Postpartum Director and Birth Partner Doula of Los Angeles Birth Partners.


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.