Perinatal Support Specialist Doula Training and Certification

Perinatal Support Specialist Doula 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 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.


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.  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 Spanish and English. Ability to comprehend, communicate, and write in English at the level of U.S. 12th grade/college Freshman is recommended.


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 1 year. We meet once per month for 6 months for instruction. Students will gain experience in the community by working with actual clients.  Between sessions, there will be self-study modules and quizzes to complete and a comprehensive certification exam at the end of the course.

There is an optional choice to participate in monthly seminars and workshops on various topics related to pregnancy, perinatal mental health, midwifery skills, etc. offered throughout the year. 


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 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
  • 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 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 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.


  • 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  Disparities
  • Understanding the Birth Process: Anatomy & Physiology of Parturition
  • 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.


This is a 32-hour hybrid training, which takes place over 1 year. 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 12 months.  Self-directed study modules and quizzes are 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. Participants have 6 months to complete the hands-on portion of the course working with actual mothers and infants.


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

Early Bird Tuition: $625.00  (Due 3 months prior to course; payment in full is required).

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

Group Discount Rate: $525.00 per person. Discounts for 4 or more persons registering together. Invoicing is available for companies, universities, non-profit organizations, hospitals, etc.

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.


2020 Courses

Dates of Course:  November, 2020 to May, 2021

Location:  Online on Zoom and in-person sessions in Los Angeles, CA


Contact us for an application. or call (626) 388-2191 ext. 2.


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 persons are encouraged to apply as this is the population we serve.


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

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, 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 instruct  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, Perinatal Health Educator, Doula, Midwife, Lactation Educator

Cordelia Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA, is the Program Designer 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 and has a new grand-baby on the way.


Nakeya Fields, LCSW, PPSE – Co-Course Leader

Nakeya Fields, LCSW

Nakeya T. Fields, LCSW, PPSE, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, Trauma Informed Yoga Practitioner, is an mental health entrepreneur, author, speaker, and empowerment coach.  

Nakeya is an alumna of the University of Southern California (USC) where she received a BA in Communication, a Master’s in Social Work and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Social Work and Child Welfare and  Attendance. Nakeya is also a Registered Play Therapist – Supervisor and a certified field instructor and clinical supervisor. Nakeya is a 200 HR TT Yoga instructor, certificated in trauma informed restorative yoga and is certified in Mini Yogis Yoga for Kids yoga.  She is licensed by the Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of California.

She is the owner of Fields Family Counseling Services, which specializes in mental health services that serve the complete family unit. Nakeya is also the Founder, President and Chair of the Board for The Therapeutic Play Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to build a healthier, more resilient world for those in disadvantaged communities through empowerment, education and play. And she is the Director of The Feel Well Empowerment Center which offers wellness resources such as community workshops (chakra healing, acupuncture, parenting, restorative yoga), books, candles, and aromatherapy. 

Nakeya is the best selling author of “Mental Health Entrepreneur – Gain Freedom and Escape the 9-5 Grind: How To Treat Mental Illness and Monetize Your Expertise”, released In April 2018. Her second book, The “Manifest It! Action Planner: An Accountability Tool for the Powerful”, will available in January 2020.

Further, Nakeya acts as a program development and staffing consultant to develop progressive health and wellness programs that incorporate creative modalities within educational, corporate and community driven organizations. She also provides in-service seminars and is available for book signings, expert panels, speaking engagements, and consultation.



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


Augie Rigual, CD, IBCLC, LCCE

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.



Elsie Gutierrez, Manager of Community Programs

Call: (626) 388-2191 ext. 2 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.