Document Type

Curriculum Material

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

May 2015


A birth doula is a specially trained birth assistant who provides emotional, psychological and physical support and care to a pregnant and/or laboring woman. In providing this care, the doula helps the laboring woman and her support person achieve their most optimal birth experience. This is typically an unmedicated birth; however, doulas may attend any birth and be of profound assistance and comfort.

This curriculum was written specifically for nursing students who are being trained as lay doulas. Unique in its approach and delivery, the curriculum is written with the nursing student in mind; particularly a student who has already been exposed to courses in anatomy, physiology and basic nursing concepts. However, it can easily be used with students who have not had this exposure, or exposure to specific women’s health content. While completing the course of study does not enable the student to sit for doula certification through a nationally recognized organization, it does provide valuable insight and baseline education necessary to fulfil their role. Students trained with this curriculum are prepared to attend women experiencing low risk, anticipated vaginal birth, as well as women who experience operative vaginal delivery and cesarean section. Additionally, specialty topics such as psychosocial concerns in the childbearing family, caring for the family experiencing birth of a special needs child, and breastfeeding education and advocacy are covered. Practice tips, safety alerts, and questions for reflection are highlighted in the margins of the curriculum, as well as links to external resources which may help build the student’s body of knowledge.

Key Words: Curriculum design, women’s health, doula, childbirth, student doula


Copyright © 2015 The Authors

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VCU School of Nursing Publications