Getting Started as a Childbirth Educator
Becoming an independent childbirth educator is exciting and rewarding, but not necessarily straightforward. It is easy to become overwhelmed with your options, or you may not know even where to begin. Becoming a childbirth educator is, in essence, starting your own business.
This article will give you a starting point on your journey to teaching childbirth classes, one of the most rewarding and important jobs you could choose.
First, consider some of the logistics of teaching:
Do I have time in my schedule to teach?
You will need to decide on a variety of time factors:
- How many classes you will include in a course (total hours of instruction per course)
- How long you will meet for each class
- Time spent planning, organizing, and preparing
- Time spent interacting with clients outside of class
- Non-teaching time spent on marketing, networking, record-keeping, etc.
If, for example, you teach a 6-week class with each class lasting two hours, you will likely spend 5 or more hours per week (and maybe much more for your first few courses).
Where will I teach?
Many educators teach from their home. Consider whether you have the space, where your family can go during class, and factor in the time to clean and prepare your space each week. You can also explore the idea of partnering with a local business and teaching in their space (in exchange for marketing, an hourly fee or a percent of your course fee). Other locations to explore include community centers, schools, day cares or churches. Research the requirements and regulations for the facility and factor in any cost you will need to pay to use the facility.
How will I get the word out?
This may be the biggest challenge that a brand-new educator will face. If you become certified, your certifying body may have a directory on their website where you can be listed, but these are usually nation-wide and may or may not be helpful in getting you clients. These are a few ideas to spread the word:
- Word of mouth - ask friends, family or professional connections to share.
- Online directories for childbirth educators and doulas (as they often go hand-in-hand).
- Create a free or low-cost, simple website for yourself that lists information about your class content and schedule.
- Use social media (create business accounts).
- Create brochures, fliers and/or business cards for yourself to distribute locally.
- Consider taking your marketing materials to the offices of doctors, midwives, chiropractors, as well as places like preschools, YMCAs, and other locations that may be frequented by young couples and parents.
Can I afford the starting costs?
While it is possible to keep costs low, there will inevitably be some cost involved in getting started. This might include:
- Training and/or certification
- Travel expenses to get to and from training
- Teaching materials such as workbooks, handouts, a curriculum, visual aids, etc.
- Designing and printing marketing materials
You don't necessarily need to have everything right away, but some materials will be necessary. Plumtree Baby has created a Childbirth Educator Starter Package that includes the most essential elements to get the ball rolling or you can start small and add supplies as you go.
How much will I make as an educator?
The answer to this question varies widely. Educators who are well established and offer a steady schedule of classes can make a decent part-time income, while others may find that for the first year or so, their classes are small and not profitable. Depending on the length of the class, the depth of information covered and your expertise, you may find you can charge anywhere from $40 to $400 for each couple. Look at other childbirth education classes in your area and compare fees. As you become more established, you may be able to raise your fees to reflect your experience.
Second, consider certification:
As you look into organizations that train and certify childbirth educators, it is important to understand that there is no universal governing body that regulates childbirth education, in the way that careers such as nurses or public school teachers are regulated. A “certified” childbirth educator has completed some sort of program, but these programs and certifying bodies vary widely.
If you are teaching independently, certification is not required. Anyone can write up lesson plans, make a schedule, and hold classes. However, there are benefits to the training you receive from an organization, as well as maintaining an ongoing membership with an organization. Certifying organizations provide you with a community of other educators, resources, and some organizations provide very specific and detailed curriculum and materials. Your certifying body may also keep you motivated to continuously learn and improve, as continuing education credits are usually required every few years as part of your renewal requirements. If you work for another business (such as a hospital), they will likely have requirements for your certification and may only hire those who are certified through specific organizations. The primary drawbacks to certification are the cost and time, and some organizations restrict the materials and content of their educators, which does not allow for as much individuality or flexibility in your classes, but does maintain a uniformity to the method/program. Other organizations allow educators to create a course that best fits their clients’ needs, using materials and a course format of the educator's choosing. The table below summarizes many of the certifying organizations that are available in the U.S.
In order to make the best decision for yourself and your goals, it is wise to contact and speak in person with a representative of the organization before committing to one, as well as talking with other educators who have gone through the process of training and certification. Philosophies, approaches and regulations vary widely.
|ACBE||3-day in person||$650|
|BEST||1-2 day in person||$795|
|Birth Arts International||online (limited in person options available)||$500|
|Birth Boot Camp||3-day in person (online offered twice a year)||$995|
|Birthing From Within||2.5-day in person followed by online module course||$747|
|BirthWorks||3-day in person||$1075|
|CAPPA||3-day in person or online||$765|
|Commonsense Childbirth Institute||2-day in person or online||$600|
|Doula Trainings International||online||$1052|
|Evidence Based Birth®||online||$1197|
|Great Starts (through Parent Trust)||5 weeks via Zoom||$575|
|Hypnobabies||5-day in person, one day online, plus prereq 50 hours hypnosis training or provided self-study course ($250)||$1495|
|Hypnobirthing||4-day in person||$1395|
|ICEA||2-day in person or online||$1140/online, $1330/in person|
|Lamaze International||2-3 day in person or online||$895|
|Missionary Midwifery Training School - Christian CBE||4 weeks (online)||$800|
Last updated August 2022
*Note that independent work (reading, auditing, etc.) is required by almost every certifying organization in addition to training, and most require a minimum final exam score. Some organizations offer modified/accelerated programs or fewer requirements for individuals who are in the healthcare field, or who have experience or other certifications.
**These are estimates of the total cost of certification, reflecting the traditional path. This amount is based on information from each organization's website, which may change without notice. Many variables affect cost (in person/online, traditional/accelerated, early bird discounts, required materials, fees for exam, certification, etc.). Some offer payment plans. Many organizations have an annual membership fee in addition to the one-time cost of training and certification.
Though it may take time to sort through everything, it will be worth it as you begin your journey as a childbirth educator. As we tell our clients, education and information bring empowerment and clearer direction. Your own time researching and reflecting will help you to be more confident in your choices, know where and how to market yourself and be ready to welcome clients into your first class.
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Thanks for commenting! It is very common for childbirth educators to create their own curriculum. We also sell a evidence-based curriculum that you can use as a starting point for creating your own or to teach from directly. http://www.plumtreebaby.com/collections/teaching-aids/products/ptb-curriculum
This section of the article above talks about certification:
“It is important to understand that there is no universal governing body that regulates childbirth education, in the way that careers such as nurses or public school teachers are regulated. A “certified” childbirth educator has completed some sort of program, but these programs and certifying bodies vary widely.
There is no requirement that a childbirth educator be certified in order to teach. Anyone can write up lesson plans, make a schedule, and hold classes. There are, however, certain benefits to the training you receive from an organization, as well as maintaining an ongoing membership with an organization."
Best of luck as you get started!
I am curious what information you have about creating your own Childbirth Education curriculum? If I did not want to certify with one of the above organizations, but rather create one of my own. Do I need to follow/certify any boards or rules/regulations?
I did the distance certification through CAPPA and had a horrible time with them. I repeatedly had emails ignored or inadequately answered. When it came time to decide whether to renew my membership I reached out to my CAPPA region’s facebook group for any encouragement to not ditch the major investment I made in my CAPPA certification, instead of responding an admin deleted my comment and then deleted me when I questioned why my comment was removed (it’s a closed group). My experience with CAPPA was overall a very disappointing let down and I’m just writing this because I don’t want other women who have the same dream to end up with the same experience; go with an organization that actually cares about you as a person and a professional, not just another number! :)
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