CAPPA Postpartum Doula Training

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a CAPPA Postpartum Doula Training taught by the wonderful Jill Reiter. As I announced a month or so ago, I now offer postpartum doula services to my birth families. This training helped me cement my scope of practice and strengthen my skills. Here’s what I learned if you’d like to take a look!

Thank you,  RISE , for letting us use your space!

Thank you, RISE, for letting us use your space!

Day 1

We started off the day with housekeeping, learning what CAPPA is and what they stand for. We also talked about certification. I’d like to write a post about doula certification in the future because, with so much more visibility and support for doulas, I think the question of certification will become more important very soon!

A big part of our discussion was about the postpartum doula’s scope of practice and how postpartum doulas are different than other postpartum support providers. My biggest take away was that the number one priority of a postpartum doula is caring for the birthing person or primary caregiver. This might involve holding or caring for the baby or other children, but it also includes processing the birth story, preparing healthy snacks for the birthing person or making sure they get a nap. Postpartum doulas care for your baby with you to help you build your confidence in your new role. We can’t cut your babies fingernails for you, but we can offer resources and provide moral support while you try it! We are there for you to help ease the transition into parenthood.

During lunch we got to watch a super cool film about baby’s cues. We learned about engagement and disengagement cues, and, guess what, when babies bang on the table or their highchair tray it’s actually a disengagement cue! Did you know that? I sure didn’t! Also , I knew that when babies bring their hands to their mouth it can mean they’re hungry, but I didn’t know it can also mean they’re overwhelmed. It was fascinating to see how babies communicate even before they can talk.

Teaching tucked-in skin-to-skin

Teaching tucked-in skin-to-skin

We also talked about caring for the postpartum family, including pets! Jill talked about the acronym NEAR when approaching the support of families. It stands for Nurture, Educate, Assess and Refer. Nurture means to take care of the postpartum person and their family. How can we best support them with kindness and compassion? Educate refers to the ability of the doula to share knowledge and resources about this very specific parenting period. Assess means keeping an eye out for dirty dishes or extra anxiety in a client’s voice. We need to notice the little things that might otherwise be overlooked. And the ability to refer is one of the biggest tools in our arsenal. Doulas, birth or postpartum, have connections in the community with other professionals who can support the postpartum family.


Day 1 ended on a heavier, but still very important, note. We talked about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders and grief and loss during the perinatal period. Approximately 1 in 5 birthing people will struggle with PMAD and 1 in 7 to 1 in 10 partners will experience PMAD as well. It’s a very important issue that not a lot of people are talking about and not a lot of providers are trained to respond appropriately. We reviewed the warning signs and resources for support.

Day 2

The first order of business was learning about the newborn, including their all-important poop schedule, complete with photographic examples! We talked about the importance of paced bottle feeding to promote continued healthy breastfeeding and then practiced swaddling, diapering and bathing. Jill showed us a video about how to give a “spa bath” to keep your baby happy and warm. You can put them in the tub or sink still wrapped in a swaddle and unwrap their arms and legs separately so they stay warmer. Such a cool tip!

Effective listening in action!

Effective listening in action!

We also talked about and reviewed effective listening strategies. Often, as humans, we want to fix a situation or add our input, but it’s usually most helpful to just listen and validate while the other person works through their feelings and concerns. This is always a skill that I’m improving. As someone who could be described as “chatty,” I can always be a better listener!

We finished up the weekend with a discussion about business practices and tips for business development. I’m a very recent (and slightly reluctant) entrepreneur, so I’m always looking to soak up as many tips as I can!


Last but not least, we exchanged hugs and phone numbers because what an incredible group of people this was! Everyone is so dedicated to supporting postpartum families and making that support accessible to all families. Thank you, Jill, for this amazing experience!

Maggie Mehr