Perinatal Support Specialist Training – Community-Based Doula Program


Perinatal Support Specialist Training & Certification Program

Community Based Doula 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.
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 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.


7-Day, 54-hour course meets once per week for 7 weeks, 8 hours per day. Hours are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm each day. Lecture, discussion, role play, skill demonstration, experiential exercises  and videos enhance the learner’s understanding.


Upon completing this 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 a 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 2018 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: Wednesdays, May 2nd through June, 20, 2018 from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. We meet once per week on Wednesday for the Perinatal Support Specialist Course, though the Promatora Training meets three times per week: Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.


In collaboration with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, we will conduct this course as part of their 9-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, you 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: 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.

To Apply:  Contact  Norma Benitez, Director of Programs at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation for application beginning December, 2017. 

Rationale for this Course
from the Preamble to the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services:
  • In spite of spending far more money per capita on maternity and perinatal support specialist training offered by The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Healthnewborn care than any other country, the United States falls behind most industrialized countries in perinatal* morbidity* and mortality, and maternal mortality is four times greater for African-American women than for Euro-American women;
  • Midwives attend the vast majority of births in those industrialized countries with the best perinatal outcomes, yet in the United States, midwives are the principal attendants at only a small percentage of births;
  • Current maternity and newborn practices that contribute to high costs and inferior outcomes include the inappropriate application of technology and routine procedures that are not based on scientific evidence;
  • Increased dependence on technology has diminished confidence in women’s innate ability to give birth without intervention;
  • The integrity of the mother-child relationship, which begins in pregnancy, is compromised by the obstetrical treatment of mother and baby as if they were separate units with conflicting needs;
  • Although breastfeeding has been scientifically shown to provide optimum health, nutritional, and developmental benefits to newborns and their mothers, only a fraction of U.S. mothers are fully breastfeeding their babies by the age of six weeks;
  • The current maternity care system in the United States does not provide equal access to health care resources for women from disadvantaged population groups, women without insurance, and women whose insurance dictates caregivers or place of birth.
  • Although breastfeeding has been scientifically shown to provide optimum health, nutritional, and developmental benefits to newborns and their mothers, only a fraction of U.S. mothers are fully breastfeeding their babies by the age of six weeks;
  • The current maternity care system in the United States does not provide equal access to health care resources for women from disadvantaged population groups, women without insurance, and women whose insurance dictates caregivers or place of birth.
Community Partner & Program Overview: Esperanza Community Housing CorporationEsperanza logo
  • 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

    Esperanza Community Health Promoter Class of 2017

    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 in order to give community women the skills and knowledge to support pregnant and parenting women and reduce health disparities among low-income women of color.Through this collaboration,  Hope Reborn Doula Support Program/Programa Esperanza Renace Compañero offers clients who would otherwise not be able to afford quality , culturally-relevant maternity care.  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 teen mothers 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. Graduates of the  program will be able to receive a 6-month internship with AWMNH’s mentors to develop skills in perinatal education and support for mothers and newborns.


  • Introduction and Overview of  Perinatal Support

    Instructor Cordelia Hanna teaching childbirth education

  • 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
  • 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

    Participants learning labor coping skills

  • 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


Principal Instructor & Curriculum Developer: Cordelia S. Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA

Cordelia Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA

Cordelia Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA

Cordelia S. Hanna  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 2002-2009. 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 8-1/2 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. Visit Cordelia’s personal website to learn more.

Dr. Sayida Peprah, Psy.D., CD (Guest Instructor)

Sayida Peprah, Psy.D.

Sayida Peprah, Psy.D.

Dr. Sayida 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, facilitating online courses in Diversity and Cultural Factors in Psychology.  Past courses taught have been Research Methods & Program Evaluation at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ; Research Methods and Critical Analysis, Interface of Society, Cross-Cultural Morals & Values, African American History and African American Psychology at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, CA; and Life Span Psychology at West Coast University, in Los Angeles, CA.  Additionally, Dr. Peprah has guest-lectured at numerous colleges, on topics of clinical considerations for working with special ethnic populations including Native Americans, African Americans and Muslim Americans.

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

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 also a Birth Doula, who has worked with women of diverse backgrounds, and is a Board Member and Co-Instructor with The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health, teaching cultural awareness, cross-cultural communication and perinatal mood disorder content for the organization’s trainings, and is a Psychological Consultant for the organization’s clients both individual and corporate. 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.


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.




Subscribe to our Mailing List