Also referred to as antenatal, preparation for parenthood, labour classes, preparation for birth, childbirth education classes.  There are many different prenatal classes available, from hospital based programs to private group/individual classes conducted by trained Childbirth Educators.

It is important for the doula to know what classes are available in your area, so you can give a couple good, clear information about each option.



  • Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
  • Components of Communication
  • Barriers to Communication



  • Language Perceptions
  • Language for Pregnancy
  • Language for Birth
  • Language for Post-Natal
  • Body Language



  • Active Listening Skills
  • Empathy and Sympathy
  • How to Question

The business of being an ‘effective’ Doula requires excellent communication skills.  Being a ‘good’ listener is probably one of life’s great challenges.  It is rare to find someone who is skilled at listening, and when you do it is a treat.

From time to time we’re all guilty of listening, but not effectively enough to actually ‘hear’ (and fully comprehend) the message being sent to us.  As a doula this can have a negative impact on a woman’s pregnancy, labour and birth.

The reason the listening process can be, at times, so ineffective, is because listening and hearing are not the same.  Hearing is actually just one stage of listening, which occurs when your ears pick up sound waves and transmit these waves to your brain.  On the other hand, listening is a whole communication process.  By understanding the process and utilizing the right tools, you can improve your listening skills, ensuring you do more than just hear the words.

To receive the communicated message loud and clear, you have to be an active participant in the communication process.  In the case of listening, this requires you to understand and evaluate every spoken message, and to follow this with the appropriate action – a response that confirms the spoken message.

People generally vary in how clearly they express themselves and have different needs and purposes for communicating, messages that are sent (and received) in different ways, making effective listening challenging at times.

It is important to understand there are different listening modes.


  1. Competitive or Combative Listening  –  this type of listening occurs when the receiver may be more interested in promoting his/her point of view instead of considering the speaker’s thoughts.  When this occurs, the listener may look for breaks in the conversation so she can deliver her own points of view, perhaps attacking any points they may not agree with:  hence combative listening.  In such cases, the listener may only be pretending to pay attention to the speaker, while actually formulating what they need/want to say next.  Unfortunately, as this happens, the listener is often more involved in formulating their argument or rebuttal than in listening, which so often results in confused communication.
  1. Passive or Attentive Listening –  This type of listening occurs when the listener is sincerely interested in both hearing and understanding the message that is being spoken to them.  This listener is actively listening:  however, the problem occurs when this good listener fails to take action, i.e. does not verify all she is told, and hence is passive.

Active or Reflective Listening  –  This type of listening occurs when the listener is genuinely interested in the speaker’s message.  She sincerely wants to

  1. know what the speaker thinks, how the speaker feels, and what the speaker wants, and is active in confirming that she understands all of this before reacting.  This listener is very effective and will take the time to verify the message by repeating it to the speaker.  Clearly, this type of listening is most effective and highly recommended for optimal results.


Take the time now to consider what kind of listener you are and consider how you can improve your listening skills.  Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness.  Understanding your personal style of communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create good and lasting impressions on your clients.


Remember, what someone says and what we hear can be amazingly different – especially with pregnant and labouring women.  Our personal filters, assumptions, judgements and beliefs can distort what we hear.  Repeat back or summarise to ensure that you understand.  Re-state what you think you heard and ask, “Have I understood you correctly?”  Feedback is a verbal communications means used to clearly demonstrate you are actively listening and to confirm the communications between you and others.  Obviously, this serves to further ensure the communications are understood and is a great tool to use to verify everything you heard while actively listening.


To be an effective listener, you need to find a balance between listening, hearing and responding.  This does mean providing appropriate information, but only at the right time.  Use eye contact and be aware of your body language, always being respectful of the woman’s wishes.  Be comfortable with silence, it is a powerful tool, especially in labour.