Careers in Birth Work: The Many Ways To Get Involved

Ever heard the expression, “It takes a village?” Thaaat’s because it does. Each phase of pregnancy has a specialist, a guru, and a support group. That’s precisely why we’re so interested in the world surrounding the incredible process of birth. It’s full of people working hard to make women feel empowered and in control of a somewhat unpredictable experience. We believe birth work is among the most rewarding careers to pursue. You’ve heard of a doula and a midwife, but there are so many other birth work careers worth exploring. The following is a list of eight birth worker positions and how you can get started!


Childbirth Educator

What is it? The purpose of a childbirth educator is to properly inform and prepare a family or individual for what they are about to experience during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. They provide a safe place for their client to ask any question or voice any fears they may have about birth. They may also host courses, classes, and support groups for anyone interesting in learning the ins and outs of childbirth. 

What training is required? Certification is necessary to receive professional recognition as a childbirth educator. CAPPA, or the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association is an excellent program to receive training through. They offer a few different course levels including an entirely online program. 


Prenatal Nutrition Counselor

What is it? A nutrition counselor provides information about the variety and quantity of nutrients a pregnant woman should be consuming as well as the number of calories she should take in each day. The emphasis on diet during pregnancy is necessary to optimize the healthy growth of the fetus while keeping the mother nourished as well. 

What training is required? You must become a certified nutritionist in order to practice as a prenatal nutrition counselor. We recommend IIN (Institute For Integrative Nutrition), a very popular holistic nutrition program whose online training course emphasizes dietary theories and nutrition science. 


Prenatal Massage Therapist

What is it? A prenatal massage therapist specializes in providing relaxation and physical stress relief in pregnant women using gentle pressure. The techniques work in tandem with the anatomical changes the female body experiences during pregnancy. 

What training is required? Specific prenatal masseuse certification is required before practicing. Body Therapy Education provides both an in-person and online prenatal massage certification course that is recognized by DONA, the Doulas of North America. 


Ever wonder what it’s like to be a male in the birth work space? Well, we spoke with Austin Humble, the recent founder of Compa Doula, and got the scoop on what it’s like working in an industry fueled by female energy… but not to worry, he brought a spark of his own. Read more here!


Maternity & Newborn Photographer

What is it? Maternity & Newborn Photographers are the ones responsible for those adorable photos you get in the mail of your friend’s new baby, or those stunning bare belly portraits of pregnant mamas you see on Instagram. Not only are these photographers artists, but they certainly need to have a way with children in order to capture that brief moment of focus a child has before staring off into space again. 

What training is required? Fortunately, no formal training or certification is required. You just need a good eye and artistic sensibility. Although, photography books and courses would be a great idea if you’re looking to start a serious business. Invest in a camera and start shooting pregnant friends and their beautiful babies!


Lactation Consultant

What is it? With the many difficulties that can occur during breast-feedings such as latching problems, lack of milk production, or painful feeding, a lactation consultant prepares their client for any struggles and most importantly, teaches them how to most efficiently feed their growing baby. They can also help with babies who may not be gaining enough weight. A lactation consultant typically has widespread knowledge but specializes in the postpartum. 

What training is required? Official certification requires at least 90 hours of lactation education and 1000 hours of clinical experience with new mothers and their children. Lactation Education offers an online CLSC (Certified Lactation Specialist Course) with live instructors. 


Newborn Night Nurse

What is it? A night nurse is a nanny or caretaker who works the night shift, giving the newborn’s mother/parents a chance to get some well-deserved sleep. The nurse will soothe the baby when they wake, bottle feed them, rock them back to sleep and provide peace of mind for the whole family. 

What training is required? While the word “nurse” is often used, this role is closer to a babysitter or nanny, so professional nurse training is not necessary for this job. Although, extensive newborn, postnatal, sleep training, and childcare knowledge is. Being a night nurse is about building a strong relationship and trust with the family you’re providing care for. And maybe taking a nap during the daytime… 


Prenatal/Postnatal Fitness Instructor

What is it? A prenatal fitness instructor will help guide you during your workouts, ensuring your intensity and positioning are safe for you and the baby. A postnatal fitness instructor is someone you will turn to when you’re ready to start gaining back some core strength, stability, and overall muscle tone you may have lost during pregnancy. Postnatal fitness often focuses on the re-strengthening of the pelvic floor. 

What training is required? Much like any standard trainer, official certification is required. AFPA fitness has an amazing pre/postnatal program that focuses on pre/postnatal physiology, trimester-specific exercise, and optimal maternal health. It’s online, go-at-your-own-pace, and totally affordable. 


Prenatal Chiropractor 

What is it? While it is difficult to find practices that are solely dedicated to prenatal chiropractics, all certified chiropractors receive training in prenatal care and then some go on to make it their specialty. Pregnancy puts a tremendous strain on the back and chiropractic treatment may provide relief, better sleep, more energy, and less anxiety. 

What training is required? You obviously have to obtain the standard chiropractic training and certification which typically requires four years of schooling and clinical training. However, if you’re focusing on prenatal chiro, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting women-specific training and supplementing your program with pelvic floor therapy training.