Voluntary doula licensing now available to support maternal health in our state

At a time when maternal health and mortality rates are top of mind within the medical community, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is proud to offer a voluntary licensing program for doulas. Applicants that meet the requirements for licensure and are granted doula certification will receive a three-year license to provide certified services.

The Doula Licensing program, established under Laws 2021, Ch. 282 (Senate bill 1181), offers information and support to those serving the community and supporting maternal health statewide. This voluntary program serves to provide access to information, services, and education. 

Under A.R.S. § 36-766, a doula is defined as “a trained nonmedical professional who may provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to families before, during, and after childbirth for a period of one year after birth or in the case of loss and who may serve as a liaison between the birth parents and medical and social services staff to improve the quality of medical, social, and behavioral outcomes.” 

Studies have shown that doulas can help decrease the risk of adverse maternal health outcomes, particularly among women who are at higher risk of maternal morbidity and mortality. One recent study on doulas found women who received doula care had lower odds of cesarean delivery and postpartum depression and anxiety, and that integrating doulas into maternity care has the potential to reduce disparities in maternal morbidity.

ADHS’ new Doula Licensing program provides information regarding licensure, department-approved doula programs, services, and education. Applicants seeking licensure need to be at least 18 years old to apply, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have training or documentation of doula-specific education, and have written documentation of specific professional experiences.


Under the rules, licensed doulas will have a wide scope of practice and be able to provide a range of services to parents including:

  • Providing care coordination, coaching, and social support.
  • Providing emotional support of individuals’ parenting choices.
  • Advocating for parents.
  • Assessing the needs of families.
  • Providing hands-on education about newborn care including normal newborn behavior, newborn appearance, sleep habits, feeding and bathing and dressing the baby.
  • Breastfeeding consulting.
  • Preparing bottles including washing, cleaning, and sterilizing.
  • Cord and circumcision care.
  • Assistance in establishing a routine.
  • Organizing the nursery and home.
  • Sibling education and transition.

While certified doulas are able to provide many important and essential services to parents, they are not able to provide physical health services or behavioral health services to clients. 

To research licensed doulas, members of the public can use AZ Care Check, a searchable database listing licensing history, which may include deficiencies and/or enforcement actions found against facilities/providers by ADHS. This information will be available in AZ Care Check in late August of 2023. 

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