The West Coast's Leader in Doula Training

Training courses in San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR.

  • Full Labor and Postpartum Doula certification
  • Intensive workshops backed by over 16 years of experience
  • Small group classes in a comfortable home setting
  • Business skills training included

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Photography by Walter M. Ford

What makes Cornerstone unique?

With a strong commitment to inclusivity and social justice, our agency is at the forefront of a doula training revolution. No other doula training provides both an unsurpassed business course, as well as essential hands-on traditional tools and wisdom. Cornerstone provides the best of both worlds in our program: empowering our students with the tools to have a successful business, while providing an understanding of the deeper emotional and psychosocial aspects of birth. Our courses will provide you with the knowledge, confidence and skills to start attending births immediately. With an efficient certification model that is based in self-evaluation and direct mentoring, we provide a clear path to a sustainable business from the start. Cornerstone Doula Trainings: Engage. Inform. Empower.

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Our Students Really Us

“Cornerstone has literally changed my life. Juli & Nickie have put together an incredibly comprehensive program.” Jessica C, Mill Valley, CA
“I was blown away by my labor doula training with Nickie at Cornerstone. Nickie is exactly my style of teacher: straightforward, funny, intelligent, and caring.” Clarissa H, San Francisco, CA
“Nickie is very present without being dogmatic. I highly recommend attending her classes.” Yaminah A, Oakland, CA
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Doula Training Courses

In-depth Doula Training workshops for aspiring birth workers of all skill levels.

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Labor Doula Training | Beginner’s Course

Target Audience

Appropriate for all levels of experience. No prerequisites required.

Course Overview

**The Core Beginner's Course is our labor doula training.**
This intensive 24-hour workshop covers everything an aspiring doula will need to build and maintain a strong, professional, and successful birth practice. Leave this course with the confidence, knowledge, and skills to begin attending births immediately!

**Courses required for labor doula certification: Labor Doula Training, Postpartum Doula Training, and Homebirth for Doulas Workshop. Read more →


Childbirth Educator Teacher Training

Target Audience

Anyone interested in teaching childbirth preparation courses to expecting families. No prerequisite classes needed.

Course Overview

Teaching childbirth education course series' to expecting couples/parents is a great way to create positive change in birth outcomes, while gaining an increase in income.

Now is the time for a new paradigm in childbirth education! Cornerstone is committed to providing a well rounded, effective, and unbiased training course to the childbirth educators of our time. We know that one particular model may not work for everyone and that most methods only teach their students one way. Developed by a doula and homebirth midwife, The Cornerstone Method draws upon over 18 years of direct service experience to provide a system that works for all families regardless of structure, identity, and birthing setting. The Cornerstone Method is the first CBE method of its kind that has a strong commitment to social justice and inclusivity. Our student workbook is representative for many family structures, as well as QPOC.
Our mission is to engage, inform, and empower.
Create change with us. Become a Cornerstone childbirth educator. Read more →

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Postpartum Doula Training

Target Audience

Appropriate for all levels of experience. No prerequisites required.

Course Overview

This weekend-long course offers full training and certification for Postpartum doulas. This course provides everything an aspiring postpartum doula will need to confidently and effectively support new families in the most holistic and gentle way. With a strong focus on social justice, inclusivity, and birth/postpartum psychology, Cornerstone's postpartum doula training is the most in-depth and effective training available. Create change. Become a postpartum doula. Read more →

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Empower Your Clients: Understanding Prenatal Testing

Target Audience

All birth workers who work with clients prenatally

Course Overview

This informative workshop will give you a clear understanding of prenatal testing from the beginning to end of pregnancy. Your clients will benefit greatly from your knowledge of these topics as questions come up for them throughout your working relationship. This essential class will boost your doula practice to a new level! Read more →


Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy & Fermenting Party

Target Audience

All people who are interested in learning more about nutrition and fermentation.

Course Overview

A full day class with the most up to date nutritional information to help all birth workers support their clients prenatally, as well as a full lesson on how to ferment your own foods. Read more →


Placenta Specialist Certification

Target Audience

Appropriate for all skill levels. **Please read course content for class prerequisites.

Course Overview

Full preparation and certification for becoming a professional placenta specialist: This course covers everything you will need to build and maintain a strong, professional, and successful practice. Take your birth practice to the next level with this certification! Read more →

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Homebirth For Doulas

Target Audience

Appropriate for all levels of experience. No prerequisites required.

Course Overview

This workshop will prepare you for the very special experience of witnessing a natural birth at home and will give you specific labor support techniques and tools. Read more →

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Optimal Fetal Positioning: The Wisdom and Practice

Target Audience

Appropriate for doulas who have already attended a labor doula training.

Course Overview

Gain tools to help change baby's position during labor and birth for an easier delivery, as well as determining fetal position from feeling the mama's belly. Read more →

Frequently Asked Questions

Cornerstone Core values:

Awareness of cross-cultural worldview:
We are sensitive to the needs of diverse families and work with all orientations, ethnic backgrounds, religions and gender identity.

Honoring choice:
We embrace all birth choices with utmost respect.

Reverence for birth:
We identify birth as a momentous experience for both the laboring woman/person and their partner(s).

Advocacy for the baby:
We recognize that birth is also a vital experience for the baby.

Respect for care providers:
We maintain the utmost professional integrity in all birth settings. We have strong professional relationships with Obstetricians, Midwives and Nurses spanning across the Bay Area and beyond.

Continuity of care:
We are 100% committed to each family we work with and make sure that we are available for every birth by not over-scheduling. In the rare case of an emergency, we always have a backup ready to step in that our families have met and feel comfortable with prior to labor.
Our classes are taught in the Sunset District of San Francisco, only 3 blocks from the N Judah line. There is also ample street parking for those who drive to our location. We soon will be scheduling advanced doula trainings in other states and cities; stay tuned!
Cornerstone is the doula training written for doulas by doulas!

*Real world approaches to all things a doula will encounter from building your business, building relationships with hospital staff and midwives, to hands-on practice lab with an in-depth Lab Manual Handbook.

*Our curriculum fills in gaps that other doula trainings leave untouched. We delve deeper into the emotional and psychological aspects of birth for mom, partner and baby.

*Cornerstone is the ONLY doula training that adds the midwifery model component, as well as prenatal and perinatal psychology.

*Small groups in a comfortable home setting provide the space to take time to answer questions during class. We practice all hands-on skills together, which is something you cannot get from an online or distance learning program.

*Our trainings give you the tools necessary to navigate the hospital system, thereby creating long-lasting positive professional relationships with their staff.

*Cornerstone is extremely well established in the Bay Area and providers prefer our doulas.

*We get you clients! Cornerstone offers a "Doula match-making service" and features our students on our website.

How to book training courses:
Register for courses by paying a non-refundable deposit for one or more courses at Please note that any payment made on our website is a deposit and is non-refundable, non transferable. By booking a training course on our website, you (“the user”) are accepting and acknowledging understanding of our terms and conditions.

Booking confirmation:
A trainer will contact you within 24 hours with a confirmation email. This email will be sent to the address provided by you on our registration page.

Payment of non-refundable deposit must be made at time of booking. The remainder of fees, if any will be due on the first day of class using cash, credit, debit, or check.

All course deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. All payments made on our registration page are said deposits.

Special requirements:
Cornerstone Doula Training will make every effort to accommodate special requirements that have been notified in advance via email at or phone at (510) 501-7501.

Course transfers:
We allow for a one-time transfer of deposit in the event of emergency or birth attendance. This transfer is non-transferable and can only be used for the same course that was initially registered.

We have a strict 48 hour cancellation policy for course transfer. If you have registered and do not show for the class without notification us, you will owe the entire course fee and be charged by us on the first day of class. We do not offer refunds to any deposits paid on our website with cancellation. Please see our course transfer information above.

We do not offer refunds to any deposits paid on our website for non-attendance of a course. Please see our course transfer information above.

Cornerstone Doula Training does not accept responsibility for any harm, loss, or damages due to participating in our doula training courses. Participants in our courses take full responsibility for participation in hands-on practice, as well as use of our home and classroom. Cornerstone Doula Training does not accept responsibility for any harm, loss, or damages to future clients of our students. Our students take full responsibility for their practice in the capacity of labor and/or postpartum doula once trained and/or certified through Cornerstone Doula Training.

Any questions:
Please contact either Nickie Tilsner or Juli Tilsner by emailing or calling (510) 501-7501.
Yes we do. We offer certification for Labor Doulas, Postpartum Doulas and Placenta Specialists.
Yes! We absolutely encourage cross-training! Our doula training is so unique with a much more holistic approach than other trainings. With us you will gain strong business tools, incredible post training mentoring and support, as well as many new perspectives and tools that you will not gain with any other training. We have trained many, many seasoned doulas and they all come out of their trainings with us completely transformed in their practice!
Labor Doula Certification: CD

After attending the Labor Doula Training, Postpartum Doula Training and Homebirth for Doulas workshop, our doulas are labor doula certified.

Your first three births attended post-certification will follow our self-evaluation guidelines. Cornerstone will never ask you to work for free, nor will we tell you what to charge for your first births. We will give you community guidelines for rates of pay and will support you in gaining paying clients from the start.

Postpartum Doula Certification: CPpD

Postpartum doula certification given at the end of our Postpartum Doula Training.
There is no official accreditation for doula training in the US. The agency that you choose for certification should be inline with your vision, philosophy, and needs. What sets Cornerstone apart from other certifying agencies is the depth of information we provide, as well as our philosophy which is derived from the midwifery model of care. We cover not only physical aspects of birth, but the emotional experiences of mom, partner, and baby. We are 100% committed to the students that we serve and will continue to support you in your journey to becoming a professional doula even after our classes come to a close.
Yes we do!
Required texts for our Postpartum Doula Training are:
Natural Health After Birth, Aviva Jill Romm
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, Jack Newman
The Baby Book, Sears and Sears

Our required texts for Labor Doula Training are:
Cornerstone Doula Trainings Lab Workbook, Nickie Tilsner
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, Sarah J. Buckley
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin
The Birth Book, Sears and Sears
The Birth Partner, Penny Simkin
The Doula Book, Klaus, Klaus, and Kennel
The Natural Pregnancy Book, Third Edition, Aviva Jill Romm
The Nurturing Touch at Birth: A Labor Support Handbook, Paulina G. Perez

We have further required reading for Labor Doula Certification:
Heart and Hands, Elizabeth Davis
Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, Ina May Gaskin
The Labor Progress Handbook, Penny Simkin
The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, Thomas Verney
Your Amazing Newborn, Marshall and Phyllis Klaus

We recommend purchasing most of these books on, where you can find them at very discounted prices.
The Labor Doula Training, Postpartum Doula Training and Placenta Specialist Workshop have no prerequisites and can be taken in whatever sequence you choose. The Optimal Fetal Positioning, Homebirth for Doulas, and Trauma Resolution workshops require that you have already attended a Labor Doula Training. It is okay for doulas who have trained elsewhere to attend any of our courses.
The classes range between $75-$550 depending on the course you choose. We also offer a certification package, where buying two required classes gets you one free. The certification package is $850.00. Using the option of taking each class at your own pace gives you the freedom to pay what you can when you can.
When registering online, you will be asked to pay a non-refundable deposit to hold your place in class. The remaining tuition will be due the first day of class. If you choose the certification package or extended mentorship options, full payment will be due immediately upon registration and is non-refundable.

Cornerstone classes require a deposit payment for each class registration, which is non refundable. We do, however offer the opportunity to use your deposit for a future class in the event that you miss class due to an emergency or attending a birth.
We do offer one full labor and postpartum certification scholarship per class cycle (every 3 months). These scholarships are for anyone with a special situation that cannot access doula training. Special consideration goes to POC and LGBT. To apply, please send a personal statement outlining need and any pertinent info to
Yes! We will travel to your town and abroad. If you are interested in hosting a Cornerstone Doula Training, please contact Nickie directly at (510) 501-7501. Phone calls are accepted Monday through Friday from 10am-6pm. Outside of these office hours, you can email Nickie at
Please contact Nickie directly by sending an email to or you can call her Monday through Friday from 10am-6pm at (510) 501-7501.

Cornerstone Doula Training (the “Company”) is committed to maintaining robust privacy protections for its users. Our Privacy Policy (“Privacy Policy”) is designed to help you understand how we collect, use and safeguard the information you provide to us and to assist you in making informed decisions when using our Service.
For purposes of this Agreement, “Service” refers to the Company’s service which can be accessed via our website at htttp:// in which users can purchase doula training courses. The terms “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to the Company. “You” refers to you, as a user of Service. By accepting our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use found above in FAQ, you consent to our collection, storage, use and disclosure of your personal information as described in this Privacy Policy.

We collect “Non-Personal Information” and “Personal Information.” Non-Personal Information includes information that cannot be used to personally identify you, such as anonymous usage data, general demographic information we may collect, referring/exit pages and URLs, platform types, preferences you submit and preferences that are generated based on the data you submit and number of clicks. Personal Information includes only your name, email, and payment information, which you submit to us through the registration process at the Site.

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Last Updated: This Privacy Policy was last updated on August 22, 2015.

There are many paths to midwifery including traditional homebirth midwifery training, as well as becoming a certified nurse midwife. Cornerstone offers traditional homebirth midwifery training unlike any other. We provide hands on and didactic skills that you need as an adjunct to your apprenticeship and midwifery distance training program. Gain the tools that you need to become a homebirth midwife. Learn more at
Dream of becoming a midwife? We now offer homebirth midwifery courses.