SBD Chaplains

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SBD Chaplaincy is a specialized certificate course, relevant to any chaplain who desires a specialized skill set pertaining to perinatal demise.  This program was established as an advancement course for our certified birth & bereavement doulas, to address certain gaps of care in critical situations, to deepen education and involvement within the communities we serve, and to substantially reduce incident of delay or repeated support services for the families we serve, thereby enforcing a more holistic and uninterrupted level of care.  Feel welcome to compare the SBD Doula role to the SBD Chaplain role.  




Midwife of Thanatology: Honor, Empower, Respect



Becoming an SBD Chaplain means having a proficient study in thanatological midwiferya holistic (physical, emotional, social, psychospiritual) approach to dying and death.  This term is coined by stillbirthday, and reflects the advanced level even beyond our highly trained Birth & Bereavement Doulas, as the SBD Chaplains aquire a specialization in the care of the family and of the baby in specific regard to the farewell celebration of the family’s choosing.   Here is our list of SBD Chaplains or related content.

An SBD Chaplain knows how to mother the mourning.

 Ways You’ll Serve:

Spiritual Support After Loss:  As an SBD Chaplain, not only will you provide support in your community as an SBD doula, but you will serve in a volunteer capacity, your community emergency services departments, and/or midwives and families (including those who you weren’t already serving as an SBD doula yourself).

Homebirth/Midwifery Situations:  While there are hospital-based chaplains, your role is directly and immediately for the family and care team particularly in any out-of-hospital birth emergency, without delay.  You will establish yourself as a credible community resource to be contacted by your local emergency dispatchers, police, EMT or fire departments at received 911 calls in reference to emergency out of hospital birth, including neonatal and/or maternal demise.  You’ll be able to serve as a neutralizing presence in circumstances that include out-of-hospital provider negligence, abandonment or blame, by redirecting and establishing goals toward healing.  (*see more below)

Assisting with and Officiating Farewells:  You will be able to serve your community through funeral planning, with a special emphasis on home funeral planning.  You will be able to offer farewell service options to the family in accordance with state and local laws and the family’s desires.


*In regard to homebirth infant demise, we at stillbirthday recognize three primary homebirth loss situations.  In your role as SBD Chaplain, you may be called to any of these (explained below):

  • A.) Unexpected out-of-hospital birth, unexpected loss
  • B.) Planned homebirth, unexpected loss
  • C.) Planned out-of-hospital stillbirth

A.) In your community, this might include crisis situations such as a pregnant mother involved in a deadly traffic accident, domestic violence, or murder.  It is important you have a clear understanding of what your role as an emergency services chaplain, an SBD Chaplain, entails.

B.) Because planned homebirth for expected live outcomes is on the rise, point B above is also on the rise, even if it remains a very small demographic.  It is because it is a very small but rising demographic, that stillbirthday takes great care to note the potential for ambiguity and vast variability in how these losses are perceived and responded to, by families, loved ones, and care teams.  This ambiguity can contribute to great conflict as the family searches for answers (particularly online) and is met instead by horrendous and even dangerous levels of cruelty, both by people in support of planned homebirth, and against it.  These encounters can have a devastating and long lasting impact on families who are already deeply bereaved.  Your role is in having an immediate and gentle presence, including offering a safe place for the family to unpack and diffuse their emotions without any bias on your part whatsoever, and to gather strong resources and support around them (including for their emotional, spiritual and physical needs), to walk with them as they begin to grieve in a healthy and healing way.

C.) Here at stillbirthday, we support exploring the possibility of planned out-of-hospital stillbirth as a valid option for families.


What You’ll Learn:

In your SBD Chaplain training, you will receive resources for, and will be guided in expanding upon, the following subjects, and more:

  • Home or family directed funeral instructions
  • Right of Sepulcher
  • Statutes and codes for home funerals
  • Preparing the baby honorably for visitation
  • Instructions on filing, or getting support from others in filing, a Certificate of Death
  • Transportation and Repatriation
  • Green cemetary locations
  • Funeral officiate
  • Supporting your community as an emergency services chaplain with information from our Executive Team, Diversity Team and Prayer Team



How to Enroll:

  • Successful completion of the SBD doula program
  • Letter of intent for our records (narrative form, see below)
  • Successful completion of any emergency services chaplaincy or healthcare chaplaincy training program is highly recommended but not required
  • Ecclesiastical letter of recommendation on formal letterhead or
  • Professional letter of recommendation on formal letterhead (emailed to
  • Tuition (non-refundable)

Once Your Submissions are Complete:

  • You’ll join the chaplaincy training program via Stillbirthday University.  This is not a weekly structured program as the doula program is.  Rather, it is a compilation of resources that you will have at your disposal and will expand on and add to.   You have two months from the entrance date to complete your first draft of your 3 page resource report, and 6 months from your entrance date to successfully complete the chaplaincy program, which entails: turning in your final resource report, book review of Invisible Pregnancy and signed POS for SBD Chaplains.

Entrance dates are as follows:

  • January – June
  • July – December


  • For your final resource report, you’ll complete an extension of your doula community project, to include: a closer look at your regional groups of diversity (culture, religion, etc. and how you can serve these demographics through thanatological midwifery and chaplaincy), and, explain your local laws and the legal steps required, if any, following miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death as they pertain to transportation and repatriation information,  funeral planning and specifically to home or “green” funeral planning.  This should be a minimum 3 page report.  The training helps with this.
  • Book review of The Invisible Pregnancy specifically as it applies to eco-thanatology.
  • Book review of Ghost Belly specifically as it applies to the current challenges and support of birthing location options and outcomes.
  • Attending a  workshop is recommended
  • Signed agreement of the SBD principles of service both for doulas and for chaplains


  • Biannual (2 year) recertification is $40.  It requires verification of continued education of these subjects within each 2 year period:
    • thanatology
    • incorporating the spiritual and emotional dimensions of birth and/or bereavement
    • ethics of chaplaincy
    • self-care
    • providing religious/spiritual support and resources
    • diversity and dignity
    • institutional culture

Benefits of becoming an SBD Chaplain:

  • Continual Stillbirthday University features.
  • and more!

 {View our listing of SBD Chaplains!}


Things to Consider Regarding Becoming an SBD Chaplain:

  • Your role is invaluable – when you are called, you should be ready to serve.
  • Your role is humble – you should have an authentic heart to serve, a calling to have a real impact on your community.
  • You should expect to commit days of support for each family you serve, through comprehensive birth attendant support as an SBD doula, to hands-on thanatological midwifery support as you help them also plan and prepare their farewell.

Upon Successful Completion of the SBD Chaplaincy program, you will recieve:

You will receive a Certificate of Proficiency in Thanatological Midwifery confirming your credentialing and certification as an SBD Chaplain for the approved time period.

Every biannual recertification you will receive an updated certificate and your listing with stillbirthday will reflect your status.

Listing with stillbirthday – a certified green funeral home provider through the Green Burial Council

Approved text and logo to be added to your own website, marking your certification as an SBD Chaplain.

Exclusive access to savings on valuable items for your role.





Potential Benefits of Becoming an SBD Chaplain:

  • By advancing beyond the SBD Doula program and earning the SBD Chaplain credential, you provide uninterrupted support to families prior to birth, during the birth, the immediate postpartum, and through the farewell planning and celebration.  Funeral costs can be enormous.  Hiring an SBD Chaplain can save a family thousands of dollars, while equipping the family with the best tools and support for their birth, bereavement, and most personal and authentic farewell experiences.
  • By providing home or “green” funeral service options, you are allowing the family to navigate their grief journey as uninterrupted and as intentionally and as authentically as possible.
  • The opportunity to provide immediate support to families enduring the many complex and often misunderstood dynamics of emotional responses, in out-of-hospital birth.  You provide the most immediate and most impactful opportunity to guide parents to unpack any feelings they may have, including blame, guilt, denial or shame, in a safe environment.  Your unique position allows for these feelings to be diffused and processed in a healthy way.
  • The opportunity to provide immediate emotional and spiritual support to first responders, midwives, and others involved in any out-of-hospital birth emergency, and to provide immediate spiritual, emotional and physical support to families.
  • If you are interested, this role may be able to extend into becoming a hospital-based chaplain.
  • You may be requested to speak at pregnancy and infant loss funerals or in other ways may have the humbling honor to speak on behalf of babies and bereaved families.
  • You may be able to claim mileage in service on your taxes.
  • You may be able to establish a non-profit status around your chaplaincy program, or arrange a sliding scale for the families you serve as an SBD doula and/or chaplain.

SBD Chaplaincy scholarship

One applicant per training session may be awarded our Steve Butler full tuition scholarship.  Steve Butler is a bereaved grandfather, a mentor to fathers through our mentorship program, author, and advocate for birth & bereavement awareness and support.  To apply for the Steve Butler scholarship, indicate in the enrollment application below.


Enroll Here:

Click here for Tuition Completion

Enrollment Narrative






The SBD Chaplaincy program is endorsed by:

Heaven’s Gain

Steve Butler, Chaplain and Author

{Baby Caskets & More: all sizes}


{Baby Shroud: second trimester and older}

Bella Couche

{Baby Cocoon:  third trimester and older}

For Lora Designs

{Wool Infant Caskets: third trimester and older}



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