About Developing Doulas

The drive to teach and grow the Developing Doulas family comes from our passion to support new parents in a holistic, loving, non-judgemental manner. When people feel listened to and nurtured, when their choices are respected and babies are born and raised gently, by parents who feel strong and empowered, the world becomes a better place. Creating more doulas means more families supported on their amazing journey.

Choosing Developing Doulas might not be the fastest, easiest or cheapest route to becoming a doula. What we provide though, is a journey deep into who you are, a discovering of the doula that is already inside you and a safe environment in which to dump your baggage and blossom into your new role as a doula. We promise to love and nurture you through the process, never judge and to always be honest. We commit to giving as much of ourselves as we can to the process of providing you with practical and emotional support. In other words, we are your doulas!

Developing Doulas courses are run by me, Maddie McMahon. Zara de Candole also teaches the Developing Doulas course. In November 2017 were joined By Zoe Walsh. Zoe has now moved on to other things and we miss her! Katie joined us in 2019 and in 2020 by hugely experienced doulas Verina Henchy and Aimee Hamlyn. Between us we offer doula preparation courses in Surrey, Cambridge and hopefully in the near future London, Brighton, Peterborough and France! We also offer online courses. We sometimes travel to other areas of the country so please do ask us if you're interested in hosting a course.

Maddie McMahon Doula Trainer
Maddie set up Developing Doulas with Linda Quinn in 2007

The DD Mission

To encourage doulas to develop a generosity of spirit that allows them to put their clients’ needs above their own and a willingness to empower others at the expense of their own egos. To develop listening skills and set off on a journey of discovery and personal growth. To foster an attitude that encourages doulas to support each other just as they do their clients - unconditionally, without prejudice; working to create and foster safe and nurturing spaces for all. 

The Developing Doulas 7Cs

We are firmly committed to building a community in which doulas support doulas. We invite doulas to cooperate, collaborate and contribute, to connect and consolidate - always with compassion. The DD 7Cs!

The 7Cs are:

Spending time with others who really understand the day to day realities of being a doula is crucial. Community is about being doulaed by our doula-siblings and seen, validated and accepted. It is about being recognised by your community as a safe, effective and loving doula. Companionship from more experienced doulas in your community also means sometimes receiving loving constructive criticism if necessary. Working together and forging community means making a commitment to offer support and guidance to others. We aspire to call our doula siblings into the circle with radical compassion on issues such as race, gender and sexual identity, rather than ‘calling out’.

Achieving things is so much easier in a team! Whether we are working with the local midwifery team to ensure a client’s wishes are adhered to, or designing a project with other doulas to support vulnerable families, or just stepping aside to make sure a more appropriate doula supports these parents, cooperation is vital. Cooperative also implies a non-hierarchical way of working, without bosses or the kinds of egos that try to make others small in order to feel important. The cooperative model means we all have a vested interest in the success of our community.

Working shared care or backing a fellow doula up when she has a family emergency - doing this work together is more efficient and more fun. Competition is not part of the Developing Doulas ethos, not least because we have found over many years that a competitive business model does not suit this work and doesn’t tend to bring a doula more clients.


Your input is important. Whether you feel you are doing enormous things to change the world or doing hardly anything at all, your contribution is precious. At Developing Doulas we believe that doulas change the world, one family at a time - and tell the starfish story to illustrate what we mean! For us, contributing is something we can all do in small and large ways. Understanding the layers of injustice and discrimination that affect pregnant women and people is the basis of our work. Understanding contribution also encompasses knowing yourself and understanding when you need support in your turn or require rest and recuperation. Burned out or compassion fatigued doulas can’t contribute to changing the world!


Connection means our bonds with each other, locally, nationally and with our sibling-doulas worldwide. Seeking out and tending these connections ensures the doula community and individual doulas feel strong, safe and nurtured. There is always someone there to catch you when you fall, because they know you would do the same for them. At the heart of the word connection is a sense of being bonded together. Bonding is about mutual trust and trust comes from working and playing together and the oxytocin that is created when we share the highs and lows of this work. Connection also means being self aware. To strive to be connected to self; inwardly grounded in presence and awareness.

As DDs we commit to consolidating our learning. We are always curious and invested in widening and deepening our knowledge and skills - not to become experts, but because we are passionate about gathering in any knowledge that may be of use to our clients.


DDs have the biggest hearts. We meet each other in the same spirit we meet our clients - with positive regard and a genuine commitment to being non-judgemental. We understand that true compassion includes expending the energy to support each other, in good times and bad. It means accepting that our sister-doulas might point out our mistakes or areas for improvement sometimes, not to criticise, but because when we know better, we do better. We work in a non-hierarchical manner, understanding that doulas with much less experience may have wisdom to share and lessons to teach us. Compassion is love. Compassion is empathy and it instinctively understands that all of us have moments when our own emotions are tough and stop us being the best doulas we can be.

There are a few more C-words that help us be the best Developing Doulas we can be

The DD Extra C-words are:

Confidentiality, Candour, Complement, Conscientious, Creativity, Capacious, Confident, Calm, Choice, Control, Credit

Confidentiality - a cornerstone of our work. We commit to keeping our client's business as private as possible. We always seek permission and only share with enthusiastic consent unless we have a safeguarding concern.

Candour means openness, honesty, transparency. A commitment to being honest with ourselves as well as with others.

Complementary means that we complement midwifery, we never replace it. This word keeps us grounded in our boundaries. Likewise, when we work shared-care we strive to complement each other, never competing for the limelight.

Conscientious. We sweat the small stuff - striving to always do what we promised to the best of our ability, recognising when we are pushed to our limits and need to reach out for support and companionship.

Confidence. Most of us suffer from imposter syndrome or doubt ourselves sometimes or often. This is natural. But DDs strive to develop confidence in themselves, so we know when we are enough and when we need the support of other doulas. We work to believe we are enough - because our clients have chosen us and see in us the qualities they need to feel safe and nurtured.

Calm. We aspire to be the still centre for our clients. The pause between the breaths, the solid belief in their birthing and parenting abilities, the soft but strong rock in a crisis. We understand that from calm, comes oxytocin, and from that healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum becomes more likely.

Choice. Right at the heart of a Developing Doula’s philosophy is the belief that parents have the right to make informed decisions. And for that to be possible they need access to all their choices. We develop our understanding of our own choices: who we work with, when we work, how much we charge, what kind of doula we want to be.

Control: Developing Doulas know there are times when things are in a doula’s control and things that aren’t. We strive to develop the wisdom to know the difference. We work on supporting our clients to understand that on one level they have the right to have control over their childbirth experience; we teach them they have full body autonomy and the right to consent to, and to decline, medical intervention. Conversely, we also develop the skill of explaining that childbirth is a physiological event over which humans have no conscious control. All we can do is understand the basic ingredients required for our bodies to express themselves and what we can do to achieve and enhance a high-oxytocin environment. 

Credit: Developing Doulas respect each others' skills, knowledge, experiences and wisdom and when we learn from each other and share that with our clients, we give credit to those we have learnt from or who have helped us. [thanks to Justine Fieth for the idea for this C-word and the words to express it]

Dreaming of Being a Doula? 

Sign up for information, dates and top tips.