Becoming a doula

Becoming a doula and joining Doula UK

So you’re thinking of training to become a doula?


Becoming a doula can be a fulfilling and exciting journey and a great opportunity for personal development and learning. We hope that you meet lots of wonderful people along the way and enjoy developing your doula skills.

My own journey began at the birth of my friend’s son. Through this experience I began to realise the potential of loving support. I attended more and more births
over the next 10 years, learning all that I could along the way. One day I discovered that there was a name for my unusual occupation – a doula
(Suzanne, a doula)

We feel it’s often helpful to make clear that becoming a doula is a journey of growth and development. Completing a course is just your first step on this journey; because it’s only by working with clients, talking with your Mentor, meeting other doulas at study events and other meetings, both local and national, that we all continue to learn and develop our practice.

Doula UK is a network of doulas, set up to support each other at every stage of our development – both professionally and socially. Doulaing can be an isolating job, especially if you are the only doula on your ‘patch’

We have expanded in numbers exponentially in the last few years and Doula UK has grown as a result. We hope very much to support new members with love and care, just as we support new mothers. Doula UK provides all of us with the tools and support we need, so that the term ‘doula’ is held in high regard by all in the childbirth world. We hope you will become part of this vision and volunteer some of your time, if possible, to help Doula UK run smoothly and remain a fun organisation to be part of!

What Doulas Do

Doulas build a close relationship with their clients and provide continuous emotional and practical support, without making assumptions. In order to work in this way you need excellent listening skills and the time to debrief experiences around birth, be they your own or those of a professional nature. There will be opportunities to begin this process on your course.

Doula UK

  • Accredits training courses –  see the website if you haven’t chosen a training course as yet. If you need more information or help choosing a course, please contact Doula UK
  • Mentors doulas until completion of a number of jobs
  • Doulas are supervised and debrief regularly with their Mentor
  • We have a Code of Conduct and a philosophy statement.
  • We have to commit to ongoing professional development – for example, by expanding our knowledge and skills around childbirth and infant care.
  • We have an Access fund to help ensure that all women who want a doula have access to one.

The realities of Life as a Mentored Doula

Getting Started

When you have completed your initial course and joined Doula UK, the first step is to contact your Doula Mentor. The relationship with your Mentor is part of your on-going learning/training and regular contact with her to discuss and debrief from your experiences will be an invaluable opportunity for you to reflect on what happened with a particular client. You should find her emotional support and practical tips very reassuring.

When the relationship with your DM has begun, you can be listed on our Find A Doula pages and begin offering your services to clients.

IMany Mentored Doulas find it easy to get their first clients; for others, the process takes some time. If you are in a financial situation that makes it important that you have a dependable, steady income, it may be useful to take other, maybe part-time or flexible, work while you build your doula business.

Impact on your Life

Many doulas also find that without the complete support of their families, starting out can be hard. At first, jobs may be scarce and money tight. If you are working as a birth doula, your family also need to understand the unpredictable nature of the work – that you may need to disappear at fairly short notice; that you can’t say how long you will be gone and that you need to feel happy that they will cope in your absence, so you can focus 100% on your client. If you have small children, it is essential to have reliable, immediate childcare in place for when you are called to a birth.

Even after becoming recognised, most doulas do not make a huge income. Becoming a doula is a vocation and many of us could make much more money using skills learnt in our past lives! You may be doing your training as an add-on to an existing business, for example as a complementary therapist or alternative practitioner. Many of us offer other, mother-and-baby-relevant services and each aspect of our business can enhance the other.

Getting the Word Out

Most doulas would say that finding clients is a case of ‘what you put in is what you get out’. Marketing yourself in your local area, for example by networking and building relationships with other birthworkers, will pay dividends and we recommend that you glean as much information as you can about this aspect of your business on your preparation course, and ask your Mentor for guidance afterwards, if you feel you need it.

The Process of Becoming a Recognised DUK Doula

The most important relationship for me was with my Mentor.  We instantly clicked and I discovered that having a mentor, in my own experience, was an opportunity to assess myself, my choices, commitment, and sometimes fears. Like a doula’s doula, she stayed with me, helped me to discover my hidden strengths, face my fears and trust my instincts, she cared, and was there for me and that was very important. She didn’t tell me what to do; she shared information and gave me the space to find my own answers, which helped me to grow.”

Doula Mentors charge small fees because they are offering you their time and the benefit of their experience. Hopefully, you will feel fully supported by them, and learn and grow through the relationship you build together.

“The Recognition period is the time when you discover what being a doula really involves, as part of an organisation committed to birthing children as safely as possible. Rather like birth, it is nicer than doing it alone. Support is the key word, not because we are incapable of doing it alone, but because it is so much more rewarding to share our stories around birth, both as mothers and doulas.”

Most of us would agree that being a doula is a privilege and we gain immense satisfaction from working with our clients. We do hope that you, too, find fulfilment in your new role as a doula.

“I felt like a doula when I joined Doula UK. I still love pregnancy, birth and motherhood in the same way as before, but I am changed. I have given birth to a new confidence, and am proud to be finally recognised.”

Read also: