I started my life as a doula in 2012, and in 2020 I became a doula preparation course facilitator. I undertook both of those trainings with the wonderful Developing Doulas.
Every time I start to train a new cohort of enthusiastic and passionate new doulas I feel truly honoured to have these fantastic people under my wing. It feels much the same as when someone chooses you to be their doula and you are temporarily invited in to their family. It is an honour to learn about their hopes and dreams for their birth and postnatal space. The people who are yearning to become a doula are often unsure at first; it can all seem so overwhelming! But as we navigate together the wonderful world of birth and postnatal support, we often dig deep and share together so much and I love seeing their confidence grow. When members of my cohort eventually graduate and start to spread their wings, I genuinely can’t wait to see what they will get up to next and where this support work might take them. Its such an exciting time!
When I was looking into doula training, I did lots of research, and once I’d decided this was definitely something I wanted to explore I started to look for a doula course. For me it felt like fate when it turned out Maddie at Developing Doulas was offering doula training near me. Having two young children at the time, the location of the training made attendance really achievable for me. Exchanging emails and then a phone call with Maddie immediately sealed the deal. Straight away I felt at ease and it felt really wonderful that Maddie guided me through the conversation and agreed it sounded like becoming a doula was going to be an amazing next step for me. It also made me feel safe to know that Maddie was taking this care and attention when bringing our group together. I also knew Maddie was an experienced doula and couldn’t wait to hear about some of her experiences!
Attending Developing Doulas training was a profound and life changing experience for me for many reasons. That sounds like a cliché, however it is the absolute truth. Not only did I make really important connections with several people that were attending alongside me, this also lead on to amazing friendships. Years later, I was even invited to doula for one of my fellow trainee doulas at the birth of her daughter. What an amazing honour. It was also the beginning of a lifelong learning about me; who I am as a person, who I wanted to be as a mother and why I am so drawn to caring for and nurturing others. This course and how it was delivered by Maddie truly shaped me and the person I am today. It was so much more than birth and postnatal preparation.
When thinking about those who join us at Developing Doulas, this also got me thinking, what do people consider when they discover the world of doula support and start to look for the right preparation course for them? So I went to our wonderful community and asked them. This is what some of our lovely colleagues and DD Graduates said:-
Natalie Stoker says: “The reputation of the course leaders and their knowledge/experience was important to me. The course timing was also important as I was training while teaching so half term worked well for me. The ability to spread the cost helped and responsiveness to my queries when choosing”
Lucy Williamson says: “I think it’s such a community-related ‘thing’: word of mouth, geography, timing. I felt it was really comprehensive while honouring the fact that it was only the start – or the preparation – and it was a good springboard to continuing the doula journey and becoming the ‘type of doula’ you want to be (or perhaps already are). From an adult ed perspective, I think the way the courses are delivered is as important as what is taught during the course and DD was sound in this respect.”
Casey Scott says: “I knew nothing about Doulas or Doulaing when I did my course so it was defo a gut feeling thing. A big part was the two way interview process to be accepted on to the course. For me it meant there was a desire to have the right kind of people wanting to become Doulas and not just a money making machine”
Sian Young says: I did what I do best and acted on gut and impulse! I booked a call with Maddie, which I’m not gonna lie was terrifying for me, but I had a good feeling after that and I booked the course from there. It was important to me to train somewhere that I felt safe, relaxed and free of judgement, and where the training would be based on evidence. Much like birth. I would say to wannabe doulas: find other doulas nearby and chat to them about their views and who they trained with. We love a good chat!”
Luka Bradshaw says: “I looked at various courses through Doula U.K. There were lots that were far closer to where I lived but I loved how developing doulas spoke about developing the doula within you. It gave me such reassurance that I didn’t need to try to be someone else or offer things that didn’t align with me. I then had a call with Maddie and just knew I wanted to her to guide me on this path”
Tara Luke says: “I had been following three doula trainers for about a couple of years and there was just something about Maddie and DD I felt I aligned with. I would say it felt very similar to when I chose my own birth doula. I met her and she walked into my life before I needed her so I was able to get to know her and she got to know me. Then when I found out I was pregnant for the second time the stars aligned and she journeyed with me and I would never have chosen anyone else. I just knew she was meant to be there, just like I was meant to be a DD.”
Sam Gadsden says: “On our ‘So You Want To Be A Doula’ days I talk about gut instinct, reviewing social media, asking what follow on support there is”
Laura Stocks says: “Mine was the chat with Zara. I was so excited and eager to get on with my training and after some emails with Maddie, I knew I was on the right path and Zara totally sealed the deal. The fact the course was local to me was a big part as I had two young children… but honestly I just believe the stars were just all aligned for me”
Helen Fortes says: “The proximity and dates played a part, but the ethos and Maddie’s lovely calming voice in the first call definitely sealed the deal. I am very pleased with the decision”
Ariadna Santana says: “In my case I didn’t have any recommendations from anyone else so I just put ‘Doula course UK’ in Google and I checked a lot of different websites. Most of the time I couldn’t understand how it worked? I had no clue honestly and a lot of questions! Then I found Developing Doulas and I was curious about them. I was still looking for more information but their Web site was still in my brain. The most curious thing was that Maddie McMahon wants to call you before you accomplish the payment and I thought, wow that’s commitment. After her call I felt no doubt (which is something weird for me) and I was super excited. I found something that I loved. I still have a lot work to do but thanks to that course I found my passion. The Web page is important. In my opinion ‘requirements’ and ‘what you’ll study in the course’ must be clear from a student point of view. And please if you can say ‘you don’t have to be a mum’ somewhere, I spent years of my life thinking that was essential.”
Heather Wilkins says: “Personally, it was a recommendation from someone very special to me, followed by an incredibly validating conversation with Zara de Candole and then circumstances leading to training with Maddie, who I had already admired from afar through social media and her books”
Danielle Swanson says: “I knew a couple people who had trained with DD who had suggested I looked into it and I really like the idea of the community that it offered. After speaking to Maddie on the phone I just knew it was the right one for me!”
Becky Young says: “I picked mine cos it was down the road . . . what a stroke of luck that was!”
Ceci Goldaracena says: “I googled ‘Doula training in Cambridge Uk’ and I ended up watching Maddie’s video at midnight in my bed I woke up my husband and told him “I found the right place “ Maddie’s voice explaining what doulas are and do just made me feel at home. Next day I call her and confirmed what I felt before. A few weeks after that I was doing the course April 2016. Best thing I did!!”
Kat Louise Hassell says: “Online works well for me, I went for recommendations and looked at the course layout. I also liked the ethos of the people I knew used this service.”
Vicki Matthews says: “I looked at several options but most had something that I didn’t like. I compared several . DD ticked all my boxes and had a course at the time I wanted , not so far away. After talking to Maddie, it just felt right. I’m not really sure what called me to a doula course after being a doula for sometime. Maybe a lifetime of being a nurse and midwife , and the need to have a formality to hang things on ! Made me see that’s not necessary, that I can do it!”
Anne Charles says: “I did one of the intro to being a doula days but that solidified for me that it wouldn’t be possible. I really liked Maddie’s social media, so messaged her one day to say ‘I really like your social media, here’s all the reasons I can’t be a doula but your stuff is great’. Maddie said to phone her, informed me I was a doula in denial and I ended up on a hot floor in a hall in Girton!”
Meghann Horner Smith says: “I was at a breaking point in my ‘brainy job’ and knew something needed to change. I looked on Doula UK, and scanned through all the various providers. Some just didn’t fit me, in their tone/imagery/approach. DD felt right. It felt like me. And… the next course was ~60 mins away, and the following weekend. Its like the stars aligned. I also loved that Maddie offered / insisted on a chat before booking. I remembering having ‘talking point’ and notes and lists for that calls… none of which were used. Upon reflection – I love that I did a localish course. My doula sidekick sat beside me on that course, and continues to hold me as I navigate what Doulaing looks like for me.”
Mandy Mandy says: “I was recommended Maddie so strongly by someone that I trusted that I didn’t even look into any others. After our initial call there was clearly no need to. I trained again when I moved to California and just went with one of the big ones. It was much less personal, we actually sat in rows at desks like in a classroom and barely spoke to each other. There was talk of sisterhood and how we are there for each other but I didn’t feel it at all. It was less inward work and more about how to nail interviews, present ourselves, start a doula business, practical knowledge about the various interventions. We passed around a foetal heart rate monitor that goes in baby’s scalp during labour. This is all stuff you can learn online but what I learnt with Maddie was life changing. I had never sat in circle with women before, felt held, fully trusted and trusting. So all in all, what would I say with a wannabe doula? Just go with DD!”
So, If you are drawn to this wonderful world of birth and postnatal support and desire community and collaboration, I do hope some of the gorgeous shared wisdom above gives you some great ideas of how to choose the right course for you! Good Luck!!