Developing Doula Course Leaders

Who are our doula course leaders? What makes us equipped to lead a doula training course?

Developing Doula Founder Maddie McMahon
Maddie McMahon
Developing Doula Course Leader Zara de Candole
Zara de Candole
Developing Doula Course Leader Katie Olliffe
Katie Olliffe
Photo of Verina Henchy, one of the Developing Doula Course Leaders
Verina Henchy
Developing Doula Course Leader Aimee Hamblyn
Aimee Hamblyn

Maddie McMahon

Maddie McMahon Founder of Developing Doulas and doula trainer
Maddie – Doula, Course Leader and Founder of Developing Doulas

I can’t think of anything more important than the way we give birth and nurture our children.  Birth is the start of everything – the way we birth is the start of nurturing families and a healthy society.

I enjoy ‘doulaing the doulas’ – watching and nurturing women on their journey, whether that’s on the doula course or during the various study days I offer working doulas.

My doula journey has it’s roots in my own childhood, but started in earnest when I did Paramana doula course with Michel Odent in 2003. I’m a birth and postnatal doula, doula course leader, DD Specialist Companion and Registered ABM breastfeeding counsellor. I am a natural listener and fascinated by life’s transitions and therefore derive huge pleasure from supporting parents and doulas as they progress through their grand adventures.

Zara de Candole

It seems only yesterday that I was sitting with a group of diverse and wonderful women at Girton Village Hall in Cambridge awaiting the start of my doula preparation course with Maddie…

It was the start of a total immersion into the birth world and an ever increasing interest in the value of emotional and physical support during the childbirth year and beyond. I truly began to understand the incredible power that women supporting women can have and how this vital skill is being lost. The role of the doula is needed now more than ever before.

I remember being told that a Doula Preparation Course is something that all women should have access to in their lifetime. I agree. Whatever you take away – there is so much to gain. Watching women as they share their life stories and grow in confidence in the group. The incredible sense of togetherness.

Some will go on to doula and some will take away a new self – awareness and knowledge about themselves that has a positive impact on their future.

I am passionate about the role of the doula and all that we have to offer. It all starts right here! I am delighted to be part of the Developing Doulas team and look forward to welcoming you to my course.

Running alongside my doula work, which includes mentoring new doulas at the start of their journey with Doula UK, I really enjoy learning and organise lots of study days, workshops and events.

I am mother to two rather lovely young men (Henry, 1995 and Corry, 1997) and wife to Adrian, my husband who has supported me through thick and thin and then some!

In my spare time I love to walk miles with my dogs, read all sorts of books, cook, go the theatre and cinema and socialise. I love people and I love life!

Developing Doula Course Leader Zara de Candole
Zara de Candole – Developing Doula Course Facilitator

Katie Olliffe

Developing Doula Course Leader Katie Olliffe
Katie Olliffe – Developing Doula Course Facilitator

I am a mum to 2 gorgeous boys and step mum to 3 – they are the passion that drives me in life……..

Recognised CalmFamily Consultant supporting families with Sleep, Baby Calming, Toddler Behaviour and Introducing Solids since 2013.

Founder and facilitator of Positive Birth Movement, Cambridgeshire (supporting families to achieve positive birth through peer to peer support)

My passion is to support parents throughout pregnancy, birth and parenthood, and help guide on your unique pathway to parenthood. This all starts with the pregnancy and birth experience and I believe the importance of how we enter our parenting journey is key to how we move forward as mothers (and parents).

My role as Doula is to listen, support and guide. Not to judge or co-erce. This is your journey, and I will be there to hold your hand, to listen to your birth and parenting hopes and guide you to information to support your decision making.

I offer emotional and practical support during labour and those early days with your baby.

Most importantly my services are tailored to meet the needs of your unique family and your needs. My passion for positive birth and my excitement about your baby will be clear to see throughout your experience of working with me.

Recognised Birth Doula (studied with Developing Doula’s Feb/Mar 2012)

Recognised Postnatal DOula
CalmFamily Consultant (since 2013, running regular classes in South Cambs)

One of my key interests is Normal Infant Sleep Development – I provide parents with Sleep Consultations and Counselling and specialise in overnight support and parent sleep maintenance.

I have experience of supporting birth at home, hospital and birth centre. Supporting 1st, 2nd and 3rd time mums, supporting Vaginal Birth after Cesarean and Home Birth after Cesarean. Supporting birth in water and hypnobirthing mums.
I have supported 100s of families with Calming unsettled babies, infant sleep and introducing solids during the early days via CalmFamily.

Verina Henchy

My own doula journey has its roots in my own experiences through pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood and the love and support that I received during those years from a few wise women in my own community.  Even though I have long recognised that birthing and mothering my children is the most important thing that I’ve ever done in my life,  it took me many years to fully recognise my own calling and appreciate how much I wanted to support others to develop and grow through their own experiences of birth and motherhood. 

I have been actively doulaing for the past 9 years, having completed my own doula preparation course in 2010. I have worked with many families during this time and each one has been uniquely different, teaching me more and more about the importance of individualised and respectful care. What I have mostly learnt is that to be a doula is just that….a way of being…. and I truly believe that being with people as they journey through pregnancy, birth and beyond is one of the greatest privileges that life can offer.

I talked to Maddie about joining the DD family several years ago. Initially, I joined as a member and signed up to attend a course to ensure that my own development and practice was in line with the DD philosophy.  From day one of the five-day course, I knew that I had found my home! Maddie’s subsequent invitation to become a course facilitator has filled me with joy and trepidation in equal measures.  I stand on the shoulders of other amazing course leaders and have shadowed each and every one of them carefully.  Maddie, Zara, Katie and Aimee have all in turn inspired me throughout.  I have sat in on numerous sessions, both in person and on-line and have loved receiving the wisdom from all who have participated and contributed.  

What I have witnessed consistently is that if you can doula others, they in turn become doulas. I want all course participants to feel doulaed and to know what it feels like to be respectfully listened to, to be valued without judgement, to be truly seen, heard and loved. 

Once a doula, always a doula and that transformation is truly life changing.

Another DD facilitator has described me as the “Grandmother Elder of the team. Not the knitting, crocheting kind……She is the grandmother living in the forest, helping us to find the inner edge, the power of stepping into the unknown wisdom within.” 

I cannot wait to help you to discover your power, wisdom and inner edge. What we are co-creating is a community of people who truly get what it feels like to step into personal power and who in turn are driven to enable others to feel the same. 

Photo of Verina Henchy, one of the Developing Doula Course Leaders
Verina Henchy– Developing Doula Course Facilitator

Aimee Hamblyn

Developing Doula Course Leader Aimee Hamblyn
Aimee Hamblyn– Developing Doula Course Facilitator

I imagine that you have been brought to this page because you are passionate and fascinated by the power of birth and its potential for positive transformation, and you are considering a Developing Doulas training course!  My wish for you is that you find the Doula Preparation course that speaks to your heart wisdom and your gut wisdom, just like when you choose a doula!

My name is Aimee and I have been supporting families since 2010, initially as volunteer breast feeding supporter and post-natal massage therapist in the small town of Gibraltar and surrounding villages in Spain.  I trained as a birth and post-natal doula in 2012 and joined Doula UK in 2013.

For me, coming into the birth world was like a big sweet home-coming!  I love supporting birthing people and families during the 4th trimester. Community and Elder support were vital for me both in the beginning and now as I continue onwards on my birth-world journey. I have been so lucky to be held and supported by some fabulous and wise doulas,  including Maddie McMahon, and now the supportive sister-hood of the DD teachers community.

Which is why, I was just bowled over to be invited by Maddie to apply to become a DD facilitator at the end of 2019.  At the beginning of 2020 I sat in on my first DD course and LOVED it …. I met some amazing budding doulas and learnt so much from Maddie. I have really enjoyed sitting in on Zara and Maddie teaching the online programme and have taught my first sessions online.

For me Birth Work and doula-ing hit the sweet spot where the sacred and activism sit …. With a big dollop of personal transformation and healing thrown into the mix. Doulas are passionate about helping the world be a better place, and know the power of birth in this process.  We dedicate our lives in big and small ways to bringing love, gentle-power, and holding.

I support clients beyond my role as a birth and postnatal doula, from pre-conception right into the early years of parenting as a Mentor, Energy Healer & Body worker. I see my role as helping support my clients line up all dimensions of their being; physical, mental/emotional, spirit & soul to come into deeper self- awareness, authenticity and power. I feel deeply called to do this work, to nurture the nurturers of our community; who do so much, mostly unrecognized, by the wider society.

I have a blazing passion for social justice and love how the birth arena is one we as birth workers can really help bring social change. Women’s work of birthing and raising small humans is hugely diminished and undervalued in our current world, and we can really make a huge difference to the lives of birthing people and their babies.  Doulas can be the champions of women’s and birthing people’s rights, as well as championing the rights of babies to be born into peace and safety wherever possible.  I admire doulas and the birth world for embracing the importance of addressing social inequalities, and how they show up in the birth sphere, particularly (but not exclusively) for black and brown birthing people in this country.

I have one daughter, who has recently started secondary school.  I co-parent with my now ex-partner Gaby , so I parent in a queer-family context.  She was conceived by donor conception through IUI in London while we were living in Spain. In July 2020 we moved from London to Brighton, and we are very happy enjoying the downs, the woods and the beach!  I have a new partner, a lovely man, who is an important part of our family life!  The Sussex/Brighton doulas are really warm and friendly cuddle and I am very excited to be part of this doula community.

Other entertaining facts: I have one cat with a very short tail (dont ask!!); i love hummus and eat some most days; I have a ‘spiritual name’ which is Sri Laxmi – laxmi is the Hindu goddess of abundance, fertility and beauty!

I absolutely love facilitating doula training!  I love the connection and the inspiring conversations, I love to watch the participants unfurl during our time together, bathing in the warmth of our collective energy and presence. I look forward to meeting you.

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