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 Katie Olliffe
Katie Olliffe
Verina Henchy
Developing Doula Course Leader Aimee Hamblyn
Aimee Hamblyn
Laura Stocks
Laura Stocks

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.

Katie Olliffe

Katie Fryer-Olliffe, Course Facilitator

Hi, my name is Katie Fryer-Olliffe and I’m a mother of 2, blended family mama to 3, wife to Rich and dog pack leader to 3 Labradors! 

I home schooled my 2 boys throughout their primary years, alongside making a successful career as a birth and postnatal doula and evidence-based sleep consultant.  

It seems almost impossible that I completed my doula preparation training with Maddie at Developing Doulas and attended my first birth back in 2012.  My own children were very young, 4 years and 2 years old.  

Back then, I had to hone my skills to answer *what is a doula – to almost every person I spoke to.  These days most people understand what it means to be a doula.  

Back at the beginning of my career there was such a thing as a thriving SureStart or Childrens Centre at the heart of most communities.  My local SureStart Centre invited me to attend all week 1s of their 6 week postnatal groups and that was the week where mother’s tended to share their birth experience.

Very early on in my doula career I noticed statistically the proportion of the group were experiencing sadness, disappointment and often trauma from their birth experiences and those that hadn’t- often had important insight to share but were too embarrassed to share after listening to such difficult and distressing stories.

It was from attending those postnatal sessions that inspired me and a colleague to host a regular meet for sharing positive birth.  This is where I was introduced to the wonderful Natalie Meddings and her amazing movement Tellmeagoodbirthstory.  At a similar time The Positive Birth Movement was also gaining momentum.  

So we hosted a monthly positive birth group called ‘Tell me a good birth story’ and we would always have a theme of discussion and someone who would share their positive birth and the preparation they had undertaken to achieve a positive experience.  We had thriving groups in our local community which also doubled up into often positive feeding stories too.  All of the woman and birthing people who shared their stories were given space to celebrate their successes and those that listened gleaned wisdom and supportive information.  I still hold firm that these types of ‘talking circle’ peer to peer spaces are the best way to receive woman and birthing person-centred antenatal education.  

In 2012/13 I trained with what was then BabyCalm and ToddlerCalm and now the CalmFamily community and became passionate about all evidence based parenting support – my area of passion being sleep and the correlation of adult sleep deprivation in early parenting and normal infant sleep (and how at odds we are as a society about both and how we might respond to it).  I’m still obsessive about understanding baby, toddler, children, and human brains!

Fast forward 8 years and I qualified to facilitate and teach doula preparation with my fantastic colleagues at Developing Doulas in 2020.  What an honour.  I passionately mentor and guide many new doulas every year and it’s my joy and heart work.  I am very passionate about supporting others to build a successful and sustainable doula business.  The DD prep course is way more than preparing to doula.  Life affirming, soul searching, validating. I’m still close friends with 2 of the women who attended the same prep course I attended.  Honoured to be their doulas at later times in their lives too.  

Apart from becoming a mother and marrying the love of my life – becoming a doula is the best thing I’ve ever done. The people I’ve met, the clients I’ve supported, the colleagues I work alongside.  I’m so lucky.  

The long births test you.  The short ones shock you.  The politics can drag you under.  The relentless balance and re-balancing of doing enough, caring for yourself and your own family enough. The privilege of being there when a new life emerges is still the greatest honour. Birth in all its formats is always a miracle.  The power of a woman’s body and mind. Being the holder of space for woman and birthing humans to believe in themselves as the baby they grew arrives earthside.  I still want to run up to random strangers after witnessing birth to say *do you know what just happened?

I’m moving more and more into specialist and more specific advocacy work in my working life, which doulaing underpins in every way. 

I am honoured to count my colleagues at Developing Doulas as my good friends. You are in good hands whichever facilitator you choose to guide you! 

Having a way of making the core of me, of my personality into an actual career and job has been the most wonderful honour and I can’t wait to see where the next 11 years take me…..

Welcome to the beginning of a potentially very, very awesome career! We can’t wait for you to join us! 

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. 

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.

Laura Stocks

Laura Stocks
Laura Stocks– Developing Doula Course Facilitator

I have been actively working as a Doula since 2016 and I am so hugely passionate about the work that I do. From supporting families in their pregnancy, at their birth or during their postpartum – I believe every woman deserves to feel empowered, in control & truly loved – and this is at the very core of all the work I do.

Before this I was working in London in a buzzy, social environment and even though there was so much fun to be had, I never felt like I’d found my place. But since doing my training as a Doula and fully immersing myself in the Doula community, I feel like I am truly seen & been on the biggest journey of discovery.

I was overjoyed to begin training for Developing Doulas in 2021 alongside Zara and I consider it to be such a privilege to hold space for others who are embarking on their Doula journey. I facilitate courses now from my home in a village outside Haslemere, sitting on the boundary of Surrey, Hampshire & Sussex. It’s such special course and they themes of the days are comfort & connection alongside the learning.

The work that I do is a huge passion of mine, but I’m also so passionate about supporting newer Doulas to set up sustainable businesses, to believe in their value and self worth.

I so look forward to you joining my cohort, where I can facilitate you the crazily exciting beginning of your Doula journey – Doulaing you all the way!

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