A Doula is Born

World Doula Week runs 22 – 28 March each year.  It begins with World Doula Day on 22 March and this day was chosen as it is the Spring Equinox, which represents the return of fertility in many cultures.

This year, during World Doula Week I have received confirmation that I have passed the Aspiring Doulas training course which I completed with Kicki Hansard at BirthBliss Academy.  This means I may now register with the UK’s only accrediting body for Doulas, Doula UK, as a Mentored Doula while I work through their recognition process to become a Recognised Doula.  The timing of this feels magical.

The decision to work as a Doula is definitely the answering of a call to do this kind of work.  So, how did I know being a Doula was the right path for me?

I’m going to begin with my first labour and birth.  We didn’t have a Doula to support us through labour, birth or postnatally however in hindsight, I really do feel we would have benefitted from the presence of a Doula.

As you will be aware if you have read the blog I wrote about Hypnobirthing and Me, after my son was born I made the decision to train as a Hypnobirthing Practitioner so I could support other couples as they prepared to meet their babies.  Over time my desire to extend my support to labour and birth developed and grew.  I was also asked by many of the couples I worked with if I would attend the labour and birth of their baby.  As I wasn’t qualified and wasn’t registered with Doula UK I always declined as having the relevant training was important to me.

As many people reading this will know, we took most of 2017 away from our work as our Hypnobaby was nearing school age.  We decided to pursue a long held dream of ours and tour Europe in a campervan (it was actually a motorhome, I’m not sure how much fun it would have been in a campervan for such a long period of time).  When we returned to the UK, I spent the remainder of 2017 supporting our little one as he transitioned into school and spent some time reflecting on the new me I had become while I was away and what I wanted to do in respect of work. I realised the passion for my work had grown and as my little one was now in school I had more room in my life for continuing the work I had started.

The more I thought about becoming a doula, the more right it felt for me.  But I did have some doubts about my ability and so I decided to chat with some Doula friends of mine.  Each one lifted me up and encouraged me.  They all told me that I am already a Doula in spirit.  As I spoke with them my confidence and certainty that this work is for me grew. 

The evening before I applied for a Doula Course I sat down with a book, not just any book, I sat down with Maddie McMahon’s Why Doulas Matter (published by Pinter & Martin – publishers of some very awesome books about pregnancy, birth and life with an infant by the way) and I wasn’t far through the introduction when I read

"Many of us realise that we have been doulas all our lives.  Contrary to assumption, doulas have always been here.  We kept the wolf from the door when we birthed in caves; we probably came to that famous stable.
We have many names and none.  We are that woman in the village who always knows when your time is close.  We appear with food, love, warm water and strong arms.  We shepherd the children, call the midwife and hold the mother as she and her baby work together towards birth.  We are witch, godmother, wisewoman, sister.  The antecedent of the midwife; some of us learnt which herbs stop bleeding and how to help if a baby is stuck, or malpositioned.”

Those lines still bring tears to my eyes.  Those were the words that truly made me feel this is the work I am meant to do.  Those were the words that made me see that working as a Doula is where I am meant to be.  And so I decided it was time to answer the call and train to serve women and their partners through the perinatal period. 

Finding the right Doula Course is just as important as finding the right Doula to support you as a parent.  Kicki has written a blog around choosing the right Doula Course for you which you can access by clicking here.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I chose to attend Kicki’s Aspiring Doula course with BirthBliss Academy.  And so, in January I worked through my pre-course preparation module that Kicki sent out.  This included reflection on my own journey into motherhood, some research and a book review.  In February I spent the most amazing four days immersed in the oxytocin bubble that is a group of (aspiring) Doulas together.  Most of us stayed in the house where we did our learning together for the full course which was amazing, in fact we were disappointed to leave and I think it’s fair to say we all missed being together after the course had finished (those who stayed at the house and those who did't).  Following the course we had some post-course work to complete which included another book review, some reflection following the course and some business considerations.

So now I have passed, what next?  I now need to follow Doula UK’s process to register and become a Mentored Doula.  I can then begin working through their recognition process towards becoming a Recognised Doula.  I have chosen to work as both a Birth and a Postnatal Doula as I am passionate about supporting families through as much (or as little) of the whole of the perinatal period as they would like.

Whilst, yes, I am excited to be beginning this new part of my work (I will still be teaching Hypnobirthing too), I am also feeling humbled to be able to offer to honour and serve the families who reach out to me for support.

Helen Discombe