Journey to Being a Doula
Since the formation of our network, there has been much discussion amongst doulas and those who run doula courses on the issues of how long it should take to prepare a woman to be a doula. The simple answer to that is: forever!
Unfortunately, the word and concept of ‘training’ gives rise to the idea that to become a doula one gets trained and then has all the skills and instinct needed to work with parents at this vulnerable time of their lives. A ‘training’ implies completion and it is not useful to believe that a woman can attend a weekend or a three or five day workshop or course and believe that she is ready to be a doula with no further learning. This is where we need to tread carefully.
To be a doula is to be a traveller, to embark on a journey. Along the road the doula meets up with other travellers (the mothers she supports) and they both continue their life journey. The birth doula role in particular, we believe, is a way of ‘being’ not ‘doing’. Doulas are learners, they are explorers, they are guides, friends, sharers -- it goes on and on. Without an open approach to self-development and human growth, it is impossible to be available to help and empower others.
Top of the list for any doula education must be a deep concentration and focus on self-awareness, and any woman entering the profession is required to spend a lot of time reflecting.
That said, as doulas we recognise that it is essential that we are in some way or another seen to be regulated. It is useful for doulas themselves to come under the umbrella of a professional body and this is, after all, why the Doula UK community came into being.
Over a period of time in 2002/2003, we worked with the facilitators of the courses listed on our site at that time to introduce a ‘Recognition process’ for doulas in the UK, whereby they attain a certain level of experience as a doula in order to achieve a Recognised status by Doula UK.
This process came into effect in January 2004 and has evolved and improved since then.
After a new doula has completed her course work with one of Doula UK's Recognised courses, she then works with a personal Doula Mentor through a process that involves reflection and supplying documentation to support her experiences as a doula over a period of not less than 6 months and preferably not more than 2 years. This then leads to a formal assessment interview with the Doula Mentor before the doula herself is Recognised. A minimum of 4 birth and/or postnatal experience records are submitted for review by the Doula Mentor during the process.
A condition of Doula UK membership includes a commitment to life-long learning and continuing personal/professional development.
The doula courses listed on this site are ones that share the Philosophy and Core Curriculum of Doula UK. Periodically we work with other providers and assess their courses for inclusion so that we can provide details of a wide range of doula courses available in the UK.
The information in these pages is provided in good faith for those wishing to embark upon the journey to become a doula. My thanks to Pam Adams for permission to include some of her words above.
Head of Education and Mentoring