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Siobhán Ridley: Recognised Doula

Siobhan Ridley

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In early 2017 I embarked upon one of the most life changing weekends of my life. As I stepped into the doula circle, I had no idea how this experience would affect me. How could I fathom the ways in which my new doula mother Maddie McMahon would guide me gently, lovingly and protectively through the noise of my own ego, the shadows of my own experiences and eggshell layers of my own protective barriers. I cried, I laughed, I reflected, I connected deeply. And I learnt so much about pregnancy, birth, motherhood and so much about what it is to travel that path as a birthing person and as a companion.

Doula training is pretty unique and it certainly doesn’t end as soon as you’ve left the ‘learning days’ and completed the coursework. You continue to learn with every client, every interaction with mothers and every time you engage in discussion with other birth workers.

There are several routes to becoming a doula, but my personal choice was to follow a path leading me to Doula UK. This is organisation is a not-for-profit membership association of some 700+ doulas around the UK and they have a list of ‘approved’ doula trainers and a mentorship programme. Upon completing my course I set about finding a Doula UK mentor and began the mentorship process, which essentially provided me with an experienced doula who would walk with me through my first few births. She encouraged my reflective practice and personal and professional growth. She signposted me to knowledge and additional training, and was there to lift me up when I felt that the task was too heavy for me or the obstacles were too great.

I am proud to share that on April 1st 2019 I graduated from ‘Mentored doula’ to ‘Recognised doula’. But what exactly does that mean?

What is the difference between a mentored doula and a recognised doula?

Mentored Doulas

A mentored doula has completed their training course with an approved provider, been taken on by a mentor and is working through gaining sufficient experience to become recognised. A mentored birth doula needs to have supported, documented and debriefed a minimum of four births before they are able to become registered. However, they may well have more experience than this as they may have doula’d prior to embarking upon the mentorship process or they may be only submitting some of the births they support (this is what I did as I loved having my amazing mentor in my life and cheekily wanted to prolong that support!).

Recognised Doulas

A Recognised Doula has been evaluated by a Doula UK Doula Mentor as having sufficient experience to practise without on-going mentoring. They will continue to be supported by Doula UK and must adhere to the codes of conduct and agree to continuing professional development.

I am excited to have received my Recognition status and am hugely grateful to the families I have supported thus far but particularly to those who have taken the time and effort to submit valuable feedback to my doula mentor. I am also so grateful to my mentor and the doula community who continue to inspire me every day and from whom I have learnt so much.

This year I have also become the Doula UK representative for Norfolk - a voluntary post to promote doulas within Norfolk and provide support to my wonderful local doula sisters. I am super proud to become a more active member of Doula UK and to be part of the change I wish to see in the birthing world.

Click HERE to learn more about my doula services.

Click HERE for more information about Doula UK and hiring a doula.

Click HERE to discover Norfolk’s cuddle of doulas.