A mentored doula is someone who has completed a Doula UK accredited preparation course and is working towards recognition through the Doula UK mentoring scheme.
The term ‘recognition’ is the same as becoming certified and shows that the doula has achieved a specific level of experience. Mentored doulas must support a wide variety of births if they want to become a recognised birth doula, as well as working with women after their baby’s birth in order to achieve postnatal doula recognition. As a doula trainer, I have helped hundreds of women begin their mentored doula careers and my heart sings every time one of them becomes recognised. It's a wonderful achievement and means that our doula community is growing.
Some pregnant women, when searching for a doula, often dismiss mentored doulas in favour of those with more experience. And I can't help but think that they might be missing out.
Here are the reasons why I believe a mentored doula is definitely worth considering:
They are more affordable
Brand new doulas usually charge a fraction of the price of more experienced doulas. This is because it’s a very good way to attract their elusive first clients. Mentored doulas will assess what the other doulas in the area are charging and with the help of their mentor, price themselves accordingly. What tends to happen is that as their experience increases, so does their fee.
I usually suggest that new doulas charge around £600 per birth, depending on where in the country they are working. I think it's really important that doulas don't give away their services for free, because regardless of their experience, they still spend a lot of time supporting their clients and adding a huge amount of value to their birthing experience and beyond. We know, statistically, that doula support has proven to make the birth and postnatal period more positive and enjoyable. That's what doulas do!
They are fresh out of doula school
When brand new doulas leave my course, they're usually on cloud nine; full of excitement and passion about what they've learnt and eager to apply this knowledge to supporting and informing women so that they may be more in control of birthing their babies and beyond. With over 17 years’ experience in the doula world, I can confidently say that the women who complete my course are more than ready to support pregnant women. I know they'll be the perfect doula for many women and couples out there. I always think that whoever is lucky enough to hire these fresh new doulas will benefit so much from their enthusiasm and positivity. This might not always last – so grab it while you can!
They are supported by a very experienced doula
Before their doula profile is activated on Doula UK, new doulas are required to find an approved mentor to guide them through a minimum of 4 births and 80 hours of postnatal work in order to attain recognition. Mentors must have supported over 20 births and worked 400 hours postnatally themselves to be able to step-up into this supportive role. That's a lot of doula experience! Although your doula's mentor won't be at your birth in person or come with you postnatally, they have guided their mentee through each stage of the process, and are always at the end of the phone, so they'll definitely be there in spirit! A mentored doula can usually ask their mentor about anything that they feel they need more support with or for additional information to share with their clients. When you engage the services of a mentored doula, you are actually getting two doulas for the price of one! Plus you’ll probably pay a lower fee, so it’s a win all around.
They may be more experienced than you think
Some mentored doulas may have been working in a doula capacity for many years, supporting friends and family members as they birth their babies, without even really knowing the role had a name. Others, are former midwives, antenatal teachers, hypnobirthing practitioners or have worked as doulas in other countries. There's even some who have been working professionally as doulas and have only now decided they'd like to become recognised by Doula UK. And as the vast majority of doulas are already mums themselves, they have at the very least, experienced their own births. Just because they're not yet officially recognised, doesn't mean that they don't already have plenty of wisdom and support to offer.
They are the right match for you
When searching for your doula, the most important thing is to find someone who you really connect with. After all, they're going to be sharing in one of the most intimate times of your life, so they have to be the right person. And what that looks and feels like is going to be different for everyone. Yes, experience is useful; it's where the learning happens and it’s definitely how we grow as doulas, but it's not the be all and end all. Some women look for a sisterly doula, others for a motherly doula and there are also the grandmother doulas out there. Women have been supporting women during the childbearing years ever since time began. Your job is to find the right one for you.
Kicki Hansard is a member of Doula UK, however any opinions expressed on this blog are personal views and not necessarily the view of Doula UK.