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The unpredictable, crazy and wonderful life of a birth doula

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When I decided to leave the world of database programming and enter the field of doula work I never imagined how my life would change.  Life as a birth doula is so hard to describe.  Let me attempt to explain the profession by boiling it down to 3 words: unpredictable, crazy and wonderful.

un·pre·dict·a·ble 

  1. Difficult to foretell or foresee:

One adjective that describes all childbirth is unpredictable.  In this world which is so planned, controlled and scheduled this aspect of birth makes it quite unique.   Due to its unpredictability, doulas never really know when they will be working and therefore spend a lot of their time living life on call.  For a doula, life on call means living your life in a way that you can pick up and leave at a moment’s notice.  It involves a series of contingency plans and usually requires village of support who can step in when the doula is called to work.   Once at work, the amount of time required is also unpredictable.  It could be a 5 hour process or a 40 hour process.  There is really no way to reliably foresee.  

While the unpredictability of the job makes it challenging for sure it also makes it exciting.   Each birth involves different people, often different locations and different requirements.  The unpredictability definitely keeps away boredom!

crazy 

adj-zier or -ziest

  1. insane
  2. fantastic; strange; ridiculous
  3. (postpositive; foll by about or over) extremely fond (of)
  4. very good or excellent

While the first definition listed for crazy doesn’t apply, #2 (fantastic, strange, ridiculous) definitely describes life as a doula.  How else would you describe staying up for hours on end and then deciding to turn a hospital bathtub into your bedridiculous…crazy!   Spending hours fanning a mom while making low ‘ooohs and aaahs’ with her is a bit strange…crazy.  Helping a mom switch positions which results in her baby descending, crowning and birthing in minutes is surely fantastic…crazy.

What birth doulas actually do at work probably seems crazy to most people.  We do what needs to be done and doulas are usually pretty open to doing whatever will help.   We are a blank slate, a clean page, we are ready and willing to do whatever we can even it might be crazy.

won·der·ful  

  1. Capable of eliciting wonder; astonishing
  2. Admirable; excellent: 

Witnessing a woman labor and birth a child can definitely be described as wonderful.  I am often in wonder at the power and strength of a woman in labor.  The process of labor and birth itself is excellent…wonderful.

The way I feel being a doula can surely be described as wonderful. Receiving a thank you note from a client that says “I don’t have words for how powerful and empowering it was to have my desired birth experience.” is absolutely excellent…wonderful. Knowing that you have made a positive impact on the lives of others during such an important life event is wonderful.

 

It’s not your typical 9 to 5 job by any means, but the fact that it is unpredictable, crazy and wonderful is why I think it is the best job ever.

 

**thanks to my awesome 2 time client for letting me use this beautiful photo of her daughter!

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  • Alice Turner
Comments 1
  • Jessica M. Hinds
    Jessica M. Hinds

    Amen, my dear. Amen! A career that I call my life’s work since career doesn’t seem to encompass the beauty and sanctity of our work. How incredible it is to support women through such a life enhancing, life producing process! I feel privileged and honored to be a doula.

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