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yourdoulabag — Life of a Doula

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Doula: Not just a job 2

Have Ball, Will Travel - Doulas are ready! 0

 

Doulas have the skills and equipment necessary to support moms labor and are ready to do it anywhere.

In the photo above I am on the way to teach a private Lamaze childbirth education class to a couple who lives in my neighborhood.  I don't typically travel on my bike with my doula bag and birth ball, but if I needed to reach a client in labor via bicycle I would definitely make it work.  Doulas overcome all sorts of travel challenges and life obstacles in order to get to their clients in labor.  They live with the knowledge that at any moment they might have to interrupt their own lives and head off to a client in labor. Most of our lives are lived on call and we are ready to go at a moments notice.

One of the key skills doulas must posses is flexibility. No two clients are alike, no two births are alike.  Each labor is unique.  It is one of the things that makes the profession so exciting.   Doulas have the skills to support ALL types of moms in labor.  They support moms with various goals, hopes and dreams for birth.  They support moms of various cultures, educations and socioeconomic levels.  They support moms with various heath conditions, body types and ages.  They support moms with and without partners. 

I haven't met a doula that wasn't pushed out of her comfort zone while supporting a mom into labor.  The needs of the clients are top priority and meeting those needs might require more than we could ever imagine.  

Was there ever a time when you were pushed beyond your usual limits, sprung to action at a horribly inconvenient time or labored with a client in a unusual location. Please share! 

The unpredictable, crazy and wonderful life of a birth doula 1

 

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!

Your Mom must be a doula if... 18

Your Mom must be a doula if... 
  1. You actually know where babies come from AND how they get out
  2. You know what a uterus is and where it is located
  3. You know what a placenta is and what it does
  4. You have had a placenta in your house at some time in your life
  5. You are never quite sure if your mom will be anywhere at any certain time
  6. Your mom gets a call and leaves the house in the middle of the night, just like batman
  7. You know where she keeps her doula bag and know that you can find snacks inside
  8. You see a baby bottle in a storybook and make a comment about it being filled with pumped breast milk
  9. You know what breasts are for
  10. You see pregnant women in the grocery store and say "She needs a doula!"

It's more than a doula T-shirt 0

More than a doula tshirt 

 

My standard outfit for my birth doula work always includes a doula tshirt.  It probably won't surprise you that I own one of nearly every color that we have ever sold.  They say "DOULAS support your labor of love" and clearly identify me as a doula when I am at the hospital.

You might be surprised to know that these shirts aren't only worn for work and they arent just worn as part of my doula pride. I will often wear them when I know that I'll be exposed to people who might not be familiar with doulas.  My goal is to bring awareness to the profession.  If a cashier at the grocery store or someone in line at the post office sees my shirt and starts a conversation with me about doulas then I've met my goal.

We all do our part to get the word out about doulas and my doula tshirt is just one way to make this happen.

How do you spread the word about this profession? A button, a bumper sticker, a tshirt...

Are Doulas like Wonder Woman? 0

Are Doulas Like Wonder Woman

My husband placed this little Wonder Woman figure on the doula sign in my office.  He said that it made perfect sense. "A Doula is like Wonder Woman!"  This phrase really started me thinking.  Are we really like this powerful superhero?  I'll admit that many times I do feel like a superhero!  Those times when I suggest a position change and all of a sudden she feels the urge to push.  Or when I convince a cranky OB to permit a mom to get in the shower and it brings her great relief.  I do feel on par with the likes of Superman.

Of course, we all know who the true Wonder Woman is during labor, the birthing mom.  Our superpower is to do what we can to make sure she is the heroine.  We support her, lift her up, clear the path for her success.  My superhero knowledge is pretty limited, but doulas would ideally be the invisible heroine.  The superhero that works behind the scenes.  So much of what we do often goes unnoticed. We refill water cups, adjust the temperature of the room and cool washcloths when they get warm.   We keep track of bladders, heat up rice socks and put flip flops right below moms feet when she gets out of bed.  We offer partners the best chair, go hours without sleep and press on backs until our arms are about to fall off.

We might not be the true Wonder Woman in the birthing room, but I think we make a damn good sidekick!