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yourdoulabag — Life on Call

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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!

Birth Doula Life on Call 0

"As Long As I'm Not at a Birth" says the birth doula

Over and over again, just like a broken record I repeat this phrase.  Most of my village understands this statement, but they don't always like it.  Most days I am able to be where I need to be, do what I planned to do, fulfill my other life responsibilities.  BUT...there are definitely times when I disappear for 32 hours.  My village has to pick up the pieces of my life.  This task usually goes to my VERY supportive husband.  He is good about figuring it all out...dinner, childcare, kids, laundry etc.  I have a very good friend that is also very willing to help me out.  But even the most supportive friends and family can get tired of this phrase.  My solution is to take a long summer break from doula work.  This year I'm taking about 5 weeks off call.  This time is right around the corner and I think the whole village is excited.

 

Ready and Waiting 0

When on call there are quite a few things that I do to prepare:

1) Make sure doula bag is packed and ready to go.

2) Keep doula tshirt and scrubs in my doula bag.  This makes getting dressed super easy.

3) Make sure the car always has gas.

4) Line up childcare. This is usually done every single day.  Involves several people with lots of backup plans.

5) Have food in the house that my husband can quick fix into a meal for the family.

6) Keep phone charged.

7) Go to bed at a reasonable hour.

8) Limit alcohol to one drink a night.

9)Have cash on hand.

10) Alert clients/friends/family/school that I might cancel on all commitments at a moments notice.

 

[caption id="attachment_451" align="aligncenter" width="288" caption="Backpack hanging on a hook in my office, ready to go!"][/caption]