Doulas attending births have a heavy job. They must hold space for the birthing mother and the family while utilizing their practical knowledge in unique settings. Every birth is different, and that provides a constant challenge for doulas. Most doulas are in perpetual contact with their clients before they need to arrive. This communication of possible early labor signs in the latter part of pregnancy, allows doulas to gauge when will be the best time to arrive. The following tips are an overview of how to ready yourself for your next birthing client as a doula.
1. Don’t turn the phone off, but don’t become obsessed.
As a doula, you know your biggest ball and chain, your phone. When you are on-call you must keep it close in case a client goes into labor or begins showing signs. The best way to be ready if you have an upcoming client is to personalize your notifications and ringers. Make a particular sound notification for messages and calls from your clients. You can even go as far to personalize for each client so you know who needs you before you reach for the phone. This allows you to put the phone down and still know if you need to jump to a client’s side or not worry about your family group text.
2. Make sure your bags are ready to go.
At all times, you need to have your bags ready to go as a doula. More specifically when you are on-call. If you have a busy day ahead and have upcoming clients, it is best to bring your doula bag - just in case. Have a change of clothes, things to freshen up, your snacks, birth accessories, and whatever else you bring to births. It is best to keep these items in a backpack so you can help your clients with both hands.
3. Take a shower and freshen up.
If a client starts showing signs of early labor, gauge the situation and freshen up. As the time gets closer for you to head out to a birth, taking a shower is necessary if you have the time. You may be gone for several days without the ability to shower. Also, birthing mothers have a strong sense of smell and it is best to enter the birthing space fresh to avoid causing her any discomfort.
4. Sneak a cat nap if you can.
It can be a challenge to rest if you know you have an upcoming birth. The nerves may set in and excitement can cause your mind to race. Try your best to stay calm because you need all the rest you can get ahead of time. If a client calls you in the middle of the night and it isn’t urgent, keep your phone turned up high but try to grab a few more Zs before showtime.
5. Review your client’s papers.
On your way to the birth, it is a good idea to review your given client’s paperwork. If you juggle multiple clients, this is super important. You want to make sure you have the correct information for each client such as allergies, preferences, past history and specific desires for the birth. It is a good idea to keep a note or file on your phone with this information to have it readily accessible at all times.
6. Eat a hearty meal, and pack snacks.
When you leave for a birth it is hard to know when your job will be done. There are back-to-back births and long births that can keep you away from home for potentially days. Hospital food is not the most healthy or filling, and finding the time to eat as a doula can be an even bigger challenge. Nip it in the bud by eating a hearty meal before you head out for a birth. Don’t forget to pack your healthy snacks ahead of time to avoid the dreaded apple sauce and vending machines for which hospitals are known.
7. Take a few deep breaths.
Above all, you need to show up to a birth with a clear mind. Leave your own worries on the other side of the door and be ready to enter the room for your clients. You are there to support, and properly preparing yourself ahead of time keeps you in the best state of mind to do so. Take a few breaths and find a peaceful center before you enter the birthing space.