This blog is for new birth workers who are nervous about living the on-call life. Trust me, I was a new doula once too, and I was an anxious mess!
#1: My first tip, is to make sure you and your clients are on the same page- make sure they contact you when contractions start! This way, you can get your ducks in a row, can mentally prepare, and get as much rest as possible before you are called in to support. You can feel confident because you are there to support them over the phone or virtually whenever they need you. Early labor can last a while, sometimes days, so try to keep the peace in your own mind and body!
#2: Tip number two is, have your birth bag packed, ready to go, in your (full gassed) vehicle, and make sure if you have any children, babysitters are ready and willing to help you out. Remember, if your client reaches out saying they are having contractions, you SHOULD have enough time to do these things, but in my opinion it's better to be prepared in case she goes quickly. Plus, wouldn't you rather spend this time resting and spending time in nature or with your partner?
#3: Tip number three... always have some to-go meals for yourself in the freezer. It's really important to stay nourished during births- and hospital food is not the most nutritious. Some meals that I prepare for myself are: Curry dishes, high protein salads (usually prepare these when mom tells me she is in early labor), oatmeal or porridge, and then I make sure I have fruit and trail mix on hands for quick snacking. I also always have a fork and spoon in my birth bag. Most places will let you microwave your food- but it might make sense to check with the provider beforehand so that you can choose which meals to make.
#4: My fourth tip is to meditate! If you are new to meditation, I really suggest downloading the Headspace App on your phone, or listen to guided meditations on Youtube. Even if it's sitting quietly and focusing on your breath for five minutes a day, this can really help you calm your nervous system and access your adaptability. We support our clients in calming the mind in order to reduce fear, as doulas and birthworkers, we need to help ourselves with the same!
#5: When I was first starting this work, my first year of having on call periods was rough. I was edgy, couldn't sleep very well (this one hasn't really gone away), and doubt kept creeping in. Am I cut out for this work? What if something happens and I don't know how to support my client? Remember that you are a BADASS gatekeeper! You got into this field for a reason, and your services are appreciated greatly. Look at your reviews, and look through your intake forms to be prepared mentally. If you have to look in the mirror and repeat positive affirmations, DO IT. If you have to chat with other doulas in the area (I highly recommend having good back up, doula mentors, and friends who you can vent to and bounce ideas off of) to get some peace of mind, DO IT. If you have to run around your house a million times to burn off some steam and feel strong, DO IT.
Remember, practice makes better! The longer you do this work, the more comfortable you will become with the on-call life.