Let me start by saying that just about every doula pitches a variety of contrasting services according to their training, other modalities they specialise in and their personal situation. So what I do in a day will be different to another practising doula.
Saying that however, if there were two common denominators in the life of a doula, they would be that the day is usually unpredictable and is mostly diverse. That’s what makes it exciting but also challenging at times. No two days are the same.
Traditionally a doula was a woman offering non-medical support and information to other women and their partners during birth and the postnatal period. Doula is a Greek word that came to mean ‘women’s servant’. In its correct translation, it means ‘slave’.
A birth and a postnatal doula is a support and information bank with the main objective to see families step through a major life transition positively, confidently and emotionally intact.
With that in mind a typical day would be filled with one or a collective of the following:
- Picking up a placenta or dropping off placenta pills
- Taking calls from clients pre or post birth
- Attending an interview for a potential doula job
- Talking to a client about their birthing options
- Guiding parents to be through a birth plan
- Being present at a labour/birth
- Attending an appointment with a client
- In-home pre or postnatal visit
- Offering baby sleep and settle information
- Provide coping strategies for new parents
- Listening to a mothers birth story so she can debrief
- Debriefing a birth I have attended
Visiting a client for a prenatal visit to prepare them for the arrival of their baby may include preparing a birth plan, talking about birthing options, discussing what I can offer during the labour and birth or simply listening to their fears and feelings as that comes up.
Postnatal visits can be delightful and usually start with a birth debrief, assisting new parents to go over the birth experience. I can help with breast or bottle-feeding; I can help with sleep and settling concerns or simply make a cup of tea, help prepare a meal or fold laundry if that’s what’s needed.
When I look at that list I think I must be nuts but it’s all about planning and being well organised. Of course, given the nature of the work, flexibility is key. Something my family, friends and work colleagues understand after all these years; I have been a doula for 20 years now. Some years, attending many births and others offering more postnatal support, placental encapsulation or one on one education. There have definitely been days, weeks and years that have been more full on than others.
Without sounding like a martyr the job can come with some sacrifice but I think I have one of the best jobs in the world.
I see it as a privilege every time I am invited to walk beside families as they journey into parenthood.
To be able to make a difference during one of life’s biggest transitions for people is simply divine. To see the look on the faces of new parents when the lay eyes on their baby for the very first time is a gift. I am blessed to be invited into their homes and lovingly assist where I can.
So, some of the days it might be hectic but when I step back and breathe, which I do regularly I duly note that the rewards far outweigh the challenges.
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