You are a birth doula and your client is ready for labor support. You are dressed, you have your bag and you are ready to leave. But wait! I have 5 things that I recommend that you do before you leave. Each of these steps only take a minute or two and can have a significant impact on your work.
1) Eat Something
It doesn’t matter what time of day you get the call. It could be 3am or 10pm. It could be just after you have had a meal or in the dead of night. I believe it is important to eat something before you go. If your client births quickly then you won’t have time for a snack later. If you client’s labor is long, then this will be the first snack that give you energy until you can make it to your next snack. I like to eat a peanut butter sandwich. It is a mix of protein and carbs that is a perfect combination for me. You might like yogurt, fruit, eggs, toast, a veggie packed smoothie. Just eat something.
2) Send an “I’m on my way” text
Right when you head out your door, send a text message to you clients that reads “I’m on my way”. This message is a great one to send for a few reasons. First, the message lets your clients know that you are in route to meet them. Because you are in route, you might not be able to answer text messages and they will know that calling is a better idea. Second, the message is a timestamp of your departure. The clients likely know about how long it will take to reach the destination. They have a good idea about when you will arrive. If there is a delay in your travel to them, they will know that it is out of your control.
3) Refresh the snacks in your bag
Snacks are one of the most important items a doula can pack in their bag. Most of use keep some snacks in there that can stay fresh for a long time. These might include granola or power bars, trail mix, and honey sticks. While these are staples, there might be a time to replace them. Pulling out a flattened granola bar after hours or work can be a little disappointing. Consider replacing some of those tired old snacks have lived in your bag too long. Adding some fresh food to your snack assortment before you leave is also great idea. Fresh fruit like bananas, apples and tangerines can be a welcome change to dry power bars. I love to pour some nuts into a container before I leave. I know they are fresh and packed with protein. Choose foods that are easy to eat and bring you energy and comfort.
4) Review your notes
Right before you head out to meet your clients is a great time to do a quick review of your notes. Look over what is a top priority for this client. How is she wanting to manage contractions? How does the partner want to be involved? Was there any important detail that you really needed to remember? I would take 3-5 minutes with this step. Even if you think you remember everything, it is helpful to just read what you wrote during your prenatal meetings. It is a good feeling to have their ideals top of mind as you are on your way to meet them.
5) Get your mind ready
I’m a huge believer in the power of a positive mindset. I think we should greet our clients with energy and positivity, but that might not be our default mindset when we are about to leave for a birth. I’ll admit that something I am thinking “why now? I want to sleep” or “this wasn’t the best time for me to get called, I have so much planned for today”. There have also been times early in my career that I felt super nervous and worried that might now know what to do. This worrying mind isn’t what my clients need!
If I find my mindset to not be where it should be, I have a few tricks that work for me. The first involves music. High energy and very loud music to be specific. I crank up a great high energy song to switch my mind into doula mode. If I taking uber to a birth, earbuds and a good playlist are the answer. Music might not be your thing. Maybe doing some quiet meditation or yoga stretches will have a similar effect. If you don’t know what will reset your mind, try out a few of these ideas to see what could work well for you. My second step is one that I highly recommend to every doula. Tell yourself that you will do your best and that just by showing up and doing your best that you will have a positive impact. This step is so important for calming the nerves and quieting the mind. If your mind is racing with doubts about your ability or concerns about how events will unfold, try to set your mind at ease. You will do your best and you meet the challenges ahead to the best of your ability.
If you have a repeat client that you assume will have a short labor you might be able to skip steps #1 and #3, but I don’t advise it. Each of these steps only take a few minutes and when a short labor turns into a multi-hour labor you will regret that you didn’t take the time to do these steps.
What are your must do tasks before you leave for a birth? Please share in the comments below.