I wanted to share some of my doula experience of being on call over Christmas. If your thinking of becoming a doula (drop developing doula's a message) please know you do not have to be an on call birth doula, but I love reading how others manage this so thought id share my recent experience.
Supporting these lovely clients due on Christmas day was a real joy, They have become more like my friends than clients. I was already enjoying being able to support and get to know these wonderful people antenatally, so when they asked me to be a birth doula for them I was honoured.
Part of being a birth doula means you are on call, nothing new here but I wanted to talk about how I've managed the period fully on call over Christmas & New year and being a busy mum of 3 (4 with dad).
Being on call for birth support during the Christmas period brings other types of dilemmas for me as a doula, what will I miss out on at home? No alcohol at all? Christmas dinner? The kids shows and trips to see Santa. The family parties and friends nights out? Just the getting everything ready to go and having a good back up plan is a little different during the Holidays.
As a birth doula I'm normally available for nearly 5 weeks for the clients (term is classed as 37 to 42 weeks +), all navigated by some extra prep, the cards were written, presents got wrapped earlier, making sure my hubby knew how to find them, organising by carefully adding things to the family calendar like where, when, tickets, booking information, emails for trips all sent over to him as well (you can tell who does all these type of things). Family and friends understanding I may not be able to attend something or have to leave early, Yes I'm the best person for a lift as I'm not drinking but also I may leave you all at the pub. I had my bag packed away in the boot some spare clothes, to swap from the sparkly Christmas outfit if needed, snack and a drink, oils and things for mum, deodorant, Jelly babies, spare socks, toothbrush to mention a just a few things. My boot is a mix on Christmas presents and cards, knitted boobs, dolls and hypnobirthing stuff!
The excitement of waiting for the phone call, knowing somewhere soon this new little person will be so warmly and lovingly welcomed by there parents. My sleep is no longer settled, I do love my fit bit watch (other watches available!) to tell me how rubbish my sleep patterns are, I hear the phone call in my sleep and wake with a jump to find it hadn't rang.
December is flying past, each activity goes by with my back up plan in place, things like going in separate cars just being organised and making sure my clients let me know if anything is going on, checking in helps them and me.
We can explore anything that comes up as well. Questions, worries, or just having someone to chat to, how they are feeling and what plans are being made for baby. Confirming the birth plan/wishes with the parents to be always help me know what they want and are expecting during birth. This can be useful for adapting the plans if needed.
I'm slowly ticking off my other clients visits before the xmas brake, clients are always told when I turn to the on call mode of care meaning I may have to move to leave a visit early or move sessions with little notice.
I have made a support network with my husband, grandparents and friends to know we may have to call on someone for some help with the kids.
I also work with another doula called Donna '@doulad' together we have collaborated to provide clients with the best of both of us and we can back each other up for birth work. Doula Magic was made to support this and showcase us, we have become good friends as well and think we are on the same page which is helps us collaboration well. Thanks to Donna I got to turn my phone off and watch panto with my family on Christmas eve.
Christmas day came, no signs so lunch was cooked, presents opened and I enjoyed a normal Christmas minus the drinks. I did prep my kids for the what if's, they had been asking questions mainly "will we be allowed to open the presents if your not here mummy?" and "will we still get lunch?". We also spoke about a 2nd Christmas day if I did miss it all, but my thought process was much more only around 3% of babies are born on the due date, most births don't happen super fast or involve you being there for 48 hours so surly I would be ok?
We didn't travel too far away from home and stayed local really, the kids have a lovely brake and off back to school they went.
I have a very supportive Husband who is defiantly helping me be able to provide the on call, he had some time off at Christmas and we plan around his work as well.
Working in the on call way isn't always easy having this thought in the back of your mind and making the back up plans and preparation can be a little stressful and overwhelming at times. I can defiantly say that supporting the family makes it all worth it. As for a Christmas on call its a special time of year to know that your going to support the journey to parenthood and this was charged at my normal rates, it's always your choice to take on work.
As for the Christmas day baby? Well we all waited some more.