You’ve done it! You’ve completed doula training, found your first clients, and life on call is about to begin. Have you thought about what you need to be ready to boogie out the door at any moment? The excitement of getting the “come now” call from a birthing person is even better when you know you’ve got your ducks in a row for your life to flow smoothly when the course of your day suddenly changes. Here are a few suggestions to make on-call life as easy as possible.
1) Know your go-to people. If you have to lift out of your daily routine to tend someone in labor, who will be there to do the things your family relies on you for? Have designated caregivers to handle school pick up and drop off, so that you aren’t scrambling at the last moment. Interview and lineup an on-call sitter ahead of time to come sleep on your couch when you get called in the middle of the night, if you have dependent children. Let your kids know the plan for when their parent isn’t home for a day. Knowing what to expect provides them peace of mind as well.
2) Let’s think about food! What’s for dinner? Do you know at 6am what your family will be eating that night if you are not there to provide it? Have at least one meal prepared ahead of time (with reheating instructions included) in the fridge or freezer, or cash stashed somewhere accessible if your sitter needs to order pizza.
3) Know what you’ll wear. A good rule of thumb is to own at last three sets of “birth clothes,” so that you can have one pair of pants in the laundry, one on your body, and one pair clean and ready to change into should you need them before laundry gets done again.
4) Keep a full tank of gas. Open gas stations can be hard to find at 3 AM and needing to stop on the way to a birth can be nerve-racking in and of itself. Make sure your car is ready for you to grab your keys and go.
5) Pack a birth bag for yourself. Just as we encourage our clients to think ahead about what they need for their birth time, do the same for yourself. Include a cell phone charger, an extra dose of any medication that you take on a daily basis, and money for the vending machine or cafeteria. Make sure that you have the basics that you need for your own self care for at least 12-24 hours. Some labors can be long.
6) Know who’s got your back! Having a backup doula ready to step in for each and every birth you attend is a necessary step in running a successful doula practice without losing your cool. Though you may have nothing on your radar that you think would stop you from getting out the door, life happens. Be ready, don’t wait until the last minute to get this important piece in place.
Now that you know that you’re ready to face the future come what may, enjoy the excitement of being on call, and happy birthing!
CLD, Labor Doula Faculty
Jodi Green has 16 years of experience as a birth and postpartum doula in South Jersey. Her “Preparing for Positive Birth” courses are offered at local hospitals, physician offices, and WIC facilities. In her free time, Jodi most enjoys spending time with her partner and their blended family. Find Jodi online at jodithedoula.com or on Twitter @jodithedoula.