A Week in the Life of a Birthkeeper
A Week in the Life of A Birth Keeper It’s hard to choose a week to write about because each week is so different. So I just figured I’ll start with today and see how the week unfolds.
Day One This is my forth week on call for a birthing family. I spoke with my client on the phone today. They decided to book an induction for Friday, so we discussed logistics: timings for the day and the process of induction. After this I took some time to walk my dog before completing something that took five hours out of my day: First Aid Training, which included specific training for babies and children. This will support my Shamanic work. It is however, very useful for me as a Doula also.
I mentor Doulas new to the path through Doula UK and Conscious Birthing and so as part of my day I often communicate with one or more of my mentee’s, today it was just the one.
When on call I make sure to get an earlier night than I would otherwise. My phone stays switched on and close by on the bedside cabinet to be sure I won’t miss the call if it were to come. I have recently engaged with another family whose birth is due in two weeks.
When it is possible that births could be close together, in the same month or even over lap I like to be clear, open and ensure there is a backup Doula – just in case. Both myself and the back up would have spent time with the families getting to know each other.
Day Two School is into its second day. Again I awoke with the surprise of not having had the call in the night. Often, I have noted over time, families go into labour the day before the planned induction. So I was able to follow the regular morning routine: breakfast, school run and then walking the dog.
This is my fourth week of a Doula course created by friend and colleague Aimee Sri Laxmi: Sacred Birth - sacred activism.. I spent two hours on Zoom while Aimee worked her wonders on myself and fellow Doulas.
As I am entering into my seventh year as a Doula I am seeing the biggest insights into self. They are, of course, ourselves, the biggest barriers to our careers are ourselves. Not an item, but us, ourselves. Understanding our own worth, the hard work, constant ongoing training, the time we commit to be there for our clients. Ensuring the whole time our knowledge, understanding of our clients wishes, understanding their needs, taking time to discuss all of these things in great length to always be able to offer nothing but the best.
We are space holders, gate keepers, and much more. When engaging with a client we are then available for them anytime day or night – sometimes this can mean up to 6 weeks of waiting for the call. Then not leaving their side, supporting all the while. Doulas are empaths with big hearts, our business minds aren’t always as sharp as perhaps they should be. Because of this understanding our own worth can be difficult. We work from our hearts. What price do you put on that? It’s very different from any other working role. No regular hours, available 24/7.
Back to my day. The course with Aimee is invaluable. The time for self-care and refocusing is extremely beneficial for our work can be very draining as well as extremely uplifting.
This afternoon I spent an hour on a call with a Doula mentee answering questions regarding her own path. Right now I am writing up my day, ready to go to bed with my phone fully charged – just in case
. Day Three
6.30 am, my phone wakes me from my dreams. My client has called to say she feels she is in labour and would like me to come over. I shower and set off on my way. It took an hour to get there, the roads were busy with early rush hour traffic, so my usual 40 minutes drive took just over an hour. The moon was beautiful though, full, bright and setting to the west. Meanwhile the sun was ascending in the east. Casting so many beautiful colours across the sky. It was a stunning drive. I wished I could have taken a photo.
I accompanied my client to hospital. I am unable to share the birthing experience with you because, of course, confidentiality. But I can say the hospital staff were fab.
Despite two of my clients babies having decided on early morning arrivals this year, it is a rare occasion us Doulas get a call in the morning, support a birthing family and then are home in time for tea. Rare indeed! So a day that started as an induction support day ended with celebrating a beautiful spontaneous natural birth.
Not quite ended … On arriving home I checked my emails and text messages to find an offer for a new and exciting venture: Running ceremonies in one of my favourite places in England (as I am also a celebrant). Of course I emailed back accepting the offer. I have been asked to also offer talks on pregnancy, birth traditions and charms throughout history. I will write more on this as everything unfolds.
Woke once again by the usual burst through the door by my daughter “mum it’s morning, can we get up now?” Haha. This was the first day I wasn’t to be imminently on call and waking to hoping I hadn’t slept through a call or text. (Missing the call really is every Doulas nightmare). But I was awake with calm peaceful relief with the feeling from yesterday’s beautiful birth.
Midmorning my postpartum client called, we chatted and had a mini birth debrief. After this “debrief” she stated that it wouldn’t be necessary for me to visit her at home for her Postpartum Support after all. A Doula colleague and I exchanged support texts with a shared birth client who birthed in December. When it is necessary to arrange and plan shared clients, which is more often than not now, we set up and use WhatsApp. This creates a means for us all to communicate, for questions to be asked by our client. Offering a quick response and reassurance. We found it works well.
Today I made use of WhatsApp with a client I am currently on early “on call” with. A beautiful book arrived in the post today. It relates to my Celebrant work: Write That Eulogy, by Veronika Sophia Robinson. So as I wasn’t going on a home visit as expected I hunkered down with a cuppa and read my new book.
It’s Sunday. Time for admin for my / an online Pregnancy Circle next Friday. This will be accompanying the Shamanic Preparation for Birth Online Course I have written. Having decided to open the circle to people not on the course I realised I needed to spend some time marketing today. I typed up some more emails, including one to a client with details regarding the use of my birth pool - which included in my birth support package. Also included were details regarding additional items they will need to be sourcing themselves. Today has been a relatively quiet day as although I have been on call and I haven’t had any calls from any clients and or Doula mentees. I was free for the rest of the day.
After another crazy rushed school run followed by my mindful brain space dog walk, on returning home I caught up with the constant flow of WhatsApp messages from clients and colleagues.
I then joined a pretty inspiring webinair ( id call it my.cpd): The Four Gifts of Women, by The Helpers Mentoring Society. I have followed Sal Gencoreli – who set this up – for ten years. I first saw him on a visit to Lewes, East Sussex. Sal works on a bison farm and shares wisdom and teachings from Lakota traditions. Todays webinar is following the Gifts of Women, Intuition, Childbirth, Moontime and Feeding. (Obviously these vary woman to woman in manifestation and creation).
I thought I would share this quote from the course: “if women birth consciously they can change the world in one generation”
Grandma Judy (Sal’s mum)
I am still on call as a Postnatal Doula. My client had called asking me to leave my visit for today and come in a few weeks’ time. Unless of course, I am called and needed elsewhere to support a client through birth. I used the time to complete the webinar. It took two hours. Following this I met with a fellow Doula, friend and colleague. We had a catch up. Then together walked to a meeting with her lovely clients, of which I will be the back up Doula for the next month.
I returned home, checked my emails and made some phone calls regarding enquiries for ceremonies I had received.
Then went through my usual parenting stuff: Dinner and then bedtime for my youngest daughter.
Wrapped up the day with an hour attempting, and succeeding, to create Instagram videos for my role as Postnatal Doula for a five day Instagram challenge on Postnatal Doula Support. A challenge set by Younique Postnatal Doulas. You can see my first videos by clicking here
Day Seven Today was a day off as an on call Doula. I wasn’t due to call or speak with any of my clients. However, it became busy in other ways. I, • Typed up a testimonial for a Doula mentee. • Received a call from a Doula who wanted to enquire after my mentoring offerings but as a celebrant. • Continued my day 2 social media Instagram posts challenge. • Caught up with some tarot readings I do in exchange for “pay what you feel”. • Completed some admin for the Shamanic Healing Practitioner courses I am running with my friend and colleague Rosie.
So yes a day at home. But a busy day all the same. I am still on call. This means I am unable to go far from home or make any other big commitments that would need my full attention right now. Although I do always have a back up Doula, or shared work ideally, it means I can’t complicate life by booking lots of other work. My current paying clients always come first.