An excerpt republished from the PALS Doulas Winter 2018 Newsletter
In this season of gratitude, I write this post while on call for yet another labor. I have been thinking about all those things that I am often grateful for in my birth doula practice and while working as a doula. Here are some things that I am extra grateful for in this season of thanks:
A daytime birth
We all know that doulas do not keep banker’s hours. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did! I am always especially thankful when supporting a family at birth does not require me to miss any sleep. As I have gotten older, I value those daytime births even more than I did when I was younger.
Clean, fresh underwear
Sounds silly, but some of those long births really can bring you down as you clock the long hours of supporting your client with few personal amenities for yourself. I am always grateful for an opportunity to put on some nice, clean underwear, wash my face, brush my teeth and grab a hearty snack when I have been providing lots of support. Not the same thing as going home for a rest, but these actions go a long way toward making me feel better about the long hours.
A supportive health care team
I am always so grateful and appreciative when the doctors, nurses, and midwives caring for my clients are respectful, kind, evidence-based and encourage shared decision-making. Even when things may not be going as my clients expected, having these qualities modeled by their providers really helps them feel so positive about their experience. As doulas, we know these things matter and we also know that not every birth has a supportive team.
A hands-on partner
I always say that some partners are coaches (10%), some are team players (80%) and some are witnesses (10%) and there is nothing wrong with any one of the three. It is just important to know what kind of partner your client has. But, as a doula, it is especially enjoyable when the partner wants to be really hands-on and my role really becomes all about supporting that dyad and making sure that they are working well together. Having a supportive partner who meets the laboring person’s needs during the birth is a great way to enter into parenthood!
A healthy baby
We know that babies are meant to be born, but sometimes the journey is a bit rough on them. I am always grateful when the baby is born smoothly and makes the transition to life on the outside without any hiccups. A healthy baby is always something to be thankful for.
A well-executed birth plan
Whether you are a new doula or a well-experienced doula, you know that flexibility on the part of the new family is very critical. Things may go as planned or they may not. Birth is nothing if not unpredictable. My heart hurts when my clients comment, even early on in the labor, that nothing has gone as planned and their entire birth plan is “already out the window.” One of my roles as a doula is to help my clients feel confident even when plans change and allow them to stay on stable footing when circumstances have shifted. But, when I get to attend a birth where things truly went as the parents intended and hoped, I really celebrate internally that they were able to have their wishes come true!
Babies that come one at a time
Any doula knows how critical it is to have several layers of doula backup for those unplanned situations when two babies decide to come at the same time. I respect and trust my backup to treat my clients just like I would, and I know my clients are in good hands, but I really love it when all the other babies wait until I can attend their birth! I cannot help but feel a connection to my client and really want to be “the doula” who attends their birth. I am so happy when all the other families stay “quiet” while I support one family at a time.
My adaptable family
15 years of attending births mean that my family (I am a single parent to two daughters, 18 and 21) has had to adapt, flex, and change plans on the fly without complaint. Well, almost without complaint. I appreciate their support as they are forced to attend events without me, miss me on holidays (and their birthdays), find rides when I am unable to drive, take care of the house and dog, leave early or arrive late to where they need to be, all in support of my unpredictable schedule. While it is easier now that they are grown(ish), they have always had my back on the home front no matter what their age.
My doula community
Finally, I want to express my gratitude for my local doula community, who professionally and ethically serve families while adhering to the PALS scope of practice. I appreciate that my community continues to learn and grow in the doula profession through conferences, continuing education, and self-learning. I am grateful that we treat our colleagues with respect, refer when we are unable to serve and share our wisdom and support selflessly with our peers. It is all of you who make me proud to be a part of this professional here in Puget Sound.
What would you add to this gratitude list? Have I missed something? Let me know what should be added.
Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA) BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE has been an active childbirth professional since 2004, teaching Lamaze classes and providing doula services through her private practice in Seattle. She is a birth doula trainer at the Simkin Center, Bastyr University. Sharon is also a trainer with Passion for Birth, a Lamaze-Accredited Childbirth Educator Program. In 2015, Sharon was awarded Lamaze International’s Media Award for promoting safe and healthy birth. She is very active in her community, serving in a variety of positions that promote maternal- infant health including blogging for DONA International and Lamaze International. Sharon enjoys active online engagement and facilitating discussion around best practice, current research and its practical application to community standards and actions by health care providers, and how that affects families in the childbearing year. Sharon has been an engaging speaker at international and local conferences on topics of interest to birth professionals and enjoys collaborating with others to share ideas and information that benefit birth professionals and families. In addition to hosting a monthly birth professional meetup open to all, Sharon offers advanced doula and childbirth educator trainings. To learn more about Sharon, you are invited to visit her website, SharonMuza.com.