I'm a huge proponent of self care and I spend a great deal of time encouraging my expectant moms to engage in meaningful self care rituals. But what about us doulas? A doula's life never stops. We are on-call and anticipating that our day could change in an instant. If our mama goes into labor, our world stops on a dime to support her. That comes with a lot of pressure and stress.
As doulas we're oftentimes under scrutiny from medical staff of the birth we're attending. We have to inuitively know what a birthing mother needs. Cold pressure? Warm compress? Essential oils? A different kind of massage? Time for a position change? Not only that, but there's typically a room full of friends and family watching us as we navigate birth with our client. That's a lot to take on!
So what can we do to make sure we are taking care of us, along with our clients and our every day responsibilities?
- Eat nourishing, healthy foods. This small thing is so important and such a great act of self care. If we aren't taking care to eat healthy it spirals into bad moods, sickness, and sleepiness. We're no good to anyone in that state. Although the urge to down candy bars from the vending machine at a long birth is tempting... It's better to stock your doula bag with better alternatives like granola bars, jerky, and fruit.
- BATHS. I love baths. I go crazy with my self-care baths. Seriously, go nuts with it. Light candles, buy or make some fancy salts, (my favorite is Epsom salts and dried lavender) turn on some music, and soak the stress away. When we're on-call as doulas we can't travel to a far away luxurious spa, but we can bring the spa day to our own homes for a nice self care ritual.
- Get some fresh air every day. Make time in nature a priority. I personally feel myself getting very disregulated if I don't spend time outside every day. Away from noise, and artificial lights, and worries. It's so important that we as doulas find our center every day so that we in turn can help guide mothers to find theirs in birth.
- Read something other than pregnancy or birth related books. Pick up a book for pure pleasure and not information. I can get a little obsessed with staying up-to-date on the latest research so this is a big one for me. If I have time to read I feel pressure that I should be reading something birth work related. But there IS such a thing as too much of a good thing. We can't be all work all the time. Pick up that sci-fi novel you've been eyeing and give yourself permission to just enjoy.
- Write down positive affirmations for YOURSELF for your birth bag. I know my birth bag is loaded with affirmations for mom, but I need them too! Write down quotes that are meaningful to you. Anything that reminds you that you've got this.
- Declutter your work space. My books, papers, print-outs, notebooks, and gadgets pile up fast. Before I know it I'm digging under the piles for my laptop charger. I've read a lot of Feng Shui books that say your outward space symbolizes your inward state. While I don't know if that's entirely true for everyone, it can be true for me in my work space. If my desk is cluttered, my mind has a harder time focusing. Just a simple reorganization, adding a cute plant, buying some cute pens, can really help give me a fresh outlook.
- Spend intentional time with yourself. I'm an introvert, so time alone is vital to my sanity. But instead of my time alone being just my drive home or a shower, I like to make my time alone intentional. You should really be feeling fulfilled and rested after some alone time. A few nights a week, after the kids are in bed, I try to sit in silence, under dim lamp light in my living room, with a cup of hot tea in my favorite mug. This simple act can help me recharge. Adopt a self care ritual like this for yourself and make recharging at the end of every day a priority.
These are just a few self care routines I've adopted as a doula. Are you incorporating self care into your life as a birth worker? I hope these ideas inspire you to take some time for yourself. You deserve it and the ones in our lives deserve the best versions of us too!