Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thoughts on being a traveling doula

As noted, I'm in Utah, awaiting the arrival of a friend's baby. This is the second or third time I've done this sort of thing in my life. It would have been a solid third except that the last one was a very sudden "they're inducing me tonight" throw-together-a-bag-and-hop-on-a-plane affair without the prenatal waiting period. Nevertheless, I've traveled out of state and time zone three times now in order to help prepare for and attend a birth.

It's interesting. It's very different, being on-site rather than just on-call. Your life is on-hold at a much deeper level, but I find the overall experience a bit more fulfilling, really, and I'm grateful that I'm at a place in my life where I have the opportunity to do this.

You're always available for consultation and advice, without even having to pick up the phone. This makes you invariably wish you'd brought your entire doula (and massage and herb and aromatherapy) library with you, which is--of course--impossible. You have to pare down what you bring to the essentials and pray your memory and/or Google don't fail you. You get to help shop, prepare food, run errands, clean, take care of older children if there are any... it's very much like postpartum work, jut earlier. And there's a lot of waiting and the daily questions.  "What shall we do today? What still needs to be prepared? What can we do to help nudge things along?  What will help ripen a cervix and encourage contractions?"

Then there's the parallel blogging, where we're sitting on opposite ends of the couch, typing in our blogs. Always fun.  :)
Rachel working on a blanket for baby Evelyn.

Things I've learned:
  • AAA is VERY useful to have, especially in winter, especially when with a pregnant lady.
  • Bacon sushi is a surprising revelation.  Tasty!
  • Basil essential oil smells surprisingly like licorice/anise/fennel.  It's also apparently quite and quickly effective on itchy bumps that might or might not be bites.
  • I need to write notes on EVERY oil in my doula kit and keep it somewhere close to it.
  • On the same note, Labor Lab is an invaluable book to have on hand.  Not quite comprehensive, but very useful as a reminder resource.
  • I should consider investing in less bulky "doula clothes" to keep in my bag so they don't take up so much space.
  • Spending at least 30-40 minutes per day sitting/bouncing/flexing on a birth ball can apparently help ease constipation.
  • I found even an informal, small Blessingway much more interesting and fulfilling to participate in than I've ever found a baby shower, and I think they should definitely become more common in our society.  (Granted, I was just an attendee and not the honoree, but it felt much more personal and like a rite of passage and initiation--as it should--than a giggly party with silly games and gifts.)
  • There are worse ways to spend a few weeks out of my life. :)

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage


  1. I've been thinking that what I really want to do is teach childbirth classes (independent/eclectic), but as part of that (maybe a package deal for those who want it) also throw a blessingway and/or do belly henna.
    I'm still debating on the doulaing side actually.

  2. The book I got to prep for Rachel's Blessingway mentioned doing group ones for a childbirth class and such. I really like that idea, everyone welcoming each other.