If a parent wanted to know how a doula prepares for a client’s birth, they could easily find lists of things they put in their “birth bags”, but unless they put asked an individual doula what she does in the weeks and days leading up to a birth, they would be hard pressed to find out. So here is an idea of the steps I take ahead of time, as a birth doula.
Prep work with the client. I meet with my clients and their partners to find out what they want from me, what they want from the experience, and address any fears or concerns they have about birth in general. This helps my clients, but it also helps me to individualize the care I give them.
Arrange for childcare. At this time, my husband is doing handyman-type work, and he is able to watch our kids when I get called, but most doulas have to find a babysitter to be available around the clock during the clients’ due month.
Research. My favorite book to read before a birth is The Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simpkin, but I do a lot of reading for each client to make sure they have all the information they need to make informed choices, and to get my mind in the game, so to speak.
Pack my birth bag. I include personal items, everything I need to stay clean and comfortable for a long shift, as well as my client’s chart, and comfort items for her.
Pray for her. I am a Christian, and I pray for each of my clients, that they will have a good birth experience, for safety and satisfaction, and that God will provide me with wisdom and intuition to provide my clients with the very best care I can give.
Try to get more sleep. I say try because getting a good night’s sleep with three little kids to care for is not easy, and there is almost always a project I want to work on in the evening, but I do attempt to rest up because if a client’s labor is long, I am then abe to think more clearly and be more relaxed for her. Since most of my clients don’t know when they will begin labor, it’s not like I can just rest up the day before!
Visualize. I advise my clients to visualize themselves giving birth because it is proven to make the actual experience easier, but I also do some visualization myself. I visualize my clients having normal births, and imagine how I would assist her if there was a complication or variation from average labors. This helps me to clear my mind of other things going on (even on the way to the birth!) and reminds me of all the things I can do to promote a good birth experience.
Keep my cell phone charged and at my side 24/7 from 36 weeks of pregnancy until the birth of the baby. I never know when I’ll get the call!
Once my client calls in early phase of labor I put my plans for childcare into action, finish packing my bag, eat, shower, and head over the client’s home or hospital when we feel it’s the right time.