HEALTHCARE & NURSING

A day in the life of a Doula

A doula is: a person who gives support, help, and advice to a woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth.

A Doula is: a person who gives support and help to a woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth.

I’m on call everyday. So when a client hires me as their birth Doula, I’m on call from the 38-42nd weeks of their pregnancy. This means I might need to drop everything I’m doing because I have a birth.

What would be on your agenda for the day?

I could be giving a Ka Huna massage, meeting with a client, teaching a Pilates class. I could be at a birth. I work more than full-time hours but I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule. I work nights and weekends not just during the day in the week, so I don’t really have a typical day at all!

Let’s say a couple has approached you to be their Doula. What’s your first step?

People usually find me by my website or by word of mouth. I then meet them for an obligation free interview – a coffee – and catch up. If they’re going to be inviting me to their birth, it’s such an intimate time in their lives and I really want them to feel comfortable having me around. It’s an important thing to be able to build a connection and trust.

 What happens after you meet the couple?

If they want to hire me I send them a contract and they pay a deposit. I usually take a maximum of 3 birthing clients due per month. I also take additional post-partum clients – we call this “mothering the mother” and I can help with settling, breast-feeding, grocery shopping etc. So depending on if they’ve hired me as a birth Doula or post-partum it’s different. We then meet for sessions up to the birth and then they call me when they need me.

Do you ever feel a little bit scared by the responsibility or does it excite you?

I’m not medical at all so I don’t take any responsibility for the outcome of the birth. I work alongside their chosen midwife or obstetrician but I don’t take any of the medical responsibility. There’s a really clear distinction between what a medical professional does and what a Doula does.

I’m there to support and empower the couple to the best of my ability and I take a big bag of tools and tricks to help them. I am not scared at all by the responsibility, it’s actually a real honour and a privilege that people choose me to attend their birth and I don’t take that honour lightly. I really try my best to support my clients, build a connection and be there for them, no matter what.

At the end of the work day, how do you typically feel and why?

Well, a work day verses attending a birth are very different things but I am very privileged to be able to attend births with my clients. There are so few things in life where you really get to feel and explore something so beautiful. Whether a birth has gone really well or not so well, it’s still a raw emotion for me. I often leave the birth room, walk into the fresh air, and all this emotion just overcomes me – it can be quite overwhelming.

It’s such a special thing to be a part of. I feel excitement, I feel joy, I feel pain, I feel frustration, I feel every kind of emotion at almost every birth. I’m strong for my clients when I’m with them and it’s often when I leave that I get to absorb it all and let it out.

If you’re interested in Doulas, read about psychology, nursing and social work or studying allied health while you’re still in school.

Amanda Bernstein is a Sydney-based Doula, Ka Huna message therapist and Pilates instructor. You can check out Essential Me or follow her on Instagram and Facebook @essentialmeservices.

A day in the life of a Doula
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