By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
I have been a birth doula for 15 years. Like many of you, I jumped right in after training and soon found myself fairly busy. At my prime, I would regularly attend as many as 45 plus births a year for my own clients and another handful as a backup. As my business, (and my body) matured, and I added other work responsibilities and skills to my practice, I needed to slow down so that I could continue to meet other work deadlines, such as writing this blog and training doulas and childbirth educators, among other things.
Currently, I typically attend approximately ten births a year, which feels mostly do-able. While I may not have a client within dates (37-42 weeks) every week of the year, I pretty much have at least a few pregnant clients on my calendar all the time. Should they need a doula, I would go unless I am out of town, and then I would send my backup, even if it is before 37 weeks. I get it- things happen. Especially with birth.
I recently supported my last clients on my docket and I am now completely off call. While I am still interviewing and beginning to book my small client load for 2019, I have not one client on the books. I am completely off call. No one will call me in the middle of the night. No one’s water will release. I will not help anyone to determine if “this is really it?”
I don’t have to end every plan with “unless at a birth.” I can spontaneously go out of town. I can stay up late binge-watching a favorite show, without worries that I might be called to a birth on no sleep. I don’t drink or use marijuana (which is legal in my home state) but if I did, I could enjoy them without worrying. I don’t have to be sure that I travel in my own car everywhere I go so I can leave quickly. I can let my phone battery run down. I don’t have to keep my lucky birth clothes clean and ready to wear. I can eat all the garlic I want!
There is such a true, sweet relief in being off call. I don’t even know how to find the words to describe it. It is an amazing state of mind: a sense of deep, complete, absolute and total relief. A new way of looking at the world. Everything is just a bit brighter and sharper. It feels very freeing.
I have an interview later today, and just like that, should these potential clients and I decide to work together, I may find myself back on call. But for the moment, for right now, I am off call and I am reveling in the sweet relief.
How do you handle the on-call life? Do you schedule in breaks so you have some downtime? How do you celebrate when you are off call? Let me know in the comments section below.
I am just wrapping up my first year as a doula, but I can totally relate. That feeling of being off call- hard to explain unless you know it. I enjoy ignoring my phone and replying to texts/calls/messages on my own sweet time especially after a long strenuous touch and go period.
Oh, I am there right now! Just had a birth Monday and then, off call. I’ve been a doula about as long as you Sharon and I’ve found I need more down time. I schedule some down time about every 2-3 months. I’m tring to add in small trips in between to refresh me. I still love birth, but it takes more recovery time now!
Oh that’s funny…I can relate. I’m actually on call at the moment for 3 different clients, so I’m doing the opposite of that. Cooking dinner last night I was eyeing up my garlic and thinking that I better not. Lol. So it is.
I’m new to this and starting to feel this stress of “unless at a birth”. It’s hard to plan trips or classes that may gave to be cancelled. I’m loving doula work but didn’t anticipate the new scheduling problems!
It’s magic: every time I order a steak, I get called in just as it’s ready.
Some of the things I do when I’m off-call – Visit out of town family, eat raw onions in my salad and garlic on everything, walk to the mailbox without my phone, go to bed at a later time, take a longer run & hit the trails on my bike, take my grandson to a movie, and keep the doula bag in the closet,
Just enjoying this feeling as well! Had my 3 last clients of the year 3 weeks ago! And now enjoying some sweet time going on vacation in one 1 for a whole month! Closed my first client for 2019
Last Tuesday! Felt great thou!! But I’m
Super happy to be off hahaha
Like you Carolann, I’m fairly new at this and was caught off guard with the scheduling. Just recently I scheduled a vacation 1 week after a client’s due date. She did not go on her due date and needless to say I did not enjoy my vacation. I’m currently on off call, but have 2 clients to do follow visits and one prospective client to interview. I’m doing paper work and planning my calendar for next year, in my “End of the year”, off call time.
After close to 20 years of being a birth doula, I have experienced this feeling of elation, relief, joy and gratitude of being off call many a time. In years past when taking as many as 5 clients in a month, I can still feel the power of turning my phone off and knowing an uninterrupted good night sleep was in store for me. I am taking many fewer cases these days, but that feeling is still as strong as it ever was. I love supporting women and never resent being called all hours of the day and night. I love supporting women in labor, and I absolutely love when I am “off call” too.
Eye opening article for someone like me who is just embarking in this new profession/calling. Thank you for your article.
After being on-call for the better part of the past 2.5 years – I birthed my third baby in mid-November. I officially went off call when my labour started and my backup attended my last booked client’s birth (my baby was 2 weeks early and my client’s was 2 weeks late). I’ve been on mat leave and enjoying all my time home with my darlings. My new baby has bad reflux and I’m getting no sleep —- but I’m so relaxed, not always having to worry about all those issues mentioned about being on-call. Working as a doula sure helps you appreciate the cost of being on-call. I think a lot of clients don’t realize how much it affects our lives.
My sister is pregnant and she wants to make sure that her delivery will be safe. It was explained here that a doula can be on call to help deliver a child. Furthermore, it’s recommended to hire professional doulas for quality service.