This winter has packed a powerful punch with snow, ice, and frigid temperatures for parts of the U.S. and Canada that hardly ever see this type of weather. What’s a doula to do? Support and availability to clients during the winter months can present unique challenges. Whether you are a veteran doula used to snow storms or a novice doula from the balmy South, here are some tips to help you stay safe, comfortable, and better able to serve your clients during the winter months:
1. Keep your gas tank full. This doesn’t mean you need top-off your tank daily, but keeping your car with a good amount of gas is a good first step in staying safe and warm. There’s nothing fun about having to stop for gas on your way to a birth on a freezing winter night. In the event you get stuck, you’ll have fuel to run your car’s heater.
2. Have an emergency kit in your car. Jumper cables or a battery starter, flashlight, blanket, warm socks and duct tape are good to have handy. Hand sanitizer or hand wipes, tissues or toilet paper, a car charger for your cell phone and a basic first aid kit can be helpful even in everyday situations. Store food, water and any medications that you need to take at least daily in your car as well. If you live in an area that has very cold temperatures, consider adding extras of these to your doula bag to keep them from freezing. Sand and a small shovel are also sometimes included in winter emergency kits.
3. Dress for the weather. Skipping the insulated boots and heavy coat can be tempting when planning to provide labor support in a warm hospital room for several hours or postpartum support in a client’s toasty home. Leave your winter weather gear in your car so you have it in case you need it and, as always, dress in layers so you can stay comfortable indoors and out.
4. Check-in with clients. If snow or ice is expected, be sure to reach out to your clients to discuss transportation options, how the weather might impact your availability, and help them be prepared for the storm.
5. Talk weather with your backup. A quick conversation about how you’ll stay in touch, travel considerations and what you need to communicate to clients can go a long way to create a smoother transition should weather become an issue later.
A little planning can keep you safe and supporting your doula clients in all weather. If you have any other winter weather tips for your fellow doulas, please feel free to add them in the comments. Share this article on your social networks to help others prepare for winter doula service. And most importantly, think spring!
Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA)