A Day in the Life of a Doula

A day in the life of a doula

It’s 4am when the phone rings and you assume it’s the alarm. Wait, the alarm clock? The fire alarm? Your mind is moving fast. Shit, the smoke detector needs batteries… What’s today? That’s when you realize… Your phone is ringing. You grab it quickly and slip out of bed and into the bathroom as to not wake your husband. With a soft hello, you are greeted by Danielle, your client who is 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant.

Danielle: Hi, I know it’s early and I’m so sorry to wake you but I think I might be in labor.

Doula: You are no bother! I am so excited to hear from you. Tell me what’s going on.

Danielle: Well it started about an hour ago. I was sleeping and I started feeling weird. Like, kind of crampy, you know? And then I went to the bathroom. Like… “to the bathroom.”

Doula: Do you normally “go to the bathroom” at 4am?

Danielle: No, it was really strange. And it wasn’t normal. Do you think I’m getting a stomach bug?

Doula: Actually, soft stool and the campiness you described can be early signs of labor. Danielle! I think your body is gearing up to have a baby!

Danielle: Oh my gosh, I’m so excited. I’m gonna tell my husband to stay home today.

Doula: That sounds like a great idea. Let’s stay in touch throughout the day. You call me as things change or any time you want to hear my voice, ok? 

Danielle: Sounds great, I’ll speak to you soon!

 4:20am

It’s officially, a day in the life of a doula. Your mind is racing. All the shit you put off until today is now piled on top of all of the shit that you needed to do today and now, you’re probably not going to be able to do any of it….

Who will pick up the kids after school? After school?!?! You’ll have to disappoint your son by canceling his play date. You’ll have to call your co-leader and tell her she’s on her own for the Girl Scout meeting. Then there’s your doctor’s appointment at 1:00. And… Back to School Night at 7pm… You should be sleeping, but you also know that that’s a joke. You couldn’t get back to sleep right now if you tried…

5:10am

You’re in the kitchen about take that first sip of coffee when the phone rings. It’s Danielle.

Danielle: Hi, something weird just happened and I’m a little freaked out.

Doula: What’s going on?

Danielle: Well, I was peeing and when I wiped, it felt real slippery so I looked at the tissue and there was like a clump of this slimy stuff that had like brownish/reddish blood in it.

Doula: Danielle! More signs of labor! That’s your mucus plug. Your body is doing everything I would expect it to do right now! Take a breath, girl! Everything is fine.

6:30am 

You hop in the shower and get ready for the day. Yoga pants, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt. Hair in a ponytail. A little mascara. It’s a day in the life of a doula and you are ready to seize the day! You wake your kids, they get dressed and you meet them down in the kitchen.

That’s when you hit them with, “I have a client in early labor and I’m going to have to go to a birth later.” They know what that means. They know this impacts them and their activities. They know that dad is cool but dad is not you and they like having you around. But they are also excited. They love that you help people have babies. They are proud of the work that you do and they know that your client needs you today.

Seth: Can Samuel still come over today?

Doula/Mom: We’ll have to reschedule that for another day…

Skylar: Do we still have Girl Scouts today?

Doula/Mom: Yes, Mrs. Davidson will run the meeting and drive you home after.

Kids: Are you going to be at Back to School Night tonight?!?!?!

Doula/Mom: I really hope so you guys. I would hate to miss it…

Kids: You missed it last year too, mom….

8:15am

You drive the kids to school and run back home. You check your phone for the millionth time to be sure the ringer is on and that it’s working properly. You don’t want to miss a call from Danielle. You make a second cup of coffee and check your email. There have been 2 new contact request forms filled out on your website! That means there are 2 new potential clients waiting to hear from you. The next email is the confirmation email from the dog groomer!!!!! The dog groomer?!?! Daisy has to be there at 9:30! You confirm and magically make that happen.

11:30am

You’re running the folded laundry upstairs when you hear the phone ring and race back down. It’s Danielle.

Danielle: Hi, nothing is happening but I just wanted to check in.

Doula: Ok, that’s great. How are you feeling?

Danielle: Well honestly, I’m nervous. I feel scared. I mean, not scared. More like anxious.

Doula: I totally understand, Danielle. I think it’s pretty normal to feel how you’re feeling. Are you feeling anxious about what is happening right now or about what you anticipate happening later?

This phone call where you are providing emotional support continues for about 45 minutes until Danielle is feeling more confident about things. She is really appreciative and is going to try to rest for a while.

3:00pm

Seth comes home from school, without his friend Samuel and is disappointed to see that you are still home. He doesn’t really understand why his play date had to get canceled and you didn’t even go to the birth yet…

Feeling guilty, you excitedly say, “Jump in the car! We’re going for ice cream! Just me and you!” You get to the ice cream shop and order your treats. A double scoop for each of you, loaded with sprinkles. You sit down at a little round table for two and your phone rings. It’s Danielle…

Danielle: Hi, it’s me again. How will I know when my water breaks?

Doula: Do you think it has?

Danielle: No, I’m just a little worried that I won’t know if it does and I remember that once it does, I can get an infection, right?

You and Seth both know that this phone call isn’t ending any time soon. You both know that this is a day in the life of a doula and this is not the fun part…

The mother/son date ends at the same time the phone call does and you feel like the worst mom on the planet. You get home and he asks you to play a game with him. You would love to, but it dawns on you that you never called the two potential clients who inquired about your services!!!!!

5:30pm

You call the two new inquiries and leave messages and follow up with emails. Next call, the pizzeria. You order a large pizza, a salad with grilled chicken and a side of mozzarella sticks. A half hour later, your husband is home and your family of four is having dinner together. Everything is right in the world! Homework is completed and is followed by a little tv time together. The kids are in bed by 8:30. You’re exhausted and you haven’t even gotten called to the birth yet. You snuggle up with your husband and doze off on the couch.

11:30pm

Phone rings. It’s Danielle.

Danielle: Hi, I’m sorry it’s so late. I’ve been having more cramps and I just wanted to check in.

Doula: Great, I’m glad you did. Tell me about these cramps.

Danielle: Well, they are happening about every 15 – 20 minutes and they feel like a tightening in my belly. They’re a little achy in my back too.

Doula: Good. Can you rest during them or are they causing you too much discomfort?

Danielle: No, I can rest. I just notice when they start. Should I be timing them?

Doula: I think its best that you try to get as much rest as possible so that you have more energy when you need it later.

Danielle: Maybe I’ll take a shower and go to bed.

Doula: That’s a great idea! I’ll do the same.

You take a shower, brush your teeth and put on your pajamas. You know you’ll be getting a call during the night from Danielle so you lay out a clean pair of yoga pants, a fresh t-shirt, and your favorite doula sweatshirt. Your husband comes upstairs and the two of you fall into bed together. You’re just about asleep when you grab that phone from your nightstand one last time to check that the ringer is in fact on.

6:30am

You hear an alarm… It’s your alarm clock and it’s time to wake up.

No Danielle?

Did I miss her call?

Did she not call me?

Should I call her?

I don’t want to wake her but I NEED to know what’s going on!!!

Your mind races for the next hour with all of the possibilities.

7:30am

Danielle calls.

Danielle: Good morning. Those cramps stopped after I took a shower and I was able to sleep really well! I woke up about an hour and a half ago and have been having contractions about 7 minutes apart since then.

Doula: That’s awesome! Let’s stay in touch throughout the day. You call me as things progress or any time you want to hear my voice, ok?

Its day 2 in the day in the life of a doula. And we’re probably gonna have a baby today!

Authored by: Randy Patterson