The doula profession is more than performing a job and going home. It takes a level of passion to be successful at it. Any profession that involves passion and high levels of compassion, has a risk for burnout. Some of us enter this calling without even thinking about a downside. Any seasoned doula can testify how mentally and physically exhausting it is to be on call and to be a part of long labors, so let’s talk about ways to prevent burnout.
1) Have a dependable backup– This allows you to take time out for yourself. Being on-call 24/7 can stop you from living your life the way you used to before you found your passion as a doula. Someone dependable backing you up can take stress off of your personal relationships and allow you more time with those that matter most.
2) Take the time to fill your love tank– You can’t give what you don’t have. Go for a walk, write, dance, paint, acupuncture, message, spending time with loved ones, etc. Everything that gets thrown on the back burner during stressful times, is also the solution to stress.
3) Keep good records– Make sure you know where the correct documents are for each client. If you are a busy doula, go through recent conversations and birth plan, before meeting the client at the place where they want to give birth. Take the folder with you when going to the hospital in case you need to spell last name, etc. It is also a good idea to write how the birth went, and keep it in their file. Ask yourself what you did well. What you could do better next time? Make a timeline of what happened in case the mother of the baby wants to clarify the details.
How different each second of our life would be if we loved ourselves. What if we liked what we saw in the mirror? What if we saw beauty instead of imperfections? What if we measured how we are doing in life by how we are doing now, not by our past? What if we forgave ourselves more and condemned ourselves less? We would have more to give to everyone around us. I have a quote on my mirror. It says, “I Am the Best Example the World Has on How to Love Me.” Someone gave me this quote after one of the hardest times of my life. I think she was inspired to send such a gift. It changed how I treat myself, and I hope to pass it on to you.
People around us don’t know how to make us feel loved. We need to first love ourselves so others can take our lead. We can show them how by doing the activities we love, talking about activities, movies, or food we enjoy, meditating, exercise and so forth. This is when people around us gain insight. When times of trial and strife come upon us, the surrounding people can understand what we need to get back on our feet again.
We have a network of doulas in Western Massachusetts, and I am looking for a presentation on ZOOM for our group discussing doula burnout and how to be proactive in avoiding this typical part of a doula’s experience. If you don’t, do you know someone who does?
Odessa Bates, MA, CD, CPD, CPES
We would love to discuss this inquiry further with you. Could you reach out to email@example.com?