Friday, October 28, 2011

Self Care

I've spoken recently about the drawbacks to being a doula, and working in a job that is unpredictable - you don't know what your hours will be; there is no one telling you what to do; and the perks are sometimes hard to spot.

Something must keep drawing us back to the birthing space - clearly, the miracle of birth is fantastic, and being able to provide emotional support is extremely rewarding. I would also argue that OBs, midwives and doulas are adrenaline junkies. Just like those people who continue to seek higher and higher peaks to scale, we continue to seek experiences that get the heart pumping (as I tell my clients, labour is actually pretty boring until the end, but sometimes, you come up against a situation that leaves you reeling!)

And with all this adrenaline, lack of sleep and outpouring of support, there is little time and effort for something that is so important: self care.

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Like the flight attendants say: you must put on your own oxygen mask before you help your children (or anyone else for that matter). If a doula (or any type of person who's main role is to support others) does not put on her oxygen mask, she will burn out and be useless to her clients.

I've learned this the hard way these past 9 months, and I'm ready to take more of an active role in the self care department. So here is an outline of some of the things I plan to (try) to do for myself, as I enter some of the busiest months of my career thus far:

1) I'm joining Andrea over at At Peek Inside the Fishbowl to do the "100 Club." A long, fast walk every day, and 40 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats, 10 push-ups. Quick and simple!

2) My yoga 10-class pass is sitting unused in my wallet. Time to bust it out and attend a class each week. I am also committing to doing one other day of a quick yoga/meditation exercise.

3) Protein: people who stay up all night don't need more carbs. Carbs are great for an all-around healthy diet, but if that's what you're eating to keep you awake, you're in for an unpleasant surprise. Sugar crashes! Headaches! Nausea! I am committing to eat more protein.

4) Monthly massages. This is easy for me - no one needs to drag me to the massage table! (thanks Anna Belanger!)

5) Friends: they are my lifeline. I need to commit to working on friendships, so that I don't end up losing any. Phone calls, letters, emails and as many face-to-face dates as I can schedule.

Even when you're not a doula, self care is so important. What do you do to take care of yourself?


  1. The yoga is great! And going with a friend, you can check two things off the list at once! A hot bath & glass of wine can do wonders when you don't have loads of time. I have found self-care to be very very important. Glad you wrote on this subject!! :)

  2. Good for you. I really want to start yoga and I have been saying that for months. Really need to take that step.

  3. What works wonders for me is the Designer whey protein powder (I get it from trader joes but I'm sure it's everywhere). It's 100 calories served w 8oz of water.. Sometimes I'll do it w milk or add strawberries/bananas in the handblender. It's quick and yummy.. Fills me up for a short time but gives me energy and keeps me from grabbing chips or other carby crap to snack on.

  4. @BirthingwithSerenity - totally forgot about the bath/wine thing. I do it after every birth!

    @Alicia - it's a hard step to take when you lack time. But so worth it!

    @Megan - thanks for reminding me about protein powder. I used to take it when I was training for my half-marathon, and I think it would definitely be useful for births!


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