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Doulaing while pregnant ... thoughts?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi Ladies,

I am a doula and have been for three years now.  I began right after my son's birth in '08 and now I'm pregnant with baby #2 and have been doulaing up to this point (20 weeks) without issue.  I am now at the point in my pregnancy though where I get tired much more easily and its taking a bit longer to recover.  I'm wondering how long others doulaed while pregnant and what factors you found helpful when considering whether or not to accept clients while you were pregnant?



post #2 of 12

I became a doula after my 7th child was 2 yrs old and have now gone through two pregnancies while doula-ing, and in both cases did births until 3 weeks before each of my babies was born.  It was very hard and now looking back on it I wish I wouldn't have.  I wish I would have taken more time to enjoy being pregnant and less time working (I worked for a hospital program so didn't have to worry about finding clients, but that also meant probably going to more births then I would have if I was only doing private work).  


With both of my kids I thought I was going to work later into the pregnancy and just out of the blue (after doing a birth) I knew I was done!  My daughter was born at 38 weeks and my son was born at 34 weeks, so I went to 35 weeks and 31 weeks as a doula and just knew I was done.


I think one thing to consider too is how the families will react.  Towards the end I saw the families (both mother and father) worrying about how I was holding up.  It is never good to have the mother worrying about how the doula is holding up while she is birthing her baby.  

post #3 of 12

I haven't been a doula through a pregnancy yet, but I am thinking my cut off will be 32 weeks, or maybe a little before then.


I'm actually a little more worried about the first trimester when I will feel like crap and be exhausted!

post #4 of 12
I'm currently expecting my first, and attended my first birth 7 years ago. I really don't think I could have doula'd in my first trimester. I was beyond exhausted and nauseous. Fortunately I didn't have any clients due then.

I did attend births early in my second trimester, and didn't find them much different than doula'ing while not pregnant.

Now that I'm into my third trimester, I find that I need to sit more, eat more, and pee more than I typically do at a birth, and it takes me longer to recover physically. Granted, I had three births in three weeks, (which is busy for me; I also work a part-time job three mornings a week)

#1 was a stillbirth (that I knew was going to be a stillbirth); #2 was a speedy lovely homebirth; #3 was a teen birth turned Stat Cesarean with a baby needing resuscitation & eventual transfer to a higher care facility. March has been a very intense birthing month, and I'm hoping that my final client birth will be smooth. I don't want to be so full of other women's birth experiences that I don't have room for my own lessons... if that makes sense?? If the timing works out, I may even re-arrange my work schedule a little so I can spend a day at local retreat centre and have breathing space for myself. I'm working my p/t job right up until I give birth, so there won't be any built-in days off.

I am now 33+5, and have one birth left to go. I hadn't planned to take on clients so late in my pregnancy, but this client (an acquaintance/ friend) contacted me right after she pee'd on the stick, and hired me in the 5 weeks between when she got pregnant, and when I got pregnant. She is planning a home birth, and has the same midwife that I do (who is also pregnant - due in July). I do hope that this final client goes sooner than later though. If she goes all the way to 42 weeks, I'll be 37 weeks pregnant.

I have felt great from 2nd trimester onward, and DH is uber-supportive, so I've basically just carried on with my usual life and routine. Maybe it's an occupational hazard, but this whole pregnancy thing feels pretty normal to me; even if it is my first.

All that being said, only you know your comfort levels. My biggest factor is determining whether to take on clients while pregnant was finances (bad as that sounds). Assuming I was physically & emotionally up to it, and knowing that normally I only have 6-8 clients in a year anyway, I wanted to take as many clients as came my way, because we'll be without my p/t job income, and without my doula income, for a few months after the baby is born. Turns out I'll have had 7 births in 5 months, all while pregnant - my busiest stretch of doula work ever. Of course, 3 of those were volunteer births for teens, so the financial goal wasn't exactly met....

The big question for me now, is how soon AFTER baby I plan to go back to birth doula work.... if I go back at all!
post #5 of 12

I doula'd up to 26 weeks, then stopped.  My first baby was born at 34 weeks and I did not want to stress my body out and have another preemie.  The longer births were hard, and I was glad when I stopped.  I started up again, with just a few clients, spaced pretty far apart, when the baby was 5 months old - just had to take a break during labors to pump.  The parents were always pretty understanding, and I tried to time pumping breaks for when there was not a lot of action anticipated for 15 minutes or so.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Just thought I would update y'all after sharing your great info with me.  After reflecting on how I'm feeling now (good but getting tired more easily) I've decided to give myself at least the last two months of my pregnancy for my family and myself.  I have a client I'm going to have to turn over to another doula, which I hate doing, but I've realized the need to also take good care of myself and to try and get time with my family of three before we become a family of four. 


Thank you all for sharing your situations and what things you took into consideration when in this same position.  :)



post #7 of 12

I'm 8 weeks pregnant with #2, and have two clients due 6 days apart in Mid-Late may, and I don't think I'll be taking any more for the duration of my pregnancy. I don't do pregnant well, I'm generally grumpy, and I don't think It's fair to my clients to have me at their births if I'm having a less than stellar day. 

post #8 of 12

@Nutter: I'm going through the same thoughts about when to go back to doula-ing after my baby was born, and have finally decided I would wait until his 1st birthday. I just couldn't fathom leaving him for 36 hours (or longer) until then. I was attended at my birth by a doula who had a seven month old at home, and I could tell her mind was often on her child at home. I totally don't blame her at all! But I want to be able to fully concentrate on my client and provide excellent services to her without worrying about my baby. Maybe my experience will help. Just thought I'd throw it out there!

post #9 of 12

I went back to work with both of my kids when they were around three months old.  One thing that I did that made that transition easier was to have another doula present.  I mentored doulas, so when I went back I took another doula with me and when I had to leave to pump or feed my baby I was easily able to do so without feeling guilty or the mom being alone or upset.  I found it was helpful to all involved.  The mom got two doulas, I got help and could take breaks as needed, and another doula got the opportunity to work with an experienced doula and got to be mentored.  


If anyone does that the only thing I would suggest is to really be careful and make sure the doula that will be working with you knows her place, the expectations, etc.  I say this because I have mentored other doulas who when called said "today's not a good day" but when interviewing their schedule was 100% open.  I had one doula who was never available - she never in the end became a doula.  

post #10 of 12

I'm 9weeks pregnant with my second, and Thank Goodness did not have a mom due during the last month and a half!!  I would have been worthless at the birth.  I began to wonder, what do nurses, midwives, OBs do when pregnant.  But...they aren't with the moms every single minute.  They get more breaks then we do.  :)  So, I have a few clients that I am taking over the summer (May- Sept) and then be done.  I also teach Childbirth Ed, and that should be less demanding and more comfortable up till the end.

post #11 of 12



Remember....I told you that you could always call me in to help if you felt you needed it....  That also goes toward me doing the physical work and you doing the emotional work!!!


Tina  orngbiggrin.gif

post #12 of 12

I'm almost 7 weeks pregnant now... about to head out to a birth.  I am exhausted!  Luckily this birth is one with another doula that I work with, so hopefully even if I am not on my game she will take up the slack.  My next momma isn't due for three more weeks, hopefully I will have a little more energy (and hey maybe it will be not at midnight either! lol)


I have 4 (potentially 5) solo clients and 3 duo clients between now and november (nov is a duo client, I will be ~33 weeks then) and that is all I am taking.  

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