When is it appropite for a doula to break? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 04-18-2010, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I recently attended a 56 hour birth which I was present at for over 34 hours without sleep. I am pregnant myself and have to be careful.

When do you (doulas) take breaks? How long? I just arrived at another birth. Contractions were 7 mins apart 1 min long, but couple is napping now and they are 12-15 mins apart. I teach a class from 4:30-7pm tonight that I will have to cancel, but I also feel like we may have a LONG way to go.

This is my 7th birth to attend. Advice? What do you do if you show up too early?

Mandi - Doula/Childbirth Educator, Loving my DH, DS, DD, DD, missing my three (last m/c 4/2010)
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#2 of 13 Old 04-18-2010, 07:59 PM
 
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If I show up too early, I might monitor for awhile and then head home with instructions to call me back when things pick up. This of course all depends on if you are still at their home or at the hospital, how the couple is coping, how far away you live, etc.

At this point, if they are napping then I suggest you nap as well. Get some rest in, you deserve it.

Erika, mama to three beautiful kids (plus one gestating), and wife to one fantastic man.

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#3 of 13 Old 04-18-2010, 08:50 PM
 
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I'm sure your clients can understand that your own pregnancy is more important than their need for a doula. Do you have a back up doula? If not I suggest that you give yourself permission to take breaks and to come more towards transition than at the onset of labor. Make an appearance maybe and see how quickly labor is going - but a seriously long labor even I would take a sleeping break during.

Wife to Mark, Momma to Matt & Bryan : Joe & Jonathan - Labor Doula
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#4 of 13 Old 04-19-2010, 11:43 AM
 
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As far as arriving too early - I would first ask you was that your perception or the mothers? I ask only because I have seen and been at some very long births where the mother was working very hard and needed her doula there. Then I have been to some births where the mothers don't need me yet and in that case then I will excuse myself to in most cases take a nap somewhere. I believe that if the mother calls me then I should be there. I truly believe that if my client hires me and wants me there I should be there.

As far as sleeping goes - if they are sleeping or resting then so am I.

If I were so completely exhausted that I feel that I am not good for the family anymore then I might call in another doula to either labor sit so I could nap or I would turn the family over to the next doula. Honestly that has never happen yet because I have been able to get through or catch a nap while mom does too.

As far as a class goes - I would most likely cancel it because you never know if the birth will be long or not. Just because it is slow going now doesn't necessarily means it will be later on.

Michelle married to my highschool sweetheart and mom to: DD '88, DS '90, DD '91, DD '94, DD '97, DD '98, DD '01, DD '08, and DS'09

(Non-profit Organization Director and Program Coordinator / Doula / Educator / Massage Therapist)

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#5 of 13 Old 04-19-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Beccadoula View Post
I'm sure your clients can understand that your own pregnancy is more important than their need for a doula.
I have to disagree with this. I have now doula'd through two pregnancies and in both cases did my last births just about three weeks before each of my kids was born and the client in most cases wants her doula there. While she is laboring she shouldn't be worrying about whether her pregnant doula can do the job or not - that isn't her role or responsibility. If the doula can't do the work then it is her place to call in her back up or pull out of the work until she is able to do it again.

I think the client should be worrying about her own birthing process and not whether her doula is okay or not. She also shouldn't have to "understand" that her doulas pregnancy is more important and if she needs to think that then again the doula needs to turn it over to someone else.

Michelle married to my highschool sweetheart and mom to: DD '88, DS '90, DD '91, DD '94, DD '97, DD '98, DD '01, DD '08, and DS'09

(Non-profit Organization Director and Program Coordinator / Doula / Educator / Massage Therapist)

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#6 of 13 Old 04-20-2010, 01:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by leurMaman View Post
I recently attended a 56 hour birth which I was present at for over 34 hours without sleep. I am pregnant myself and have to be careful.

When do you (doulas) take breaks? How long? I just arrived at another birth. Contractions were 7 mins apart 1 min long, but couple is napping now and they are 12-15 mins apart. I teach a class from 4:30-7pm tonight that I will have to cancel, but I also feel like we may have a LONG way to go.

This is my 7th birth to attend. Advice? What do you do if you show up too early?
You can take a break whenever things are quiet, and whenever you really need to. You know the old thing about putting on your own oxygen mask first? You'll be no good to anyone if you're too tired to think or stand, pregnant or otherwise.

At the current birth, if contractions were that slow and the family was sleeping, why are you there? I'd go home. I disagree with a previous poster - sometimes having the doula or any other person there can slow things down. Sometimes women need to have more time on their own. The fact that you are okay with leaving can give the woman/family the confidence to carry on on their own - after all, if you were concerned, you wouldn't leave, right?

I always tell clients that their first call is not usually the one that brings me galloping to their side. We check in, I say "are you managing okay on your own or would you like me to come?" and then we make a plan for when we'll talk again. I don't often arrive early and need to leave, but it happens sometimes, particularly with a baby in a funky position who needs time to turn. I may leave them with some "Spinning Babies" info if I suspect that's the case, otherwise we just wait.

Good luck and take care of yourself!

Doula, CBE, Placenta Lady
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#7 of 13 Old 04-21-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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I talk with my clients about having a back-up come spell me if their birth goes really long. I have never had to do it, nor have I had to spell my doula-buddy when I have backed up for her. Personally, I think it's better to get a fresh horse, let the primary doula take a break and come back refreshed than to have three dog-tired people there when the mom might need somebody who can speak in complete sentences or be totally rational when she is not. Your presence is important, so if you can't be fully present because you are a walking zombie (or,heaven forbid, you get so tired that YOU start having contractions), it's better to hand off to another person who can give the couple the support they need.

I also have to disagree with Beccadoula - if you are prego., you need to decide beforehand how much you can do, and be up front with clients - maybe you need to take a break after 18 hours, not 36. Maybe you need to work in tandem with another doula or not take primiparas as clients, as they tend to have longer labors.

You will learn to do better phone screening as you go along, but it's true that some moms need support even with prodromal labor. If you go to them but things seem non-progressing over the course of a few hours, you can always talk to them about conserving energy, know this might be a long haul, tell them to do the bath and glass of wine routine, try to sleep, then say I am going home to rest also, but call me back if it picks up.

At the hospital, I take little breaks if the couple is in their own zone and don't seem to need me, but that means I sit on the couch and eat a snack if they are in the bathtub together, or I go down the hall to use the toilet and call my husband to check in with him. If the mom gets an epidural, I sleep when she sleeps, but again, on the couch right next to her bed.

Doula, WOHM, wife to a super-fun papa, mama to the Monkey ('07), and his little brother, the Sea Monkey ('09).
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#8 of 13 Old 04-22-2010, 05:20 AM
 
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I don't have any specific advice for you as everyone is different but I'll tell you my experience. I attended my last birth back in January. I was 16 weeks and it was a long birth. I was with her for about 24 hours but awake for nearly 30 from the time I got up until the time I got to get some sleep. By about 20 hours since I'd woken up my body started shutting down. I started having severe pain in the groin area and down my inner thigh to the point that I could barely stand or walk. I developed the shakes even though i was hydrating and trying to eat and at one point towards the end the nurse took my to another room and took my blood pressure. I had an extremely hard time and this poor mama had really bad back labor with a slow progress and an OP baby. Thankfully my own doula/friend was attending the birth with me to observe her first birth and she was an amazing help. That mom needed both of our plus her husbands full attention though because of how difficult her labor was. I took small breaks when I could but they were few and far in between and very short (like bathroom or quick snack) because like I said, we were all needed.

I never imagined that at 16 weeks a birth would be so difficult. I am so glad that I knew my limits as far as to how far into the pregnancy I should take clients and that she was my last one. At times I felt like a wimp for what happened but at the same time, my body knows better than my brain.

Amy, Army wife living in S. Korea, mama to my inverted t c/s baby 04.05.08 and my VBAC with inverted t baby 07.24.10
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#9 of 13 Old 04-24-2010, 11:59 AM
 
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Very interesting. I have just begun training as a doula and I've wondered how a doula handles helping a mother in labor while she herself is pregnant. Great info and good luck to you in your pregnancy and career as a doula. As always, I guess it is very important to know your own limits and not over commit. Tricky sometimes.
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#10 of 13 Old 04-25-2010, 11:58 AM
 
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As a new doula you might need to refine your policy for when you arrive at the women's home. As others said learn better phone triage, to make sure you are not arriving too early.

Naturally there will be an occasional women who needs you early, but it's unrealistic to spend 2 1/2 days without rest or sleep for anyone. Then when she really needs you, you will be burnt out!

.
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#11 of 13 Old 04-26-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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I rest when they rest... I sleep really light anyways, and can even sleep standing if need be. My husband accuses me of narcolepsy, but I'm not, I'm just blessed to be able to function on little/no sleep and in weird positions. LOL!

Cole Deelah
a mama of 5, wife of one, doula, MW apprentice, and childbirth educator
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#12 of 13 Old 04-27-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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I attended a 36 hour birth in my first trimester w/DD (now 9mo). It was a homebirth turned transfer, for a friend, with an amazing midwife & birth assistant, plus the mama's husband and her mom. I couldn't possibly have done it without being in a real team environment where it was NOT just me as the support person. And I rested a lot. (Although, oddly, even when the mama was asleep, I couldn't sleep for more than 1 hour at a time that whole time.)

I also did an ~18 hour birth around the same time, where it was just me & dad with mama in the hospital. Even there I had to rest more than I would have if not pg, but that mama & dad were REALLY in synch with each other so it was actually just what they needed for me to sit there and cheerlead. That one, however, ended in a c/s birth for FTW (failure to wait) - in my not very humble opinion - and emotionally, that was very hard for me to deal with while pregnant. I didn't feel responsible - I knew I had done my best and once they put her on the clock (waters broke) there was little anyone could have done. But it was just overwhelming in my pregnancy-induced emotional state.

That was the last birth I did as I haven't been willing to leave DD yet.

Here as mama to W (2/04), R (5/06), D (7/09), and J (12/9/12!), co-parenting with my DH

I WOH part-time, am a doula & childbirth educator, home/unschool, and hope we are nearing the center of chaos


 
  

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#13 of 13 Old 04-28-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mamabeakley View Post
FTW (failure to wait)

wash.gif  Me  + bikenew.gif Dh =  broc1.gif  Dd1(9 yrs) + hearts.gif  Dd2(6 yrs) and blowkiss.gif Ds(3.5 yrs)
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