In order to provide the highest level of support to your clients after becoming a doula, you need to be sure to prioritize self-care.
At the core of it, becoming a doula is about giving. You are giving the gift of support to new families. When you are with them, your focus is 100% on their needs.
While this is a beautiful and rewarding way to make a living, it can also be very draining. Let’s face it, becoming a doula is hard work! Birth does not have a schedule, nor do newborns. Being on call for a birth at any hour of the day, or working with newly postpartum mothers with different scheduling needs, can be exhausting. If you’re not careful, it can be easy to burn out.
Here are a few tips for practicing self-care after becoming a doula:
Don’t overload your schedule
When you first begin taking clients, it can be tempting to max out your schedule. For one thing, if you are becoming a doula, you likely have a heart for supporting mothers and want to help as many families as you can. For another, it can be difficult to turn down potential income. However, if you overbook yourself, you’ll end up feeling burned out very quickly. And when you’re burned out, it’s harder to provide a consistently high level of service to your clients. You could also run the risk of having clients overlap, which could land you in a sticky situation.
Decide in advance how many births you can realistically handle in a month or how many postpartum hours you can handle each week and stick to it (this may be different for everyone!). Your clients will appreciate knowing that you stick to your limits and that you’ll be able to provide them with the highest level of care.
Connect with other doulas
Building relationships with other local doulas can be immensely helpful after becoming a doula. In terms of self-care, it’s helpful to have other people that you can debrief with. People who do what you do and will understand exactly where you are coming from. As you will tell the families you work with, having a strong system of support can make all the difference when you are feeling overwhelmed or need a listening ear. Additionally, you can begin to build partnerships, and find doulas are willing to be a backup for you (and vice versa).
Schedule time for yourself
I mean this very literally. Write “Time for Me” into your schedule! If it’s not scheduled, you may not actually find the time to fit in. After becoming a doula, you’ll find that your calendar will quickly begin to fill up with client meet and greets, pre-natal meetings, births, and postpartum visits. You’ll also need to devote time to your business and marketing yourself. Think about something that you love to do, or something that helps you relax. It could be working out, reading a book, working on a craft – anything! Find some time in your schedule, even if it’s just 20 minutes a day or an hour once a week, to devote to that activity and pencil it in. After a busy day, you’ll be glad that you made the time to relax and decompress.
After becoming a doula, it’s important to practice what you preach to your clients: take time to rest and recover. After all, you can’t take care of your clients unless you take care of yourself first.