As we continue through the holiday season, it can be difficult to navigate the holiday season while working as a doula. Holidays and doula work can take time to figure out as a new doula, but there are many ways to make things work.
Babies do not stop being born simply because there is a holiday on the calendar. With some forethought and realistic expectations, you can thrive in your personal and professional life during the holidays.
Holidays and Doula Work – Always Plan Ahead
It is important when booking clients that you are aware there is no way to know the exact date a baby will be born. Even in cases of schedule c-section or induction, there are times when baby will come earlier or later than planned.
A client due on December 16th or December 30th does not guarantee you won’t be called to their birth on Christmas day.
If you are planning to go out of town at Christmas, you must always be upfront with that potential client. The dates you are not available as well as the agreed upon backup doula should be written into the contract. It is imperative that if you have a known potential conflict that potential clients be able to decide if they want to take that risk of a backup.
While there is always a risk of needing a backup, it is different if there is a known reason in advance.
Prepare Your Family, Friends, Etc.,
When you work on call, it is important that you give your family, friends, and especially children realistic expectations. While you are never responsible for how they respond, navigating any difficult conversations beforehand can help you not stress in the moments when you are supposed to be focused on your client.
If you have children, be sure to talk to your partner and support people. Discuss how you will navigate if you miss a big holiday moment. Being called away during Christmas dinner or just before midnight on New Year’s Eve can be disappointing for people close to you. However, many people navigate working during the holidays and the expectations of family and friends.
Consider a Doula Partner
If you plan to take consistent clients year-round, working with a doula partner could be the answer to navigating the holidays. When you work with a partner, you have the option to take turns being on call during different holidays.
It’s great to work with a partner or have an agreement with a doula who celebrates different holidays. If you live in a diverse community, chances are there are some doulas who celebrate holidays you do not. While you may celebrate holidays they do not. You could be on-call during Christmas if you do not observe, and they could be on-call during Yom Kippur for you.
Make Holidays and Doula Work Special
Some clients will be excited to give birth on a holiday. Other clients might be worried or disappointed. Taking time to find out what is special to them about the holiday can help you support them best.
Perhaps Christmas is their favorite holiday, and they are bummed to miss Christmas at home. Little things like a string of Christmas lights or a mini desk Christmas tree brought to their birth could bring a little extra joy.
If they have a favorite holiday dish, perhaps a nearby restaurant prepares it and you could grab for them. Take time to find out what traditions are important to them. Even if you cannot participate in them, you can hold space while they do.
Be Human But Focus on Holding Space
It is perfectly reasonable to be disappointed in missing a holiday with your family to attend a birth. That said, once you agree to support a client due during the holidays, it is imperative that you put any personal feelings aside and be fully present for their birth.
It is okay to have disappointment, but it is not okay for that disappointment to impact your client. If you have a young child, consider not booking any clients near the holidays. That is, if it will cause stress for you. Your professional desire to be booked year-round should never trump a client’s right to fully present birth support.
It is okay to let a professional client know you are not available. Keep a list of area doulas you can refer to. Let potential clients know that while you are not available, they might be. Never take a client when you know you may not be able to be fully present. It is more than okay to have your limits. But it is vital those limits do not negatively impact a client who has hired you.