The Doula and Her Bump

By: Rossana Keay CD(DONA)
Originally Posted on:

That’s right, you read the title of this blog correctly. I am, in fact, a doula who is pregnant. Some people have asked me if it’s even possible to practice as a doula while carrying a baby of your own in your belly and I can tell you it absolutely is.

Though every doula is different, I can share that being pregnant and doulaing is a lot easier than it sounds if steps towards self-care and stress management are taken. Yes, being on-call 24/7 supporting families for an undetermined amount of time, providing physical and emotional encouragement during a birth and then coming home to take care of a 2 year old and run a household seems like a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong; it is a lot of work especially with a bump, (my daily reminder that life is growing inside of me). But because the reward is so high, and the joy I feel everyday knowing that I can help other people, I figure why not make this work. And here’s how I do it. There are a few very important things to consider when being pregnant and taking on doula work.

1. First Pregnancy vs. Subsequent Pregnancies
I like to tell my clients that every pregnancy is different. With my first, I think I could have done just about anything until the day the baby was about to pop out. Without any nausea, pain, or fatigue, it really felt like I wasn’t even pregnant. This second pregnancy is slightly different, I feel like I need more energy to get through the day. I’m often pretty tired by mid-afternoon and my body has a great memory of where to store soreness and pain from my last labour. I’m aware that every time I grow a baby, I will feel different. I just chose not to let the changes scare me away from what I’m called to do.

2. Workload
Being a full-time doula means that I can be 100% available to my clients. They know that I will not take another job to pay the bills and that I will be fully present and available to them. With this being my only source of income, it does get very tempting to fill my workload and take on every client. But I have to carefully consider what I can handle in order to keep my energy level up for every birth.

3. My doula community
Reaching out to my own doula community about doulaing while pregnant has been my saving grace. I learned that compression socks would help prevent fainting when standing for long periods of time. Drinking a lot of Emergen-C’s would help to hydrate me. Wearing a support belt would help relieve my back pain. And of course always having a fellow doula or two to chat with when I need to de-brief or release some emotions, which we all know are at an all-time high when pregnant.

4. My self-care routine
I’ve always had a routine/ritual at every birth, whether it’s listening to a song before I enter the birth room, sending out the partner for a break before taking one myself, or making sure to check in with my own needs at least every 2 hours. Those didn’t change after being pregnant. What I did do though is make sure to sit down more whenever possible. Have the partner move into the physical roles more. Take more breaks whenever possible and carry pocket-sized snacks. Taking care of myself in every way means I can fully support my clients, and that’s the goal isn’t it?

5. Getting my family on board
Knowing that my husband has a snack waiting for me when I arrive home from a birth keeps me sane and ready to conquer the next birth. My family knows that mommy might be sleeping all day and that I will need my rest and recovery. That for just one day, the household chores can just take a pause or even better, be handled while I’m off having pregnant dreams.

6. Honesty with my clients
I felt that it was very important for my clients to know that I was pregnant. That way they understand if I have to step out or sit down. Being honest with them gives them a level trust that solidifies why they hired me in the first place. Finding the right place and right moment to share my news with each client was a great learning experience. I always made sure they were well aware that my pregnancy would not take anything away from my level of support to them.

Photo by Reedan Thiessen, Mountain Mama YYC
Photo used with permission