Have you ever wondered what life is like for a doula/birth photographer when she’s waiting for a client to go into labor? How do we manage our everyday activities, childcare, laundry, dinners, etc.? The list goes on and on.
To be honest, my on call life probably doesn’t look very different from yours. However, there are some things that I do – and don’t do – when I’m on call so that I can be ready and at my best self to serve my clients when the call comes. Let’s dive in!
One of the activities I avoid when I’m on call is staying up late. I’ve always loved sleeping and I still do! Over half of the births I’ve attended so far have started with a middle of the night phone call. I want to make sure I am taking every opportunity to rest as much as I can so that I can feel relaxed and alert when I’m called.
My family absolutely loves being outside! Our favorite thing to do on a weekend is take our SC State Park pass and travel to any of the 47 state parks that we have in beautiful South Carolina. Most of these lovely parks are over an hour away from our home so when I’m on call, we frequent Sesquicentennial Park because it is close to home and I still get amazing cell phone service. Activities such as canoeing or hiking long distances are out when I’m waiting for a birth to begin!
Living life on call means that I must be ready to pack up and go to your birthing location within a moment’s notice. There are a few things I do to make sure I can come as soon as I get the “I’m ready” call. First, I always make sure that my doula bag is prepped, packed, and ready to go. Often this means toting it, as well as a change of clothes, along in the car with me wherever I go. I also have to make sure that both vehicles always have enough gas to get me to the birthing location AND home (just in case I’m coming home in the middle of the night!). I carry both my set of car keys, as well as my husbands with me because sometimes I meet him to switch out; he’ll get the van with the kids and I’ll take his car.
I love getting texts or calls saying that the clients believe they may be in labor, but they don’t need me quite yet. These are so handy because I have some time to prepare, arrange childcare, make a crockpot dinner, or grilled cheese real quick, and cancel any engagements that I may have scheduled. However, these calls don’t always happen so it’s realistic to think that it could possibly take me at least an hour or two to arrive at the birth location to be with a client. In the case of me having a severe sickness, issues with childcare, or already at another birth, I will utilize my doula partner, a back up doula, or backup birth photographer to take my place.
I practice sustainable doula work, which means I have a partner with whom I share on call time and back up responsibilities. My partner is Kaylin Smith, and she is just as amazing as me! 😁 I first met Kaylin when I was preemptively searching out doulas for my yet-to-happen third pregnancy. She has an infectious smile and laugh that instantly draws you in. Kaylin and I share similar birthing histories of our own and have a lot of the same customer service standards. She has a personality that encompasses you with kindness, compassion and empathy for others. We each hold our businesses separately but work together to accommodate the demands of being on call.
What happens if I can’t make it to a birth photography client’s birth? In this case, I work with several other amazing phtographers in Columbia and Lexington. In the instance that I’d need to send a back up photographer, the client can be rest assured the image quality and quantity will be similar to that which I would produce. The back up photographer that I choose will be just as invested in making sure that you feel calm and supported during your birth experience while delivering beautiful images.
What other questions do you have about the life of a doula? Drop a comment and ask away!