Doula work is basically defined as "mothering the mother," which I would expand to looking after her partner and any other friends and family they have with them at the labor. In other words, it isn't that difficult. If you have children of your own, you pretty much have the skills and experience you need, and even if you don't have children, I would be willing to bet that liking to nurture people is one of the things that drew you to this work. As for how to take care of yourself, here are some suggestions:
- Bring healthy snacks. You will need to keep your energy up, and you may not be able to leave to eat. In any case, I doubt that you would want what can be gotten after hours from hospital vending machines. Avoid foods with a strong smell such as coffee or garlic, for example, because smells can be a problem for laboring women. Carry breath mints or a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Dress in layers. It can be hot or cold or either at different times in the labor room. Don't wear anything that you would mind getting stained.
- Take breaks as appropriate. You will have to use your judgment, but you don't need to be there every minute of the labor. In fact, it is good for most couples to have some alone time.
- Carry a copy of Simkin and Ancheta's the Labor Progress Handbook.
- Arrange with a mentor to be available by phone. That will give you someone to consult or just to talk to if you need to.
- Arrange with a mentor to debrief after the birth.
Any doulas out there with additional suggestions? Feel free to chime in.
Let us know how it went.
No other suggestions, but just a reminder: trust birth! You give your client the positive energy she needs that way.