No Rescheduling, No Repeats, Oh My!
Ever wondered why you’re super stressed when you commit to a birth client?
When I ask the community of Birth Coach Method’s doula students to elaborate on their stress level and its source, they usually begin talking about being on-call. I wholeheartedly agree that being on-call 24/7 when you are a career doula is super stressful. It’s been also reported by midwives that the unpredictability of childbirth – when will it begin and how will the process unfold, is one of the biggest hardships of the role. It keeps us on our toes – always having to arrange support for our families, always ready to cancel plans or miss family events. It’s messing up our vacations, and more.
Another source of stress that often emerges in our community meetings, or personal mentorship sessions, is our accountability for clients’ birth experiences. While medical caregivers are held accountable for the outcomes, we are held accountable for the quality of the birth process.
In correlation, medical teams suffer high levels of stress that originate from being liable for the outcomes of childbirth. Whereas birth support practitioners struggle because they believe that they are accountable for how their clients are coping, progressing, and performing throughout labor. Doulas work with high accountability for the birth givers’ satisfaction with the birth experience as a whole.
While medical caregivers are held accountable for the outcomes, birth support pros are held accountable for the quality of the birth process
No Rescheduling, No Repeats, One Take! Now What?
Even when things go smoothly and well during the pregnancy and later in L&D, there is always a sense of urgency surrounding pregnancy and birth in our culture. Perhaps this urgency is the result of our cultural belief that things may turn into an emergency at any moment. Lately, I noticed another reason. Even when everything is healthy and goes well, knowing that there are no rehearsals, no repeats, no rescheduling, no preview, and only one ‘long take’- a filmmaking term that means the scene was filmed with no editing in one long take. This technique requires everyone to be at their highest level of performance and demonstrate mastery. No mistakes are allowed. No pressure or anything, right?
How can you move the pressure down a notch?
There are a few simple ways to help take the pressure down and make the atmosphere surrounding pregnancy and birth more at ease so that everyone involved can be a bit more light-hearted.
- Shift the focus to prenatal: While there is only ‘one take’ at childbirth, prenatal coaching sessions can be rescheduled and can make room for misunderstandings, misconceptions, and shifts. No one needs to perform at the peak of their ability each session. Prenatal progress can be certainly achieved and felt in terms of adopting better perceptions, the ability to self-advocate and practice coping skills. Clients who experience this progress prenatally arrive the day of their birth mentally and physically prepared, and significantly more confident that they can achieve their desired birth vision.
While there is only ‘one take’ to childbirth, there can be several prenatal coaching sessions. They can be rescheduled and can make room for misunderstandings, misconceptions, and shifts.
- Being accountable for the process with no attachment to the outcomes: In your prenatal coaching series, continuously repeat this motto. I’s an excellent principle for childbirth, parenting, marital relationships, and — for life! Sh*t happens all the time and there are things beyond our control. We know that birth givers’ satisfaction with their birth relies on how they were conducting themselves and were treated. Not on whether their birth plan was fully met. This principle makes it easy to embrace and accept bumps in the road, or deviations, without losing faith in one’s ability to be satisfied with their process and reach their goals. The brightest chess players are not the ones who don’t make mistakes. They are the ones who know how to respond to a mistake calmly and mindfully and finish the game as winners.
- You are accountable for the support process; the quality of the informational, emotional, and physical support you provide. You are not responsible for your client’s birth experience. This deep understanding of the doulas’ role has the potential to significantly reduce birth support workers’ stress levels.
Your clients’ success and satisfaction depend on many factors including personal motivation, time commitment, how effectively the strategies you handed them are implemented, and efficiency in following up on your guidance and leadership. To those, you may add the particular health conditions that may or may not make it possible for your clients to achieve their desired birth experience. Only your clients can be accountable for their engagement level, preparedness level, and coping level. Prenatally, share the concepts of ‘unpredictability’, ‘flexibility’, and ‘pragmatism’ with your clients. Ask your clients what do these concepts mean to them? Then you and your clients can embrace the unpredictability of childbirth and commit to being flexible and pragmatic – which means changing one’s plan or mind in light of the new circumstances and adjusting to reality with no remorse or guilt.
- Share the concepts of ‘unpredictability’, ‘flexibility’, and ‘pragmatism’ with your clients prenatally. Ask your clients what do these concepts mean to them? Then you and your clients can embrace the unpredictability of childbirth and commit to being flexible and pragmatic – which means changing one’s plan or mind in light of the new circumstances and adjusting to reality with no remorse or guilt.
Your clients’ success and satisfaction depend on many factors including personal motivation, time commitment, how effectively the strategies you handed them are implemented, and efficiency in following up on your guidance and leadership.
- Spiritual guidance around the concept of acceptance is extremely valuable.
You may begin with the famous prayer: “God, give me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. Then discuss your clients desired birth experience and their choices. It will help them understand what is in their hands and what’s not.
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- From Aspiring to Thriving: Doula Mastermind Coaching Group - March 10, 2022