|Posted on July 20, 2016 at 12:05 AM|
Put your oxygen mask on first.
Recently inspired by a video watched on social media, it motivated me to look deeper into what we offer as Doulas, how that video applied to the work that we do and how can we better serve our clients.
As a Doula this is the advise we give every new parent. “You must put your oxygen mask on first, before you can care for anyone else”. This is the most challenging for all new families, the guilt, the feeling of selfishness or shame for needing to take time and to recharge. Well this applies to all who do Doula/Birth work as well!
But why? We are choosing to be on-call for one to five births per month, we chose our hours as postpartum Doulas, we know our limits and for the most part chose what we can do within those limits so we find balance and harmony in our personal lives, as well as, with our sleep and our professional hours. The services we provide go well beyond just being with a client, we have office hours, administrative work to complete, meetings after hours to accommodate client schedules and more.
It may take us two days to recover from a birth or postpartum shift. The guilty voice inside us asks but, Why? We “weren’t working as hard as the mom/parent”? “we are sleeping at the end of a shift”! It can often be so confusing, we try to justify why we shouldn’t feel as exhausted.
Well the answer can be as simple as identifying whether we are Sympathetic or Empathetic with our clients;
Empathy is the ability to EXPERIENCE the feelings of another person.
Sympathy is caring and UNDERSTANDING for the feelings of others.
Are we sharing in their empathy thus FEELING their experience? Furthered by our compassion that translates these feelings into action?
We often enter this work because there was a passion that drove us out of the starting gate, the desire and the enthusiasm was strong, much like that initial oxytocin rush that keeps us going. Then it becomes apart of our lifestyle, we make adjustments and we continue through the exhaustion, the growing pains and the intensity we often feel when leaving a client.
We can turn this action into a healthy boundaries of providing support while caring for ourselves if we learn to just hold space. By holding space without being empathetic, moving into this place of sympathy we begin to offer gentle nonjudgemental support and guidance, releasing ourselves of feeling like we are responsible for our clients.
What does it mean to “hold space” for someone else?
“It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.” - by Heather Plett
How do we hold space in birth work?
Getting back to the basics of providing Physical, Emotional and Informational support.
When we learn to get out of the way, step aside and allow our clients to travel their own journey, we further allow them to feel supported, to get factual based information without our own agendas derailing their process, we in turn free ourselves of the pressure of being responsible for their outcomes. “It’s not my birth, It’s not my baby”. We turn that agenda into TRUST, trusting that these parents are smart, capable and knowing parents. That they are going to do what is best for themselves and their family. We don’t have the power of knowing what’s best for them.
Heal yourself of your own birth.
Had I known then, what I know now! Classic Doula mantra. You made the best decision for you in the moment! Give yourself GRACE. Because of your experience you became more informed. You have this knowledge to share with families to apply as they see fit. You are a vessel of knowledge while removing the EMPATHETIC characteristics from your service. Their experience will never be the same as your experience, your birth story should remain that way without projection onto your clients. You aren’t there to save them.
Your families are traveling a journey of true transformation. Because of their own experiences they will go down a road that will lead them to have their own growth and life changing opportunities, example: I had a client who was a college professor with degrees in areas unrelated to birth work, after her first child she became a doula and after her second child she packed up went to an ivy league school where she just graduated with her Midwifery license - her personal experience was life changing all because she was surrounded by people who just held space.
Allow yourself to grow.
As we sit in this place of trust, we allow ourselves to grow and to learn. It takes one time for you to stand back and to trust for you to truly see the power of what’s happening. Maybe you wanted to strongly encourage a mom to do something or to avoid doing something, but you kept within your scope of nonjudgemental support and as it all unfolded you realize it had to happen this way for a reason. You now clearly see the reason and became so thankful for trusting in those parents for their intuition or gut instinct. You become HUMBLE.
Think of the freedom you can allow yourself where you can provide amazing Doula support to your clients while also caring for yourself.
#doulas #avoidingburnout #areyoudoulamaterial #takingcareofyourself
Categories: Birth Professionals