My post-birth recovery ritual
After my second baby was old enough, I dove into doula work more, eventually creating a family environment where I was able to work up to full time as a birth doula, generally understood in the doula world as 4 due dates per month. I grew a ton as a doula, really found my strengths and identified weaknesses, sought out additional training to grow my skills, my family obviously survived, and I didn’t even need a backup to attend a birth during those years! One of the things I identified as a weakness, and that I have spent a lot of time and energy addressing, is that I did not take time to recover after attending a birth.
Obviously, a doula’s recovery is very different from the birthing person’s and the birth partner’s recovery, but it is extremely important to the doula’s health and well-being, and their ability to continue doula work for the long-term. Doula work can include significant and repetitive physical exertion. Providing support often means temporarily subsisting on smaller snacks eaten quickly, rather than regular meals. It often includes sleep disturbance. Supporting births takes emotional energy as well. So in order to continue providing doula support, I have to prioritize my recovery after every birth, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Here are the things I now have in my post-birth recovery toolbox:
Get a deep tissue massage
Get a chiropractic adjustment
Take a nap
Go to bed early
Eat a nutritious meal
Eat something quick
Tell my husband about the birth (he forgets the details almost immediately, he’s safe!)
Journal about the birth
Talk with a counselor who specializes in birth workers
Drink lots of water
Debrief about the birth with my backup doula (clear expectations of mutual confidentiality)
Finalize my birth notes
Cuddle with my kids
Take a hot bath or soak in a hot tub
Wash my doula uniform and birth bag tools
Now, I certainly do not do all of these things after every birth. Typically, once I get home from a birth, I change my clothes, drink a glass of water, eat something quick, hug my family if they’re awake, and go to sleep. After I wake up, depending on our schedule that day, I take a shower or a hot bath, get my doula clothes and rebozos in the wash, and clean off my doula shoes (I wipe them down with a Norwex envirocloth), and clean any other tools I used from my doula bag. Within the day after I get back home, I tell my husband about the birth, and try to get a deep tissue massage scheduled, or plan when I can go enjoy the jacuzzi at the gym. The day after a birth, I try to go to bed at least an hour earlier than usual. My recovery ritual helps me to stay healthy in body and mind, and ready for the next birth day party!
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