Birth Work: A Life-Giving, Autonomy-Killing Industry
Being a birth worker is amazing. I get to witness growth, love, and connection every day in my job. It might be the best job I'll ever have. But this job is also the pits.
Don't get me wrong- I absolutely adore my doula and childbirth education clients. I still feel awe when attending births. I marvel at the immense stamina of women and other postpartum people at home visits. I get all sorts of happy when an expecting family feels confident in using their new car seat...I love my work. Heck, I'm even in a field where I admire and respect many of the collaborative professionals I get to interact with (obstetricians, midwives, nurses, acupuncturists, doula colleagues, and more).
So what could possibly suck about this baby-cuddling, oxytocin-infused job? Well, for starters, it's really hard to press pause, take a time-out, or even just check out for a few minutes each day. Being on-call for expectant parents in Southern California means my phone (and therefore my brain) must be charged and at the ready every moment of almost all my days. Babies don't wait for weekdays to make their entrances-in fact, most like to come riiiiight as I'm getting in bed on what happens to be my busiest day out of the month. In an active doula practice like mine, being on-call means planning days off so far in advance that no one on the planet is yet expecting a baby during that window.
And sometimes, days off aren't for vacations on the beach. Everyone needs to see a doctor, dentist, and/or therapist here and there, right? Being a birth worker, I'm one of those terrible patients/clients who has to reschedule at the last moment because I was up at a birth all night. I have natural anxiety any time I climb into the dentist's chair because I know I might be mid-filling when a client calls. I'm the chick at the grocery store only picking up a few items because leaving a whole cart behind in the middle of an aisle is beyond awkward.