One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is: what if you miss a birth?
Well, to date, I haven’t missed a birth yet even when they’ve been fast and furious. I have been at 100% of my doula clients births except:
. Two years ago one of my clients very graciously understood the death of a close relative meant I wouldn’t be able to support her the same due to my raw grief and met with my backup at least days before labor began and was supported by my backup for her successful VBAC. I am grateful she understood that the sudden death of the man who raised me would impact my capacity to support her unhindered.
I think those are outstanding statistics. One day it will happen that I have two women who go into labor at the same time or on the same day and I will call in one of my two backup doulas. I will feel deeply disappointed that I couldn’t be there. When I sign on a doula client it is with the firmest understanding that I will make every effort to be the doula at her birth. Life happens, however. At my interview with clients I tell them the same thing I have said since I began taking doula clients: I will make every effort to be at your birth but if my daughter is in the hospital for a serious illness or from a car accident then I will be with her. Not once have I had anyone express anything but complete understanding and acceptance of that.
Another frequently asked question I get is: How many births do you take in a month?
The answer varies. I try to stay around 3 per month but upon certain circumstances I might take up to 5 depending on how many are first time moms, high risk, third time moms, etc. There is no exact science to it. All I can say is that my gut feelings and theories have worked out thus far. The months that I do take a higher number of clients I also make sure I have at minimum 2 backup doulas I know and trust. My backups are not chosen at random. The months I have a higher number of clients I am constantly assessing the situation in my head, ready to orchestrate the best case scenario for all involved. Some of my clients would not be unduly upset if I sent another qualified doula to care for them. Other clients would be more disappointed than others due to a variety of reasons: perhaps they are high risk or seeking a VBAC or perhaps I have already attended a previous birth with their family. All of this is taken into serious consideration for the what if and possible scenarios.
Hand in hand with that question comes: Do you have anyone else around my estimated due date?
I can virtually guarantee there will be someone around your estimated due date who is also a client of mine. Because a due date would be better termed a due month I do not put extreme focus on a day your baby is supposed to come. Again, various circumstances come into play such as if there could be indications for medical induction, multiples, etc. Again, it is not an exact science. The issue with not taking someone due the same day or even due the same week as another client is that babies come when they want to. For example: if one mother was due on May 7 and another mother is due on May 29, I have found there is a much closer overlapping than you might think. There might even be a June 5 mother who has preterm or early full term labor and births her baby before the May 7th mama does. I think in terms of a 5 week spread, from 37 weeks to 42 weeks. This is why I also do not just go on call at 38 weeks. I have met with some clients who were due in February who then called me the last week in December in early labor who asked me to meet them at the hospital. I did. If I didn’t take anyone close to another due date I would be helping a lot less women and families.
Rest assured that your birth is truly important to me. I am not in this for a numbers game or simply to make money, although I do support my family this way. Through the years I have adjusted what is a good amount of clients — for my clients and my sake so that I can always offer the best of care to each family but also have enough business to pay my electric bill. Life circumstances change as they do for everyone. When my daughter was 3 yrs old I would not have wanted to have 5 clients in one month. I have been fortunate to rarely get ill and not around the time of a heavily scheduled month. Things have worked out so I believe they will continue to.
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All Rights Reserved, Knoxville Doula Kimberly Sebeck, 2014