The Self-Care Side of Doula Life: Avoiding Burnout with a Smile

Being a doula is as rewarding as it is challenging. After all, who else can claim their workplace involves bringing new life into the world on a daily basis? But let’s be real, between the 3 AM calls and emotional support marathons, even the most seasoned doulas can feel the wear and tear. That’s why mastering the art of self-care isn’t just nice—it’s essential for survival in the doula biz! Here’s how you can keep your own batteries charged, dodge compassion fatigue, and manage stress with a grin.

1. Start with the Basics: Naptime Isn’t Just for Babies

Remember how parents are always advised to sleep when the baby sleeps? Well, doulas should nap when… anytime possible! Sleep might seem like a luxury when your phone is buzzing with birthing emergencies, but grabbing those Z’s is crucial. Lack of sleep can make anyone grumpy—even those with saint-like patience. So, curtain off some snooze time; your body (and your clients) will thank you.

2. Laugh It Off: The Secret Doula Superpower

Laughter might not be documented in your training manual, but it should be. It’s a stress-buster, a bond builder, and a great way to lighten the mood in tense situations. Try cracking a joke after a long birthing session (timing and audience awareness are key, of course!). A good giggle can refresh the soul just as much as an hour of meditation—plus, it’s more fun.

3. Hydrate Like You’re Prepping for a Marathon (Because You Kind of Are)

Hydration is the unsung hero of doula work. Staying hydrated helps maintain your energy levels, keeps your mind clear, and prevents those pesky headaches that can sneak up after hours in a warm birthing room. Think of your water bottle as an essential tool of the trade—right up there with your comforting presence and soothing words.

4. Find Your Tribe: A Vent Session Does Wonders

Connecting with fellow doulas can be incredibly therapeutic. After all, who better understands the highs and lows of doula life than another doula? Whether it’s a formal support group or an informal coffee meet-up, sharing stories, tips, and maybe some frustrations can help you feel understood and rejuvenated. Plus, it’s a chance to exchange those epic birth stories that only

doulas can truly appreciate it.

5. Set Boundaries Like a Pro

Boundaries are not just for playpens! As doulas, we invest emotionally in our clients’ experiences, which is why it’s vital to know when to step back and recharge. It’s okay to turn off your phone during personal time or to say no when your schedule is packed. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and setting boundaries helps ensure your cup stays at least half-full (or however you prefer your coffee).

6. Engage in Non-Doula Delights

Sometimes, the best way to handle the stresses of doula work is to do something utterly unrelated. Take up a hobby that makes you lose track of time—be it painting, hiking, or even salsa dancing. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation can provide a much-needed break from your professional life and help keep burnout at bay.

7. Practice Saying ‘I Need Help’

It might come as a surprise, but doulas need support too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek help, whether it’s professional counseling or simply talking to a friend. Admitting you need assistance isn’t a weakness; it’s a profound strength and an integral part of self-care.

8. Celebrate Your Wins, Big and Small

Every birth you assist with, every new mom you comfort, and every dad you reassure is a victory. Celebrate these moments. Keep a joy journal or a smile box where you save notes, photos, or little keepsakes from your clients. During tougher days, these mementos can serve as powerful reminders of why you do what you do.

Wrapping It Up With a Smile

So, dear doulas, while you’re out there changing diapers and lives, remember to take a moment for yourselves. Self-care isn’t just about spa days and bubble baths—it’s about keeping your internal well-being in check so you can continue doing the incredible work you do. And if all else fails, remember, there’s nothing that a good doula dance party can’t fix!

Here’s to you, the unsung heroes in the delivery rooms. Keep thriving, keep smiling, and remember, you’re not just helping to bring new lives into the world—you’re also creating a space of love and care that starts with you.


Desiree Wills – Certified Postpartum Doula, DTC Alumni

As a Postpartum Doula, Desiree aims to empower families to approach parenting with self-compassion, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and the understanding that perfection isn’t the goal. She provides essential support, helping families feel more at ease and better prepared for life with a baby, filling the gap that may be left by family and community.


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