It didn’t take long attending births before I realized that I had some little rituals I did afterward. At first I just wrote it off; Of course, I’d be hungry, I’d just worked really hard! Of course, I needed a shower! It was hard work and I felt grimy. It wasn’t until I started talking to other doulas that I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had a ritual, and it wasn’t all about being practical, though sometimes it was.
Meagan Thompson has one very similar to one of mine, she says, “I take off my shoes and socks and switch back into the ones I wore on my way to the birth. I put the ones I wore during the birth into the trunk and very mindfully shut the door. It helps me transition back to my own space and out of the birth space.”
When I asked doulas what their rituals were, I really expected to hear a lot about self-care. While I did hear some self-care, I also heard a lot about eating meat or fast food. Mary Jo Podgurski explained it nicely, “I usually get fast food take out of the teen’s choice and bring it to her. It’s typically the only time I eat that stuff. I need to confess that a greasy hamburger and fries with a shake, consumed after 15 – 20 hours of labor support, sitting beside a new and proud mom, tastes really great.” Though I chuckled when she said other words that also spoke to my aging heart, she said, “I’m getting old. My personal ritual involves sleep!”
Melissa Harley wonders if it’s about fatigue, “I tend to gravitate towards the junky food if I’m really tired from a birth.”
I love that both IHOP and Waffle House got a mention. Toni Gambrell orders the same meal she craved when pregnant from Waffle House, while Nicki Bradley says this of IHOP, “It is disgusting any other time but something about the grease and sugar after a long late night birth just hits the spot.”
One doula even told me, “I am feeling the solidarity seeing all of the doulas say they head straight for junk food afterward. I almost always head straight for a Big Mac. McD’s was closed this morning still when I left (the hospital) and I’ve felt cheated all day. But I love that we’ve all secretly been doing that! What a wavelength!”
And I chuckled that Naomi Voss says, she doesn’t even wait until after the birth, “I used to get a vanilla kreme filled donut on the way to births with a large coffee. #doulasrunondunkin” I can totally get behind that ritual.
Rebecca Mercer reminds us that sometimes it’s not just you that you have to think about when it comes to food after the birth, “…depends on the birth, where the kids are, how long I’ve been awake and so on.”
It also doesn’t have to be about food says Susan Linville, “If it’s the middle of the night when I get home I love a glass of bourbon while lying in bed and doing something mindless like playing a game or scrolling through Instagram. There’s nothing sweeter than a glass of wine or bourbon after a job well done.”
Though sometimes the real world is knocking at your door after you’ve been checked out so long. Lacey Park says that her ritual is to “Drive home, check all emails and return any calls, then sleep like I haven’t slept for a week, even after a short one.”
Self-care did get some mentions. Tori Gambrell says that “…depending on time/season/weather I either spend time decompressing in nature or I watch a feel-good show until the sleepy kicks in.”
Denise Bolds has her ritual down pat, “Strip down and bathe in antibacterial soap along with Black soap. Then I go to my altar and say prayers with lit candle and white sage. I then hydrate and take some Tylenol and have a power nap.”
Margie Wallis also listed shower at the top but then suggests another good idea, “Then go to foot reflexology.” This aligns with Andrea Hewitt’s advice to “Definitely get acupuncture ASAP!”
“I call to see how soon my massage therapist can get me in if the birth required a lot of physical support,” says Mary Duke.
I think Molly Tietjen summed it up the best, “I always have trail mix in my bag for the ride home. When I get home I take a hot shower, drink ice-cold water, take two Tylenol, and then take a really long nap.”