I learned how to drive a stick-shift in my older brother’s very touchy small truck. We drove around his neighborhood with that truck jerking in fits for hours, and my brother was VERY patient with me. This may have been the only time in his life that he was patient with me, but it really is a fond memory for me. I was visiting him in Virginia Beach where he was stationed in the Navy at the time, and he wanted to teach me this skill. I wasn’t really that excited to learn, but I am really still glad that I did learn as it has been a good thing to know more than once. It was new and awkward and scary in the moment, but once I got the hang of it, I felt more confident to try other things.
This story keeps coming to my mind as we all are trying to navigate the new territory of being a childbirth professional in a world with COVID-19. We are almost all learning new skills that we perhaps thought, yeah, that might be useful to know someday in the future, but weren’t all completely prepared to dive into just yet. Every doctor, nurse, and midwife I know who works in a hospital is stressed to the max right now. Every midwife I know who attends home births is fielding more calls than ever. Every lactation consultant I know is figuring out how to assess latch virtually. Every childbirth educator is suddenly trying to do everything online. Every doula I know is trying to figure out what the policies of the locations are where they attend births and what is right for their family at this time. We are feeling those jerking fits right now, and that is to be expected.
The best thing I have been able to do with my doula clients and childbirth education students is to COMMUNICATE with them. I have been messaging with them much more than usual, and even offering extra virtual prenatal appointments with them to go through all of our contingency plans. I have been communicating with ALL of my current doula clients due in 2020 so that they know what is going on, and with the administration at all the hospitals I attend births at to find out what their current policy is on doulas as well. I have cancelled my in-person childbirth education classes and am instead offering virtual courses, much the same as Sharon Muza is doing in Seattle, like she spoke about on our 26th podcast episode. I’ve been sending both doula and childbirth education clients to the Supporting Her** online class that Alice Turner developed too. Alice has a great FREE Birth A to Z class that you might be interested in sending people to too, and Lamaze has this FREE class about Labor Confidence too. There are a ton of other online classes taught by people I know and trust too, so have a look around if you are looking for something to fill the gap with your clients and students while you figure out your next shift and how that is going to look.
I am going to be using this shifting down time to learn some new skills for my business and do some reading. If that is something you are interested in, we have a few great lists for you: New Books for Birth Geeks as well as the DONA certification reading lists for birth doulas and postpartum doulas. If business is where you are looking to learn more, you can find some links to birth business courses here that you might be interested in exploring. Robin has been really busy training all kinds of new doulas this year so far, and she is hosting an online 3 hour Breastfeeding for Birth Professionals class that will count toward your certification as well if you are interested.
Professional Information on COVID-19
While you are shifting down, if you are interested in geeking out on all the publicly available data that we have right now for COVID-19, I highly recommend this Johns Hopkins site. I also keep watching AWHONN, ACNM, MANA, & ACOG too for the latest information. Additionally Lamaze just published a great post about what childbirth educators need to know about COVID-19. If you are not in communication with your local hospitals, I highly recommend opening that conversation now. It has been great for me to be able to confirm policy when rumors are running around online groups.
Things are shifting, and we want everyone to stay safe out there. My family is practicing social isolation, and virtual support for my birth doula clients is more than likely going to become reality, even if only for a short time. With my kids at home from school until at least August, I have also had to shift down my expectations of productivity. That’s ok. These jerking fits will not last. We will adjust to this new normal. Take care of yourself, and allow yourself time to learn these skills even if they are something you just dabbled with in the past. Shifting down may not have been expected, but I am confident in your ability to adapt!
“Adaptability enforces creativity, and creativity is adaptability.” –Pearl Zhu
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