A Day in the Life of a Doula
The first thing you should know about a normal day in the life of a doula is that there is no such thing as a normal day in the life of a doula. Postpartum soup-making, poring over birth books, and capturing the exact moment someone brings their baby earth-side (the best bit) is all par for the course. That being said, here’s a glimpse into one particularly lovely day in my life as a birth doula.
11:00 AM – RISE
My mother will tell you that even as a baby I would sleep peacefully until 9 or so, apart from one Christmas Day when my parents woke to find that, having just learnt to read my own name, I had opened every present under the tree labelled “ZOE” by 6:30am. Not much has changed; I still love opening presents and a proper sleep-in. My iPhone chimes and I pop the kettle on.
12:00 PM – INSTAGRAM
Apart from referrals, almost all of my clients find me through @milkandblossom. I make a concerted effort to keep my feed and website current with my latest work, and I prioritise simplicity across my packages. I’ve generally found that quality content and branding, authentic writing, and the somewhat reluctant use of hashtags have contributed to strong engagement. Personally, I’m less concerned with the number of followers I have – I pay closer mind to meaningful connections and visual inspiration.
1:00 PM – FILM LAB
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with analog film photography. I know what you’re thinking: “Can you even get that stuff developed?” The answer is yes! One of my favourite parts of doula work is capturing the fleeting moments of early parenthood. The bump, the birth, and the newborn thigh dimples are all gone so soon, and I’ve never had a single person regret having photos taken. Today, I stop by my favourite lab in Toronto to pick up a roll of yummy Kodak Portra 400 film for today’s shoot.
2:00 PM – PHOTOSHOOT
My beautiful client Sonia opens the door and her arms. It’s always such a joy to visit clients – especially Sonia and her husband Sam who have made it tradition to spoil me with homemade cakes and panettone (who is the doula here??). An impromptu mini-shoot to snap some baby announcement photos while it’s sunny; the most wonderful way to share the news with friends and family! My top tips for baby reveal photos? Wear neutrals or block colours that will keep your photos timeless (form-fitting if you’re early in your pregnancy to show off that bump), always seek natural light, and be yourselves. Wear socks, leave the coffee mug on the table, laugh lots. This isn’t Vogue, it’s real life and it’s even more beautiful.
4:00 PM – ADMIN
From day one I made sure all of my client documents (terms & conditions, invoices and resources) were aesthetically enjoyable, and simple to read. One key learning for every small business owner is to set clear boundaries and expectations, which for me looks like a bespoke contract and transparent pricing. While I’m still in Admin Land, I reply to emails, organise an upcoming press photoshoot, and add some doula bag items to my cart.
Next, I tick off one item from my DONA International Certification packet. I type out the draft of my essay on “the purpose and value of a doula”; a task I enjoy. The challenge is condensing the benefits of doula care into 1000 words or less.
6:00 PM – COFFEE CONSULT
We meet up halfway in the Distillery District. It’s cold outside and I instantly click with this couple as we sip our warm drinks. I offer complimentary consults to all of my clients, with the firm belief that parents should choose the doula that’s right for them. If I’m the best person to support them, it will feel natural and light. I always seek to understand how they wish to be supported, and what kind of birth they are hoping for.
8:00 PM – EDITING
The negatives have been developed and boy are they dreamy! I always hold my breath when I open the scans (you never truly know what you’re going to get) but just like in birth, you have to trust the process. Editing and gallery curating with a healthy slice of said Panettone.
10:00 PM – PROJECT
A quick call with our developer in New York to discuss the free birthing app that we’re launching next month. I always find that the projects I have the most energy for are the things I’m truly passionate about, and this venture is no exception. As a doula, I strongly believe that every parent deserves to feel confident and excited to meet their baby, and my hope is that this app will be a useful tool for improving the early labour experience.
11:00 PM – ZOE TIME
Late night sushi and ice-cream at home with my love. I run an epsom salt bath (my ritual at least twice a week) and pretend the pandemic doesn’t exist for one blissful hour.
Before I fall asleep, I call my own mum in Australia who I miss dearly to wish her a happy birthday, and apologise for that time I opened all of my Christmas presents at 6 o’clock in the morning.
Zoe is an alumni of the Doula School. She’s an wonderful doula and the founder of milkandblossom.com. Where you can find birth doula, photography, wedding packages, and more. You can follow Zoe on Instagram at @milkandblossom