Tips for Handling the On-Call Life

DON’T STOP LIVING YOUR LIFE.

Plan each day so that you don’t waste it. While you may think a mom may go into labor, sitting at home waiting for the call is only a sure way to make sure you have no life.

LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.

If you are thinking about a mama, call her! It is very likely something is happening and she may not want to bother you. It may mean nothing, but a quick call to tell her that she is on her mind will help her feel loved.

CHECK YOUR CELL PHONE.

This is especially important right before you go to bed. Be sure vibrate hasn’t accidentally been turned on. Make sure it is fully charged. If you are worried, bring a cordless into the room just in case. There is nothing worse than waking up to missed calls from a client. If you have a Bluetooth, be sure to turn it off so you hear the phone ring!

AVOID ALCOHOL.

When on call, it is always a safe bet to not drink or take any medications that alter your ability to stay awake. Melatonin is a safe alternative if you need something to help you sleep. Always check with your doctor first.

STAY CLOSE TO HOME.

Generally it is best to stay within 30-60 minutes of your home (or client’s birth place) when you are on call. If you know you will have to travel far, pack your gear and
bring it with you so you don’t have to go back home to get it before heading to the birth.

PLAN A VACATION.

Even if you don’t go anywhere, make sure you have at least a week a couple times a year when you are NOT on-call. Your body, mind, soul and family will appreciate it.

BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES.

It is a good idea to keep a change of clothes in your car. Rushing from a black tie event, forgetting your sweatshirt at 3am, being hugged by a chocolate covered toddler… the possibilities are endless. Having clothes ready will pay off. Sometimes they may prove necessary at the birth as well.

BRUSH YOUR TEETH. EAT A SNACK. TAKE A NAP.

Make sure that you are taking care of yourself. It does your clients no good to have you show up exhausted and starving. Make sure that you take a moment before rushing out the door to eat or freshen up. If you are able, take a nap during the day if you suspect a mom will be in labor soon.

DON’T RUIN THE PARTY.

If you are out with friends, don’t carpool. If you have a client go into labor, those who rode with you will have to leave the party early. Get used to driving yourself so you can make a speedy and discrete exit when necessary.

HAVE A UNIFORM.

Decide ahead of time on clothing that is comfortable and suitable for a birth. Remember, you may have to spend days in them or sleep in them. A comfortable bra and underwear are a must. Once you have a uniform, keep it clean and set aside for a moment’s notice.

TALK TO YOUR SPOUSE.

The support of your spouse and family will make or break this life. It is a life, not a job. It can easily take over your existence. You may find yourself missing birthdays,
holidays, first steps, illnesses, and date nights. If your family is not supportive, this may not be the job for you. It isn’t an all or nothing existence though. Limiting the number of births you take and the amount of time you are on call will help you balance this out. There is nothing wrong with saying no to a potential client due over Christmas.

CHECK IN WITH CHILDCARE.

If you have children you will need childcare for, be sure you know how to get a hold of them quickly. Have back up arrangements just in case. Being in contact
with them as a mom gets closer will help make the switch happen more quickly as well as give you peace of mind.

USE YOUR CELL PHONE.

Program in all the numbers you will need in a pinch. Back up photographers, spouse, childcare, hair dresser, dentist, doctor, soccer coach, etc. What?! I know you may think that list odd, but if you rush out the door to a birth when your 5 yr old has a dentist appointment, a soccer game, or you have a hair appointment, having those numbers available will save you time and cut stress. Be sure to program in all of your clients numbers so you are sure to answer when they call you.

WEAR YOUR PHONE.

When you are going about your daily life, get in the habit of always having your cell phone on you. If you swim or workout without it, then put it in an easily accessible
location. Check on it every 15 minutes. If your phone is on vibrate while you are in a movie, church or other location requiring it to be silent, be sure you can tell if it vibrates. Wearing it between your body and your waistband or tucking under your leg while sitting will help you feel the vibrations!

SAVE YOUR MONEY.

Don’t buy expensive tickets to plays, sporting events, or concerts unless you are willing to walk out having seen nothing. If you can’t miss the event and are willing to take the chance, be sure you have a plan to leave quickly and quietly.

HAVE FUN! ABOVE ALL ELSE, REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE THE BEST JOB EVER. YOU GET TO WITNESS A MIRACLE FOR WORK!

BirthElizabeth Boyce