being on call for a birth

what do labouring women need

I am currently on call to attend a birth as a doula – work I adore but don’t do as often as I would like because it takes a lot of commitment and family needs have to come first but I am able to attend four births a year, which I can do around my family and my other work commitments.


So what does being on call mean?

  • It means being available , possibly at fairly short notice to provide emotional and practical support and encouragement to a woman – and her partner – in labour. I often get called out before the midwife in a homebirth or before the parents go to the hospital so I need my phone to hand and be ready to head out the door when I am needed.
  • It means NO DRINKING! And as a gal who likes a little tipple or two…It’s actually ok but it does mean I can’t have a pint or two on a night out.
  • It means being close by – I didn’t go away with my family last weekend because I didn’t want to be too far away and phone reception wasn’t great and I did turn down a night out but I did have a wonderfully relaxing evening with the house all to myself instead. And I don’t go too far with the kids at weekends incase I get a call, especially when it isn’t a first baby. At weekend we often head off to see family or drive up the coast for the day so this is on hold when I am call. 
  • As I have children and a husband who can work away, I need to be organised and I need the kids to be taken care of in case I have to dash off.
  • The phone is always charged and on full volume next to me in bed at night.
  • My doula bag is packed and goes with me in the car.
  • Planning things is sometimes difficult when I am on call because I might have to cancel or rearrange but my husband and children are well briefed but I go with the flow as much as I can – I went to a gig last weekend which was brilliant and I had my phone on vibrate in my pocket because there’s no way I would have heard it and I am going to the NE Bloggers Awards tonight.


It’s no hardship but it does take commitment. And this is what I do, it is all worth it to have the privilege of supporting parents during the birth of their baby. To be able to provide reassurance and practical help, to be able to help parents feel confident and calm and this is all worth having to be a bit more organised and not having a few glasses of wine. Like any other birth doula, I am passionate about what I do and, in addition to being on call, I could be with parents for a few hours or a couple of days. I have held hands, I have massaged, I have filled birth pools, I have breathed through contractions for hours, I have protected, I have held bed pans, I have cuddled, I have worked as a team with midwives, I have provided steady eye contact to connect and reassure. It’s the best job in the world and it’s worth every penny.








About Janine 664 Articles
As an experienced and qualified practitioner, I specialise in pregnancy, birth and parent support - my aim is to listen, inform, support and reassure when needed. I have worked with parents since 2002 and I set up Birth, Baby & Family in 2011 to provide good information, different voices and links to the best products and services for families.