Midwives give so much to women! We give our skills, complete call availability, personal time, relationships, and health. Being on call all the time is focused around client satisfaction and making them top priority in life. By putting birth first, all other relationships and personal self care is put second and many times last if available. Obstetrics is full of legal pressure and stress is high to give the best care and still protect your business and yourself. Most of what we do is amazing and great, it is just very difficult to separate work and personal life with this profession.
Our care is very important and needed across the United States and world. Average midwife burns out around 7 years of practice. I want to get rid business of midwifery burnout. We can do it, but need to have a support network of midwives to give us personal breaks. Even having a solo practice an allow breaks if you put the correct relationships in place. Talk with your other home birth or birth center colleagues and cover for each other. Create a midwife community weekly meeting, group agreed upon payments for services and coverage to each other, and prenatal visits done with all the midwives potentially covering for birth calls.
Take vacations, take days off each week, attend family get together, and separate life and work life the best you can. We have a very demanding job being available all the time and needing back up plans for everything we do. That makes constant levels of cortisol in our body just brew. Make blocked times for kids sporting events, music recitals, musicals, vacations, and date nights. If you didn’t get a good night’s sleep or had a traumatic birth, have midwifery back up coverage options to give yourself time to heal from sleep deprivation and emotional trauma. Good daily sleep is vital for anyone.
Self care is vital for being a midwife, mother, wife, sister, and daughter. Haven’t you ever heard we can’t put the oxygen mask on someone else until we put our oxygen mask on first? We can do a better job caring for our clients and family when we put ourselves FIRST! With daily exercise, meditation, boundaries on personal life from work, gratitude journals, life couches, good support network, and vacations really protect midwives from professional burnout. Don’t become a “midwife nun” and devote your entire life purpose to midwifery. Some women choose to pick that style of midwifery, but most want a work/life balance.
Miracle Morning routine has really helped me with coping with stress and managing a highly productive daily routine. It isn’t about how many things you are doing in a day. It is about how you can cope with stress and manage boundaries to protect your personal well being. Midwives are great at caring for others, but terrible about caring for ourselves. Have a friend monthly meet up retreat. Make weekly date nights with partner. Have a weekly family day trip and activity. Schedule your day, week, and month to get a midwife to cover those times for you. Have a partner see women with you and cover for each other. Truly separate from work and turn off your work phone.
Change your contracts with women to break down portions of services versus global flat rate for entire maternity service. Charge for prenatal visits individually, testing, call time, birth attendance, birth assistant, supplies, postpartum home visits, and newborn care. Set expectations that at beginning of care that client is joining a team approached midwifery team versus solo practice for availability. Stress importance of midwifery self care and personal separation time needed to give better care to women.
When you are feeling professional burnout, don’t take on a student at that time. Don’t recreate the wheel of burnout and showing midwifery students what work/life balance truly looks like. Midwifery students are demanding and increase stress level to practice. Wait until your practice structure is in a place to support a student. We preach self care and promote to our women and families that we are doing what we actual recommend. Action speaks louder than words. If you are healthy, attentive, empowering ourselves, eating well, passionate, personal life, and sleeping good each night, our women will model our image of healthy living.
Have outside hobbies and passion from midwifery. Join art or cooking classes, pursue other passionate avenues of your life, and life to your soul’s purpose. I don’t think we were put on this Earth to just be midwives. Take care of yourself to prevent midwifery burnout. Create a good foundation of healthy living and stress reducing coping mechanism in place. Good, long term habit changes will create a strong foundation for your midwifery career and personal life dreams!
“Self care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on this Earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” -Parker Jay Palmer, Let Your Life Speak