Is birth work your calling? Research says it is for about a third of doulas, nurses, midwives, educators, and other birth workers.
Are you a birth professional to make money, to make a living, or to make a difference?
In a past life, almost 10 years ago, I was a middle school remedial reading teacher. I got the job fresh out of school, and the assistant principal took me to a corner room, gave me a key, and said, “Have a good year.” I had almost 300 students, and 85% of the naughty ones.
When the first paycheck came, I was standing in the teacher’s mailroom/lounge. I opened up the envelope and said out loud, “We get paid for this?!”
Yeah, I was pretty popular among my colleagues.
The job was not easy, but there was nothing I enjoyed more.
Working with pregnant families is not easy. Most of us are on call a good portion of our lives. Emotions run high, there are so many questions, and our words as professionals are heavy with power.
The responsibility of caring for people at such a delicate crossroads can be awe-full.
Birth is a big deal. There is no bigger deal.
Why did you get into this? Was it a kind of natural accident? Is it because you love babies or like learning about birth, or had a life-altering experience yourself?
Regardless of your path to this place, what keeps you here? What does being a part of birthing do for you? It does something for you, or you wouldn’t still be here.
Is it the money?
Well, I hope so. I hope you are compensated fairly for your work.
Not that you can’t offer your services to people in need of them from time to time, but you shouldn’t sell yourself short. You and your services have definite value.
But the question here is, is that the driving force bringing you back? A job is a way to make enough money to get by and to more fully enjoy your time not working. We all need our down time, but is that why you do this?
If birth work is mostly about the paycheck, you probably don’t see it as going anywhere in particular and your feelings about the work are either negative or neutral.
Or, maybe you do it for the possibilities or the honor of being involved.
All those people who rely on you…the company car, the Hilton points, the opportunities for advancement. I think most of us appreciate the laud and honor, the thanks when we make a difference.
If you see birth work as a career, you are serious about where you are going with it. You want to do better, learn more. You are ambitious. You feel excited about your prospects and feel good about your role.
Then again, maybe birth work is really enjoyable, fulfilling, and a strong positive aspect of your life.
You would do as much of it as you could, even if you weren’t paid. You know what you do makes a difference. If this is you, being a birth worker is an inseparable part of your life and identity right now. For you, for now, birth work is a calling.
A study of worker’s relationships to their work revealed that, irrespective of the type of work, 1/3 of people doing it think of it as just a job, 1/3 view it as a career, and 1/3 feel that what they do is a calling.
There’s nothing wrong with doing a job for the job’s sake. But if you can find something else to inspire you in (or outside) of it, you won’t have to spend your time doing just a job.
Being a middle school teacher paid the bills, but it also made me feel alive. I still love teaching. When I am teaching, I am in flow. It’s a major positive aspect of my life.
I remember reading about a woman who worked on an assembly line checking for leaks in medical tubing used in neonatal incubators. She said she loved her work, always tried to enhance the mood in the workplace, and came up with ideas to make things better or more efficient. When asked what her job was, she said, “I save babies lives.”
What do you do?