Comforting Touch for Self-Care:
3 Tips for Doulas and other Birth Pros
When we think about Comforting Touch as doulas and other birth pros, rarely are we thinking about self-care. Our focus is usually on the recipient and how to give to others. For this post, I’m directing the conversation back to us, the givers and how to think about the power of touch through the lens of self-care.
Self-care Comforting Touch tip #1: use your body weight
At the top of my list for how to offer our touch with a focus on self-care, I turn to “massage therapy 101.” Whether it is out of a hesitancy to touch in general, a concern around going too deep, or something else, let this be your official invitation to lean into your clients more.
If it’s too much or unwelcome, your client will let you know, either verbally or with their body language by tensing up or pulling away. Otherwise, in my 20+ year experience as a doula, when touch is welcome during birth, clients tend to want more pressure, more presence, not less.
Leaning in and using your body weight for those *hip squeezes and back counter-pressure(*great place to link to a related post on counter-pressure or hip squeezes if you have) will save your own back because the oomph will come from your whole body weight, not just the muscular strength or lack thereof of one or two muscles.
Self-care Comforting Touch tip #2? Make time to receive touch for yourself!
If you need to, give yourself a raise and treat yourself to your favorite kind of bodywork for each birth or postpartum client hire.
This is one of the best ways to ground yourself after a birth or postpartum shift. To release your tension. To replenish your energy. To feel loved and cared for when you’re coming down from that oxytocin high without a baby to keep snuggling. To relax your tired muscles.
Can’t get in with your massage therapist for a week? Ask someone in your life for a nice long juicy hug.
If what you really need is more of a tension release for a tired back, try using a tennis ball instead of hands. Lie down on the floor on your back with knees bent and feet planted. Place the ball under your back wherever the pressure feels good anywhere along your spine (to the left or right side of the spine, not directly on it). Then let your backside sink into gravity allowing the pressure to melt your tension away.
Feel free to roll the ball around, up and down your back, or side to side if that feels good. You can even try rolling it down to your buttocks. If you need to find another spot, just lift up and relocate the ball in a different spot or on the other side of the same area. Heaven!
Self-care Comforting Touch tip #3...Touch yourself!
Did you know that we can actually tend to our own nervous systems through self-touch? Whether you explore a healing modality like tapping or consider the simple soothing strokes of Havening Touch (see below), the ability to self-soothe is right at our fingertips any time.
Having a rough moment at a birth? Feeling stressed during your post-birth recovery? Try Self-Havening. This self-hug-like movement truly is a self-hug.
Stroke your arms down from the shoulders to your elbows on repeat for 1-5 minutes. Gently, but firmly, at a nice slow pace. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths. I dare you not to feel more calm by doing this.
In short, whether you’re a doula or a birth pro on the giving or receiving end of Comforting Touch, (or both!), self-care is something you can always keep in mind, prioritize, and access anytime. If you have yet to incorporate any of these tips into your repertoire, give them a try and let us know how it goes!