Finally, a Book about Self-Care for Birth and Mother-Baby Professionals
Anyone who has worked with me knows the importance I place on self-care. The reason for the emphasis is that I know first-hand what stress can do – I’ve got the malfunctioning adrenal glands to prove it. Although stress happens to just about everyone, the way we nurture ourselves on multiple levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially – plays a large part in our overall wellbeing and how well we are able to manage stress. When IBCLC, birth doula and childbirth educator Micky Jones offered to send me her a copy of her recently published book, “Keep the Fires Burning: Conquering stress and burnout as a Mother-Baby Professional”, I admit I was under a bit of stress in my own life and unsure how I would add a book into the mix of internal drama I was facing. As it turned out, Micky’s book was exactly what I needed. Micky has written a very valuable book for Mother-Baby Professionals in all stages of their career. It is also an important book for those who are considering entering this field, because it provides what many other resources do not – it discusses the reality of the work and the challenges that many birth professionals face. “Keep the Fires Burning” is broken down into three parts:
Part I – A discussion of stress and how it is experienced by many Mother-Baby Professionals (MBP)
A brief history of birth politics is described, and the reader gets a glimpse of a MBP’s role within system and gains an understanding of the strain that can be felt while working within the medical paradigm of birth. Further in the chapter, Western cultural expectations and beliefs are explored, pointing to another source of potential stress in an MBP’s life. Finally, Micky sums up the chapter by providing a succinct list of characteristics that sum up what it’s like to be a Mother-Baby Professional. This list alone would be of great value to a new MBP or anyone considering entering this field.
Part II – Forms of Stress, or the “Six Flames That Can Destroy Your Passion”
The next segment covers several forms of stress – those that could affect anyone, and specific sources of stress for the MBP. Micky describes six forms of stress as intensifying levels of heat, or the “Six Flames That Can Destroy Your Passion”. The six flames are Stress, Secondary Stress, Vicarious Trauma, Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Depression. She continues by scrutinizing empathy and how it plays a part in stress in the Mother-Baby Professional. Then, she considers personal experiences of an MBP and explains how one’s personal history could affect stress levels. A discussion of the stressors unique to MBP’s follows which includes more information about the work that they do and the environments in which they work.
Part III – Eliminating Stress and the Mother-Baby Professional’s Self-Care Plan
After discussing the Six Flames of Stress, the second half of the book is dedicated to “The Six Burn Busters” to eliminate it, along with a variety of specific suggestions, tips and methods that can form the basis of a self-care plan. The Burn Busters are broken down to address two primary areas – Who You Are and What You Do. The six Burn Busters include: Who You Are:
What You Do:
Each Burn Buster is explored in depth and includes a description of each type of self-care, why it’s important to nurture, specific strategies, and the benefits that can be reaped from these suggestions. The final chapter includes a life inventory and personal self-care plan that you can create for yourself. The life inventory includes a list of questions that can help provide you with a more accurate picture of your home and work life. Once you know where you stand, you can create your self-plan using the prompts given in the book. The end of the book includes Micky’s story – her struggle with stress and burnout, and what she did to overcome it and redesign her life. It’s inspirational and a powerful ending to an information-packed toolkit. As a mom, life coach and business owner, my own personal development path was not unlike Micky’s. I’ve been on my own journey of self-discovery and healing for almost 10 years now. While I have practiced much of the self-care strategies that Micky teaches, what was most valuable to me was the validation I felt from reading about the Six Flames of stress and the section on empathy. I have experienced all six flames and let my empathic side get the best of me, and I can see how this led to my experience of burnout and depression. It also led me to realize that I was heading into that downward spiral again and needed to reprioritize and step up the self-care. Note: If you’ve noticed I haven’t been around very much, it was due to the much needed break I over the past six weeks! If you work with expectant and new moms and babies, “Keep the Fires Burning” should be at the top of your Amazon list of books to buy! Seriously. Even if you’re not experiencing stress, the self-care tips and strategies are helpful. If you are experiencing stress, from mild stress to burnout, read it from cover to cover so you can create a self-care plan and regain control of your emotions, health and life. Hale Publishing has published an excerpt of the book online, so go and check it out now. Then by all means, buy the book! You’ll help not only yourself, but you’ll be helping your loved ones and the families you work with. You’re worth it, and I want you to be inspired to continue serving others in this profession.