December 2, 2010 — It is an issue that many women chiropractors face: How do I handle my maternity leave and my practice? Chiropractors share their experiences as new moms in practice. Learn how they dealt with one of the most exciting and life-changing times in their lives.
Laura Avitt, DC, (Davenport ’04), became pregnant while practicing as an associate doctor in a satellite clinic. She was adjusting in the office until she was in labor (“Literally I was having contractions as I saw my last patients of the day!”). She stayed home for three and a half weeks after the birth of her daughter.
“During my absence, the doctor who owned the clinic covered my patients for up to two days a week,” says Avitt. “It made it difficult to cram a normal four-and-a-half-day week into two days, but there are always some patients who won’t see anyone but you. Those patients were well aware that I was going to be off for a few weeks, so they waited for my return.”
When she came back to the office, her daughter came with her for four months, which is not a rare occurrence for new mom chiropractors.
Barbara Read, DC, (Davenport, ’97) said, “I had always wanted to have a practice where I could bring my child with me. Since it was a new practice, when I hired my receptionist, I explained right away that childcare may be in her job description. She knew that before she took the job, so it wasn’t a surprise.”
Read’s first son, Alex, came with her to the office right away. She would schedule patients for one hour then break for an hour.
“Pretty soon Alex’s schedule got more predictable, and we would fill in the schedule around his clock. Yes, he ran the place!” she said. “When I was with my patients, my receptionist would have him behind the desk with her. When we would have a break, I would nurse him and get my Alex fix.”
Elizabeth Hoefer, DC, (Davenport ’08), was only in full-time practice for two months before she and her husband found out they were expecting. While it was not the way she had intended to start her career, she discovered it was a great opportunity to educate people about pregnancy and chiropractic.
Hoefer worked with another doctor, and he added hours to his schedule each week while she took a total of four months off (one before she gave birth and three after).
Before her leave, the other doctor was present for patient visits so that her patients could get familiar with him. When she returned, she decided on a three-day per week schedule to have time to spend with her daughter, Makayla.
“I recommend that you allow yourself plenty of time after the baby is born to go back to the office,” said Hoefer. “Being a chiropractor is a very physically and mentally demanding job. Ease back into the process of being away from your baby — and don’t over-do taking care of everyone else and not yourself.”
“It’s important to communicate with your patients,” said Avitt. “Keep them informed of your plans and while you are on leave via your staff, with a blog or your website. They love to see pictures and updates on how you are all doing!”
Read, as well as other mom chiropractors, found that her patients enjoyed the babies at the office, too. Patients told her they admired her for keeping her children (three total) with her as long as she could before using daycare.
Many of Avitt’s patients volunteered to hold her babies, calling it “baby therapy.” They were also sad when the babies eventually moved on to daycare.
“There is absolutely no reason you can’t be a great mom and a great chiropractor,” said Hoefer. “Just be realistic about what you want and what is best for you and your family and your practice.”
“Follow your instincts,” said Read. “Innate intelligence transcends into motherhood, too. You know what’s best for your family and your practice more than anyone. When you are true to your beliefs and convictions, you really can have a beautiful balance between your calling to chiropractic and to your family.”
This story is an extended version of one recently published in Palmer College of Chiropractic’s alumni magazine Insights.
Source: Palmer College of Chiropractic, www.palmer.edu