When the contractions have subsided, the pushing groans have quieted, and baby is earth-side, skin to skin with the body that has housed and grown her for the past +/- 40 weeks, and the birthing person looks up at me and says, “I could not have done that without you!” I know she’s wrong, no one did it but her. I also know that the truth to that statement is, having a companion, cheerleader, hand to hold, shoulder to cry on, and a heart believing in the strength of the birthing body is absolutely advantageous. Continuous support and trust helps the birther unlock their courage and strength from deep within.
The way my mom talked about giving birth was always positive, “You just breath and trust your body.” After my sister’s home birth, the glow and energy she had was wildly contagious, “If I could do that everyday for the rest of my life, I WOULD!” Balancing these positive experiences with the world around that feeds us images of birth as a dangerous, scary, brisk emergency situations that only doctors can manage, felt like such a contradiction.
Through my training, continued education and hands-on experience, I have learned the key to narrowing that gap is knowledge and empowerment. Knowing the facts, being provided evidence based information, and being given the space to trust their body and intuition, are game changers.
A healthy, happy baby is not the only criterion for a positive birth outcome. A parent being heard, respected, trusted, supported, and included in every decision along the way, is a parent who is most likely to have a positive experience. Being empowered and finding the strength to be an active participant throughout the birth process will encourage those same boundaries in parenthood. The choices made in pregnancy and birth are the firsts in a lifetime of decisions that you will make as a parent of your child.
Being a doula does not mean I step in and make decisions or speak for families, but I do hold the space for them to ask questions, request second/third/fourth opinions, and advocate for themselves. I am there reminding them of the strength and wisdom they already have within.
So when I am asked, “Why is having support surrounding pregnancy, birth and postpartum important?” My answer is, because the way we birth effects the way we parent, and the way we parent effects our children, and our children change the world.