Sunday, September 18, 2011


If I were given only one word to sum up my experiences attending births, I would use the word between. Labor and delivery are neither here nor there, not exactly of the world of linear time. Time stretches out, mostly, though sometimes it rushes by, as the mother moves through the stages of labor, transition and birth. Numbers on clocks and calendars are rendered meaningless by the enormous spiral of energy that completes itself in childbirth.

The woman involved is not still pregnant, but neither has she had her baby. She's between in other ways, too, breathing between contractions, navigating between stages of labor, etc. The baby is, too. And all of us standing around in the room, witnessing, feel between, too. Attending a birth is an experience outside of time and what we usually think of as "reality." It's an epic experience, not that different from any one of the myths or legends. It requires courage, stamina, focus, devotion and surrender, too, to the mysteries. Oftentimes, the mother and father experience every conceivable emotion as the labor unfolds.

The funny stories people tell about the mother cursing or shouting? I believe this behavior is a signal that the mother is gathering the energy she will need to push the baby out. I tell pregnant women to allow their inner bitch full rein in those moments. I think it helps, I really do.

A friend says during labor she was doing a lot of vocalizing. Finally a nurse came into the room and said, "What's wrong?" My friend shouted, "I'M HAVING A BABY!" Indeed.

Depending on what's happening with the mother, as a doula I try to anticipate what she needs, make it available when she needs it. Of course this isn't entirely possible, but in some way, at least TRYING to provide what she needs seems to assist in the process. I squeeze the mother's feet or push on the places that are hurting, like the lower back, for instance. I get orange juice or ginger ale, ask questions of the nurses when needed. I'm there for the mother 100%, sharing the energy, moving and channeling as best I can, using every one of the skills I learned as a high priestess. Childbirth is moving and dramatic. No one can predict exactly how it will unfold, no one.

In the end, a baby comes into the room. It is always a miracle even though everyone knew it was going to happen.

The role of doula is a challenge, it is rigorous. Already I'm making sure I get enough sleep, I'm eating well, taking care. When my client's labor starts, I will need all my wits about me. It's not too early to begin to gather my energies together.

The role of doula is an honor. I look forward to it! Shalom.

1 comment:

jeanette from everton terrace said...

You know Reya, you almost always seem to write about something I've either been thinking about or have JUST had a conversation about. A friend and I were just discussing whether we cared about other people in the room when we gave birth. My husband wants to be in the room with Meghan when she has a baby - not watch it come out or anything, just in the room. I will not be in the room. I fainted when they took the stitches out of her leg :)