I had the privilege of working with a mom yesterday as she birthed her second child. This birth really highlighted the power of birth. At 41 weeks, she was being induced–a pathway she was familiar with having been induced with her first baby. And let me tell you, she was a rock star! She stayed on top of her pressure waves, listened to her body’s cues, and birthed her little boy with one good push about 4.5 hours after the pitocin was started. It really hit me how birthing combines two sides of a woman: her powerful beyond belief side and her vulnerable side. Here was this mom who was clearly doing amazingly well and yet she needed her doulas by her side to tell her that. She needed to hear those words.
“I don’t think I can do this anymore!”
“But you ARE doing it! This baby is going to be here soon! You are birthing your baby!”
“Yes! You are doing beautifully. Your baby is going to be here so soon.”
There were two of us doulas there. When I got there, she was mid-contraction, so I quietly made my way over to where she was working on a birthing ball. As the pressure wave tapered off, I switched spots with the other doula and sat in front of the mom, holding a little fan in front of her face to cool her off. The first thing mom said to me as she looked up in between pressure waves:
“What birthing day affirmations do you have for me?”
So direct. She knew what she needed, what she was craving.
“You are having this baby today!” I said. “You are doing it and your baby is going to be here soon!”
She nodded and geared up for the next wave.
Of course, we used physical comfort measures as well. Lots of counter pressure, a doula pushing on each side of her hips, making sure she stayed cool with her fan, grounding her with our touch, reminding her to relax her face muscles. But what this mom really needed was the emotional support. The peace cues, the assurance that she was doing it and that baby would be here soon, the comfort in our knowledge that from the way her waves were progressing, it was clear that birth was imminent.
This is the work of a doula. To give a woman the space and skills to tap into the fantastic power of her body, while attending to her extremely vulnerable position with lots of encouraging words and touch.
The moment of birth was beautiful. “Relief!” she said as her baby boy slipped out. She was over the moon, riding that amazing birthing wave of endorphins that can leave you feeling elated and on such a high.
It is such an honor to share that space with women, where the vulnerability and the power of birth combine.