by Traci Weafer
Back when I first begin doula work, I heard a lot of buzz about empowering women in labor. I read books, articles, and blogs. I went to conferences about birth, training's about how doulas work, and bought other doula things that hopefully shed some like on how to empower women in labor.
I often caught myself picturing mom’s faces squinting in pain with a support person beside her, holding her hand giving her words of encouragement. Sometimes in these pictures candles were lit so mom could find her center and dig deep inside her while she rode the waves of the contractions. The support of the doula gave the birther a sense of comfort and in turn gave her power somehow. Although the picture painted above may have some truth, the truth is an individual birther has been created with her own power.
give (someone) the authority or power to do something.
make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.
Over time as I gained experience through my work with the graciousness of every family who trusted me enough to hire me, I realized that I was NEVER giving the power to labor.
If we can be honest for a moment, as doula’s we can’t support, push on a back or hold space enough to transfer the authority to a birther to labor.
Labor in reference to childbirth is a physiological involuntary process that will happen with or without us present.
Now, as we build our relationships with our clients we listen, counsel, educate along with debrief past births to prepare for the pending birth you’re preparing for. We build strength with education and informed decisions which builds confidence when reaching those decisions. That’s Empowerment.
As labor begins, we provide a cushion to validate feelings and help reduce fear. We offer a safe place to the birther to be vulnerable as we watch the uncertainty fade away. That’s Empowerment.
When in the mist of exhausting heat of battle, we reflect on information shared with us and a birther shows fear or anxiety, we whisper “it’s ok” and lend a hand to hold reminding them of the safe place you provide. That’s Empowerment.
After a long night and day, laboring tips into suffering and she’s asking for help as you hear her say, “I can’t do this. I’m done, I’m saying the safe word.” We reply, “You are being very strong right now knowing your limits. There are no wrong answers today.” That’s Empowerment.
An unexpected C-Section takes place and we spend time with a birther building confidence that she did nothing wrong. That’s Empowerment.
The power that surfaces during a pregnancy, labor and birth of a birther has nothing to do with a doula. The Doula helps a birther find her own confidence in the safety of understanding during the most vulnerable time in her life. Could a mom find this power without a doula? Sure, but would you want to kayak without a paddle?