Pressure. Not the push-the-baby-out kind.
I was lucky in my pregnancy. I didn’t have unusual sickness, I was able to stay mobile, and I was able to keep working until my due date. But as soon as my due date hit, I had to stay home.
It wasn’t anything about my pregnancy that made for the change. It was the pressure. The pressure from my co-workers and customers made me want to curl up and cry. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, they say, and it was starting to feel like my own personal hell.
The day after my due date I walked in to, “You’re STILL pregnant!”
It was the first time in my pregnancy that my body felt broken, that I had done something wrong. Was I a bad mother for not delivering my baby when I was “supposed” to?
I had read the books and taken the classes so I knew that the average first time mom doesn’t deliver until she is 41+ weeks.
I knew that, but I felt different.
Up until my due date, I was in the throws of fall. Friends were going to corn mazes people were trying to find last minute Halloween costumes. Because I was due on October 30th I made zero plans for the holiday, thinking hopefully, I’d be holding my baby.
So now, every fall, as parents are looking for festivals and pumpkin patches, whenever I see I pregnant woman, it comes back. Trying to relax is very hard when it feels like your entire community is waiting for you to have a baby.
I know I’m not the only one who has felt this pressure. As I doula for more and more women, it seems it is almost unavoidable. So if you have a pregnant woman in your life, perhaps to REALLY help her, be a safe place for her to rest.
Keep the Pressure Off
Finding a way to describe what I do sometimes leaves me feeling unfulfilled. I provide physical, emotional, and educational support to women and their partners in labor… Yeah…but what does THAT mean.
Talk to a woman who hired a doula for her birth, and she most likely will tell you it was essential that her doula was present. Talk to that mom before hand and she won’t sound as enthusiastic. But how can she know what amazing adventure she is about to go through and how she will get through it, and how it will change her?
That’s what I do. I am able to take women down a winding path, take them by the hand in a way, and guide them through labor. Like a shady forest, with hills and knotty roots, and bends, I help that woman find her way and accompany her journey. Encourage her to keep going. Show her better ways to sit, or lean.
The exchange is mutual. For as I help her through moments, she gains her voice, telling me to push harder or softer, telling me she needs to move. She shows me her way through this journey, and I store that to use with the next mom, the next birth.
There are hundreds of books about birth and there are hundreds of opinions about how to best have a baby. I reassure a mom that her path is her own. The goal is the same, the baby comes out, but the way that happens is all her own. Labor can be fast. Labor can be slow. There is no wrong way.
I used to drive tour buses. Cruise ship passengers would load on to my motorcoach while in port at Juneau, and I would have them from 3-7 hours. Many people have similar questions about what we were seeing and the history of one of the most beautiful places on earth, but every tour was different. Every tour was unique. It was the same landscape, the same destinations, but in three summers of driving bus I never had the same tour.
I got to help thousands of people fall in love with Juneau, and now I’m a tour guide of a different sort – where the destination is motherhood and love, and the ride can be bumpy or smooth. But as a doula I will be there regardless. I will read the road signs of your labor and direct you, help you see where you can go, and help you avoid the obstacles.
I don’t have a 53-foot motor coach and a microphone, but I have reassuring hands and have brought the road maps. So yes, I provide emotional, physical, and education support, but like a driver is really only pushing pedals and moving a wheel, there is so much more to being the guide on this adventure with you.
Authored by A Swift Doula
I was with a woman this week that was 41 weeks 1 day. She was induced. Her sister had a c-section, her mom had a c-section, and at 20 years old, she was scared out of her brain.
She rocked her birth. She kept saying, "It hurts! I can't do this anymore!" But then she did it, again, and again, contraction after contraction, and she had her baby, OUT OF HER VAGINA, and she never believed it would happen.
Until it did.
She awesomed all over herself.