Recently at a birth I was attending, I realized that being a doula takes being more than
a cheerleader. While cheering a mom on in her labor, jumping up and down every time she makes it through a contraction and shouting with every bit a progress she makes, is all good and needed. I realized that being a cheerleader will only take a mom so far. A laboring women is experiencing the hardest work of her life, she has decided to take on the challenge of allowing her body to be inundated with hormones in order to produce a full body experience of one downward push after another. She has done this without really knowing what exactly it will be like, but trusting in the fact that the process itself was the best way to birth this new life. She has decided that this process is best done with the assistance of a doula, trusting that when presented with feelings of doubt, exhaustion, fear, she would have someone present who could help her go the extra mile. So it dawned on me a doula is really a coach!
I know to people who have been in the birth world for quite some time this is a “no brainer”, but it became for me reality when I was presented with a particularly unexplainably long labor that had been looming for this mother; she had already had two days of contractions that kept her awake and then finally her body decided it was“time” around 11:00 p.m. meaning that she again would have a sleepless night. So they press in and began the journey, mom and dad are strong and excited things are clearly progressing. We encourage her, cheer her on, and we chat. As the night progresses she decides to go to the hospital and finish the labor there. When they are presented with the knowledge that she has made it to 4cm we are ecstatic! But, still knowing we have a lot of road left to cover, she gets back to work. Mom is pressing on still feeling strong and doing a great job, dad is right beside her, a true rock!
She is steadily making progress as the night turns into day. They are tired but encouraged that things have begun to intensify signaling that she is nearing the final stretch. We speak words of encouragement and assure her she is doing great, we use every play in our book, and still we are just shy of the win. So we collaborate we pull the team together and come up with a plan, they put the plays to work and before long they have gained ground. Knowing they are one throw away from a touch down we come together again. But this time the team is exhausted they have played the longest, toughest game of their lives and need a coach who can assure them they can still win this game! So the coach steps in and reminds the team of how far they have come, all the ground they have gained, and that they DO have what it takes to go the last mile!!! I tell them in no uncertain terms, You can do this, You got this, You have all the strength you need to reach your goal!!!
As a coach I realized then that sometimes you have to believe more in your team
than your team believes in themselves, that even when it feels the like the win is out of reach, it is best to give it your all and press in a little more, because you just might get the win!! And they did win! They achieved the beautiful intervention free birth they had planned for! They had together labored through the longest journey of their lives thus far. The end result in this case was a stronger family unit, a woman who trusted and relied
on her man more than ever, a mom who feels ready to conquer motherhood, and a new dad equipped with what it takes to lead his family through a sometimes uncertain world! I am honored to have been a part of the history of this family and to witness the strength of such a great team. Thank you, for teaching me something about myself!
Jenny is a dedicated christian wife and mother. That is now pursuing her passion for everything birth!
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