I believe that every woman is entitled to give birth in the way that is most fulfilling for her and in accordance with her individual beliefs on birth. I respect the uniqueness of every birth and do not subscribe to the thought that birth should be 'normalized' to fit some standard. I would be honoured to act as your labour assistant whether you chose to birth at home, in a hospital, or in a birthing centre.
"Holding Space" perfectly describes my guiding philosophy as a doula. To 'hold space' for someone is to give them your complete presence and energy, and to open yourself up to humbly witness the fullness of their experience. I view this opportunity as a privilege and a gift. I invite you to read below a delightful article about this concept: Holding the Space: A Doula's Best Gift, by Pam England, CNM, MA, author of Birthing From Within. (And, if it's cowgirl boots and chocolate cake you desire, look no further!)
Holding the Space: A Doula's Best Gift
by Pam England, CNM, MA
Once, there was a hospital midwife in Albuquerque who earned a favorable reputation among parents for her unusual form of labour support: she sat in the corner of the room and knitted. Initially I anticipated mothers would feel the knitting-midwife was not really present to them, but in fact, every mother I spoke with said she was comforted by the midwife knitting. One mother recalled her experience:
"I would finish a contraction, open my eyes and look to see her knitting in the corner. That let me know everything was fine, I was fine, and I could do it. In fact, it was when she got up to do medical checks, I began to wonder a little bit if something could be wrong—so long as she was knitting, I knew nature and I were still on course."
This kind of presence in labour non-verbally communicates a felt-message of trust in the mother and the process; so knitting is one way of "holding the space."
Something stirs in me when I see old, Native American women sit motionless against their adobe dwellings, gazing into the boundless desert out of dark eyes set in faces wrinkled by a million creases. I sometimes feel, in their stillness, they are "holding sacred space" for all of us.
So, when I was pregnant the second time, what I wanted most from my doula was her unhurried presence. I asked Janie, my doula, to do three things:
• To wear boots to "kick ass" on my behalf, if that was what was needed;
• To make a chocolate birthday cake from scratch; and
• To “hold the Feminine and trusting space” like the enduring Native women
In labour, Janie arrived wearing her cowgirl boots. She made the chocolate cake from scratch. She "held the space" for me to do whatever I needed to do. She didn't do or say that much. I was contained by her calm presence and unconditional love for me.
From Janie I learned the power of a doula's presence. And her gift to me is the gift I try to give other labouring mothers – and the mindset I want to pass on to new doulas.
As a doula you are privileged to witness and feel the unspeakable power of birth. You are in a position to see the most intimate expressions of the inner-Child (the parents', birth attendants' and your own). When adult masks and strategies fall away in the midst of losing control, not-knowing what to do, and so wanting to get it right, we behold the Divine inner-Child. To see in this way grows a tender Heart.
When a doula is prideful or too busy in labour, she may forfeit being touched by the great Mystery of birth. And, if she or no one in the labour room is in touch with that great Mystery, then who is "holding the space" for the Mother who is between two worlds while she births the Child? Even though a mother gives birth to the child safely, what is her feeling of being immersed in the work and wildness of labour without truly being seen, held and contained? (Some of us know.)