When I tell the average person what I do for a living, their face lights up. I hear their birth story, we gush about how strong women are, and how amazing the tops of newborn baby heads smell. Many people envision this job as overflowing with miracles. And I admit, I encourage that.
If the person is pregnant, we have a very different conversation.
Because birth support isn’t really about unicorns and oxytocin. People often hire a labor doula because of their anxiety about giving birth.
On the first phone call with a new client, I usually ask something like “What’s your hope, when you hire a doula?”
And no matter what they say, the answer is almost always about managing a fear of the unknown.
For some, this looks like knowing what to expect.
So we talk about sharing birth plans with providers, childbirth education, and me narrating the experience so that they stay informed.
For others, it’s about managing labor.
They want to know how much pain is normal during birth, and what they can do about it. So we talk about how there are many tools to cope with contractions, and what they have access to, from showers to pain medication.
If this is not their first child, it may be a fear of giving birth again. They don’t want to go through what they did previously, and I talk to them about how every birth is different, and they have choices- whether it’s a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC), or getting the epidural this time.
Some are even burdened with the fear of dying in childbirth. Maybe they’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition, they’ve been reading about maternal death, or they just can’t imagine how they can survive their baby getting out.
Talking about birth with someone who is anticipating it is heavy.
I’m okay with however my client’s fear is showing up. I don’t dismiss it, or minimize it. I just tell them, that the only way out, is through.
The way most of us end up overcoming a fear of childbirth is by experiencing it. So, and my job is to guide clients away from their fear from becoming trauma, and their pain becoming suffering.
So, dear reader, I want you to know something if you’re pregnant, and afraid about how on earth you’re going to get this baby out of your body.
Your fear about labor is normal. You’re not overreacting. You are about to embark on an intense journey, and we cannot predict exactly how it will go.
I also want you to know that you can be afraid, scared shitless even, and still do this thing.
You can have a birth that leaves you feeling like you made choices that were right for your body, and your baby. A birth where you feel powerful, safe and heard, no matter what happens.
You are absolutely capable, even if you feel overwhelmed right now.
So take a deep breath, and let’s face your fear. You don’t have to do this alone.