Warning: Emotional Baggage
Don't worry, you won't need tissues, but we are going to get a little emotional...emotionally supportive, that is.
Emotional support is one of the key pieces to doula work, and yet, like the emotions we support, many people struggle to wrap their minds around this aspect of our duties.
However, I would argue that this is one of the most important and valuable things that we do as professionals, and it is the main reason why when someone asks, "Well can't my *insert affectionate term for friend or relative here* be my doula?," many doulas say, "uh, no."
You see, I'm sure your friend, your sister, your nana are all lovely, caring, supportive individuals in your life. Why else would you want them at your child's birth? But they are also people who all have their own feelings about you and about the child you're bringing into the world, and it would be really hard for them to not bring those feelings into your space.
I would even go so far to say that part of the reason you've invited them to attend your birth is because you want their feelings in your space, it's part of what makes sharing this moment with them so special and important to you.
But doulas are professionals trained to do this work. They have knowledge of the birth process and the typical (and even some of the not-so-typical) emotional shifts that occur both leading up to and throughout labor, and they are skilled at setting aside judgments and biases and their own feelings so that they may be fully present with you and attune to your needs.
Doulas leave their bags at the door so that they can help you carry yours.
And pregnancy, birth, postpartum—these are all parts of a time in your life that come with a lot of bags of the emotional variety. Having someone with specific knowledge and skills—and free hands!—can make a big difference in the way you feel about your experience, both in the moment and in review.
So, let your family and friends fully share in this experience with you, riding the waves of emotion it will bring them. Soak up all of the love(oxytocin is your friend!) they can bring to the space. Experience their excitement!
And then rest assured that there is someone there just for you, to support you and your emotions, emotions that may not mirror those of others in the room.
Interested in learning more about how a doula can support you on your journey to and through parenthood? Drop us a line! We would love to connect with you.