Lost in the Woods With a Doula : All Things Pregnancy, Birth, and Family!

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Lost in the Woods With a Doula

by The Birth Mentor on 11/09/17

I just got back from a hike in the woods near my home.  Hiking is one of my absolute favorite forms of exercise!  During the summer, I try to make it to this park several times a week to wander the trails.  Unfortunately, the busyness of life has gotten in the way lately, and I realized today that this is the first time I’ve hiked this fall.  The very familiar trails were completely obscured by a carpet of gold and red and brown.  I thought of a friend who I've wanted to share these trails with, and immediately I could hear her questioning voice in my mind…”I can’t even see the trail!  How can you tell where we’re going?”

It would be a legitimate concern to someone unfamiliar with the territory.  To an untrained eye, I was just walking in the middle of overgrown woods.  But I’ve become so familiar with these trails over the years that I knew my feet never left the path.  I knew that just a few yards ahead, it would veer to the right then begin to gently slope downhill before making a sharp turn and coming to a Y.  Turn to the left and I’d have a level walk by the river; turn to the right and I’d start a challenging uphill climb. 

Later, I knew I would come to another fork in the path.  This time both options would look straight and easy.  Because I’ve traveled both routes many times, I knew that regardless of which path I chose, I’d come to more trails and more choices.  All the trails are interconnected, and all ultimately lead to the final destination (the parking lot!) but there are an infinite number of ways to get there depending on which turns I make along the way.  Some routes are short and easy, while some are short and difficult.  Some can be long and challenging, while still others are long, meandering, but relatively easy.  All offer beautiful, but different, views of the woods and all require different levels of stamina.  If my friend comes with me next time, she need not fear--she'll be in good hands! 

These were the thoughts going through my mind as I hiked today, and I couldn’t help but see the connection to my work as a doula.  As a birth doula, I accompany my clients through their pregnancy and eventually, their birth.  I’m their personal pregnancy guide, answering the many questions that come up while growing a new human. Questions like...

“Is this normal?  Does this warrant a call to my doctor?” 

I’m also their personal trail guide as they embark on the journey of labor.  No two labors are alike, and even when the trail at first seems clear, it can eventually become obscured.  It can be very reassuring to have someone by your side who is familiar with all the ins and outs of labor, the hills and valleys, the zigs and zags!  Someone you and your partner already know and trust, who will be with you for the duration.  When the route takes an unexpected turn, it can be invaluable to have a trusted resource at your side to help you navigate this new path, someone to explain what you can expect around the next bend so you're prepared to make the choices that feel right to you.   

When it feels like the trail has disappeared and you’re “lost in the woods” of labor, your doula can be a calm presence reminding you that you're on track--that up ahead, just out of sight, is your final destination: your baby in your arms!  

When it feels like the trail has disappeared and you’re “lost in the woods” of labor, your doula can be a calm presence helping you to stay on track and reminding you that up ahead, just out of sight, is your final destination—your baby in your arms! 

As I finished my hike today, I took a turn that led to a steep hill.  Just as I neared what I thought was the top, it curved and continued on an even steeper incline.  Even though I’d taken this trail many times, I’d forgotten about that last push to the top! As I huffed and puffed, I thought how much easier it would be if I had someone to lean on right then.  I didn’t “need” someone, but it sure would’ve made it easier.  In the same way, a birth doula may not be a necessity, but we can definitely make for an easier and more enjoyable pregnancy journey! 

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