When Edmond Hillary wanted to summit Mount Everest, he wanted Tenzing Norgay (also known as Sherpa Tenzing) as his climbing partner. Hilary trusted Norgay, and was very impressed with his skills and attitude. Many will tell you that a sherpa is to climbing Everest, as a doula is to navigating the maternity system and preparing for birth.
Just as Sherpas are a specific group of experienced (and acclimatised) people, so are birth doulas.
Not all sherpas are the same, you need to find your ‘best fit’. So it is with doulas.
And just as seeking to summit Mount Everest means you are the expedition leader, so it is with birth.
You are the Leader
You make your decisions and the doula is working with you, providing information, emotional support and (if needed) physical birth support. You do not need to ‘leave your dignity at the door’, or ‘go with the flow’ because ‘birth is unpredictable’. Unpredictable does not mean ‘unpreparable’: it simply means you need to cover your bases.
As with any Journey, an understanding of the landscape and climate, the people you may meet and cultural differences, and the possible hurdles you may encounter, will make for a more positive experience.
When you hire a birth doula you are not buying a guaranteed birth. You are hiring a guide, who knows the landscape and culture you are entering. In the lead up to the birth your doula guides your preparations, giving you information so you can make informed decisions and supports the decisions you make. As the birth unfolds, the doula can keep you focused and feeling safe. Your support team will find the reassurance of a doula invaluable.
Just as Sherpas can make a climb better, birth doulas have been shown to improve birth outcomes.
It is also very good to have a Map with you, when travelling into new territory
When we take on the full responsibility of our birth, we can step into our power. All to often, we hand over the responsibility to our care provider, thinking that they are best placed for this. However, in all aspects of pregnancy, labour and birth, the legal requirement of consent means that whether we like it or not – it is our responsibility. When we see consent as a Decision Point rather than an expectation to say yes, it becomes critical to understand our options beyond the decision point. When we can follow each possible pathway, we can make more confident decisions for what feels best for us. There is No One Way, having a Birth Map helps you determine Your Way.
To help you take this responsibility and confidently navigate your birth, I created FREE Member Access, where you can flip through a digital copy of my book, The Birth Map: Boldly going where no birth plan has gone before and play a ‘choose your own adventure’ version of The Game of Birth. You will also find information and resources to prepare for your journey. These resources will help you to communicate with your care providers and your support team.