I have been prompted into deep thought today following a discussion with a doula colleague regarding the subtleties of the birthing environment. Particularly regarding communication and language.
How an opinion - well meaning - but not actual fact - which may not be hugely considered from the mothers perspective may influence and potentially undermine her delicate labouring body-mind. And how ultimately a lack of consideration for the language used or the energy it possesses could change the course of her labour. For instance a mother who feels empowered and confident about her birth could be led off course simply by being given opinion of her situation. Whether that opinion is correct or not, once given it thoroughly undermines her sense of herself, her instinct and ultimately her power.
What exists in the labour room can be a real power imbalance. When a woman is moving through labour and thus in a totally different realm she is somewhat vulnerable. Her birth partners are there to protect that vulnerability whilst she gets on with birthing her child into the world.
Equally we can consider how we might be able to use language to assist a labouring woman when things have not gone 'to plan'. Holding her space means to be carefully tuned into her needs and energy. From this place you are in a powerful position to recognise that fine line between, for instance, pain and suffering. In some cases a woman may have good reason to feel that she has something to prove and will push herself to her limits. I think most birth workers would agree that birth is not something to be conquered. It is in fact a deep surrender. Otherwise the only battle you are waging is against yourself. As a keeper of the energy surrounding birth you are in a very powerful position to hopefully recognise when she needs more support and encouragement. Also when she may need you to say that it's ok to ask for help. I've seen the sense of relief that washes over someone who has fought the good fight but is depleted. No (wo)man is an island. Preparing women to be fluid, adaptable and to take what they need when they need it is another part of this sometimes long and arduous journey.
In birth as in life we can only truly respond in the present moment. Energy is wasted and fears govern when we look too far forward or backwards. Perhaps you have come across F.E.A.R (False.Evidence.Appearing.Real). When we are dealing with the subtleties of hormones as a governing factor of birth it is so important we stay present, focussed and bring with us the energy someone needs from us to in order to best support them...but that's another chapter...
'Words are the most powerful drug known to man', Rudyard Kipling