A large part of what I do as a postpartum doula is simply hold space for new parents. What does this mean though?
Holding space in essence is providing support. It is walking alongside new parents at the start of their journey, without judgement, without trying to fix them or control them.
Midwife and childbirth educator Pam England talks about a fellow midwife who spent a good part of her time at a birth sitting in the corner and knitting. Rather than being irritated by this busy work, the women took great comfort in her calm, unhurried presence. She didn’t talk too much, she didn’t check in too much. She was simply there, trusting the labouring woman’s ability to birth her child, giving her the gift of patience, holding the space.
What am I doing when holding space for you?
- Giving you permission to trust your own intuition and wisdom. You know more than you give yourself credit for.
- Giving you only as much information as you can handle. Too much information at once can sometimes leave us feeling incompetent. I try to avoid overwhelming you by not giving you more new information than you can process.
- Not taking your power away. I want you to feel empowered to make your own decisions. I will offer support while still allowing you to have your own autonomy.
- Keeping my own ego out of it. It’s about you, not me.
- Making you feel safe enough to fail. Making mistakes is how you learn. If you feel safe and supported, you will have the courage to keep growing.
- Giving you guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness.
- Creating a container for complex emotions. Birth can bring up a surprisingly complicated jumble of emotions. I work at building trust so that you feel safe to hold space for yourself.
- Allowing you to make different decisions and to have different experiences than I would. This is your journey.
I am indebted to the wise Heather Plett for her beautiful writing on this topic. You can read her original post here.