“ When you give birth to a baby, you give birth to a mother as well. ”

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Excessive Support

Selected Writings

Paulina Perez:
Dependency on the labor assistant is part of the professional relationship. However, it is important that the labor assistant be a facilitator and not a person of power. She should be aware of the “If you’re there, everything will be OK” syndrome. The labor assistant must help the mother to develop personal power within herself, to meet the unknown in herself. It is important for the mother to understand that although the doula will be there to help, only she can give birth. In many ways, no matter who is there assisting, birth is a solitary affair.

Pam England:
Once a woman believes she needs to be “coached,” she is alienated from her instinctive core, where the strength and confidence necessary for birthing wait to be tapped...this kind of passivity is contrary to the hard work required in labor....Ironically, excessive support and encouragement can increase a mother’s performance anxiety and lead to feelings of dependency, inadequacy or failure on her part.

One doula’s account:
“When I arrive at a laboring couple’s home and find candles burning, soft music playing and the mother wearing a flowing, white lace nightgown, I know we’re in trouble. I think to myself, ‘Uh-oh, this is going to take a long time.’ I know I can either get out my knitting and settle in, or snuff the candles, turn off the music, and throw her an old T-shirt. In other words, tell her to get down and work.”

Gayle Petersen:
Too often childbirth classes lead women to believe that they should be pampered throughout labor. This sabotages a woman’s source of strength. A woman within the mind-space of a baby herself finds it very difficult to birth her baby. Emotional support in the context of the reality of the experience better prepares a woman to give birth, have pain, and accept support for such hard work. A woman treated with respect for her strength will believe in herself.

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