We honor the transformative process of birth and parenthood
Having a baby and becoming a family is one of the biggest rites of passage a person can go through. Its an on going process. As soon as a woman gets pregnant, it begins. Everyone starts to take shape into the person they are going to become. Life as you know it shifts into something else.
Robbie Davis-Floyd eloquently explains what a rite of passage is in her paper called The Rituals of American Hospital Birth. She writes "A rite of passage is a series of rituals that move individuals from one social state or status to another as, for example, from girlhood to womanhood, boyhood to manhood, or from the womb to the world of culture. Rites of passage transform both society’s perception of individuals and individuals’s perceptions of themselves"
It starts while a woman is pregnant. She watches her body grow and mold into literally a new person. She sets up her life for whats to come, taking each step at a time. Together, her and her partner begin to nurture and love their child. Parenthood has already begun.
And then there is labor and birth. Often you hear women say, "there is nothing like birth", "I had to surrender to the process and give myself up" or "I literally thought I was dying". Birth is certainly a heavy, long and life changing journey. Women enter labor one person and exit another. The first moment they hold their baby, they know they have become some one else. When a baby is born a mother is born.
There is a space between one and the other where a transformation takes place and that is where doulas are most present. That is where we must hold that space and support while the transformation take place. As a doula that is part of our job, to hold someone while they become someone new. Normalize the experience, let them know that what they are feeling is normal and is part of the journey. Let them grieve their old self, relish in their new life, fear the unknown. Let them cry, laugh, and curse. Be there to assist them. Be there to honor their transformation.