New Beginnings Doula Training

New Beginnings Doula Training
Courses for doulas and online childbirth education

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Walking the bridge alone-birth from an African perspective

"Being pregnant and giving birth are like crossing a narrow bridge. People can accompany you to the bridge. They can greet you on the other side. But you walk that bridge alone.” African Proverb

Thinking about this quote made me think about the different elements of my own labors. I had people who came with me to the bridge, and those who helped me once I crossed, but it's true, we have to walk that bridge alone. Part of me wants to push that thought away and another part wants to completely embrace it.

There is something lonely, thinking about walking a narrow bridge alone. I think there are different elements to this, though. We walk it alone in the sense that no one can truly prepare you for what it is like, no matter how many books you read, or people you talk to. You are your own individual, who responds to labor and birth in your own unique way. You are walking a path that you have never walked before and which is uniquely yours.

On the other hand, there are numerous people to help support you in that journey. Friends, family, doula's, husbands. I believe that there are women with you that have already passed through this life. In that sense you aren't alone. While you must walk your own unique journey, there are those who are there to cheer you on and walk by you. Their thoughts and love create a rope that tethers you as you walk the narrow bridge alone. They are the ones that create the steps and the twine. I would even say, that perhaps they are intertwined in the very elements that make up that bridge. You may have to cross alone, but you are crossing on the shoulders and arms of those who have made their way across also.

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Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.