I recently participated in the 2019 Virtual Doula Conference hosted by We Birth, I presented on a topic very close to my heart - A Doula’s Role In Supporting Professional Women. This Conference is the final part of a professional mentorship that I’ve been participating in - just as I support and coach my clients I have also been supported in this way for the past year!
While I was working on this final assessment (the conference presentation) I was struck that there were many parallels with preparing for birth, and that is what I’ll explore in this blog.
It Was Harder Than I thought It Would Be
Just as women instinctively and naturally know how to give birth, I can very naturally talk about doula support and pregnancy without any problem at all. BUT, just as birth can be disrupted by moving to hospital and being cared for by unfamiliar staff, there were aspects of my talk that were unfamiliar to me. My presentation required research and evidence to support it which made the whole thing more structured and harder work than it otherwise could have been.
I Thought I Knew What I Was Doing
I know my subject pretty well - I was a ‘professional woman’ (accountant) when I left full time work to have my first child, and have supported many of these personality types as a doula. Once we were given the assignment I quickly wrote the outline for the talk and then left it for months because is my head, it was pretty much done - I just had to flesh out the structure I’d set down. Needless to say that I had MASSIVELY underestimated the amount of work involved in putting together a 20 minute presentation (together with supporting evidence) and I found myself stressed and a little overwhelmed.
I know many women who attend childbirth education classes when pregnant and walk away from those classes feeling like they know what to expect and are confident in their upcoming birth. But they don’t look or even think about the course content before their baby comes and suddenly find themselves unprepared as their birth approaches.
The Deadline Won’t Move!
The Conference was to be aired during World Doula Week, which is March 22-18 each year. I had to submit my video presentation a week in advance to allow everyone time to set things up. So I had a hard deadline and no matter how overwhelmed I was it wouldn’t shift.
Your baby’s arrival day is also a hard deadline ;) You may not know which exact day your baby will arrive but one thing is for sure - he/she will not wait!
Learning New Skills
I had never put together a video presentation before. I made a Powerpoint presentation and finally had my speech and evidence assembled but how was I going to present, record and submit the file? I had to research different video and file transfer options, learn how to use them and then successfully implement my new skills. I do love learning so this was actually fun for me ;)
Pregnancy and Birth is a natural process but we don’t live very ‘natural’ lives these days - our communities and families are often far away and we live a life of ease and convenience compared to our ancestors. So we may need to learn and practice skills to best support ourselves in our birth.
Practice and Visualise
I think I finally submitted the 45th take of my video! I had to practice, practice and practice some more before I had a version that I was remotely happy with. Working out the kinks in technology and my delivery required a fair amount of practice.
Of course you don’t have the luxury of redoing your birth. But practicing and visualising your birth will pay massive dividends on the day. The more you practice, the easier it is to access the information, techniques and connections that will support you.
Know Who Your Support Team Is
While refining my presentation I sent it off to a lot of other people for feedback - my husband, my children, other doulas and my We Birth Mentor. I’m lucky to be well supported in a lot of my professional endeavours, both at home and within my community and their support, encouragement and suggestions were invaluable.
Having a great support team during pregnancy, birth and postnatally is crucial to improving your experience and outcomes. This support can come from a variety of areas in your life - your partner, your extended family, your doula, friends, colleagues, medical care providers and other professionals (chiropractors, acupuncturists, educators etc). Know who is part of your team and how to access their support and care.
Birth sometimes feels like a big project and I certainly saw parallels while preparing for this Conference! But it’s a project that keeps going and once your baby is here you’ll be learning new things every day - embrace it!
We Birth is a training organisation for doulas - find out more about them HERE