Here’s the question: What does having a baby mean to you?
I was just speaking with a doula who said that she felt relieved to go ahead and ask questions of expectant parents in order to uncover some of the meaning of their birth. She had been hesitant to involve herself with a couple’s personal and relationship details because she didn’t want to offend them or make things worse, but it was apparent with one couple that they were dealing with some heavy issues. How does a doula make sense of the situation and appropriately provide the kind of relief that a couple needs?
Birth can be, no doubt, a time of shifting relational dynamics for a couple, especially for first time parents. Allow me to suggest an idea: if you as a doula are going to be in a place where you could see a human come out a woman’s vagina, then you would probably consider yourself to be in close physical contact with her. Therefore, does it make sense, also, that you would be close to her emotionally? I believe it is appropriate and even essential to inquire deeply into the dynamics of your clients, and further, that they want your emotional support.
When we ask what something means, we are exploring a variety of influences. Meaning is a factor influenced by culture, and legendary psychologist, Carl Jung, suggested that a culture shares a database of meaning, which he called the collective unconscious. What this means for parents is that there are general (collective) meanings attached to becoming a parent in a certain culture, such as it means you’ll have more responsibilities. Then there are individual (specific) meanings that are formed out of personal experiences, such as it means you’ll get your father to pay for a new wing on the house. When you are able to connect with an expectant parent on the meanings you have in common and know more about their personal meaning, then you have done something remarkable ~ you have truly met another person and can now do more fully what you are here to do: CARE.
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What did you find was specific to you about the birth of your children? Did your father contribute to a new wing on the house? Did your family fire guns into the night air when a baby boy was born? Did you quit your job and start a new career? What did having a child mean to you?