Part 2: Birth as transition and initiation
I have 2 answers to this question, so don’t miss the first part! The second part of my answer is a bit more complicated and also answers how I view my role as a doula.
I see pregnancy and birth as a transition, an initiation into a new stage of life: Parenthood. This in-between of life before kids and then after when you have them is a beautiful, rapidly changing time. I see myself as a kindred soul here to walk your path with you. Each person’s path is different to journey from childless to with children, and no matter what your journey looks like, having a trusted companion to answer questions, see you through the changes, and walk beside you each step as I have others on this journey is a comfort and a blessing.
This liminal place is magical, and I believe one to be honored. You’ll never have another pregnancy like this one. You’ll never walk this exact path again as each pregnancy and birth are unique. And once you reach the end of the liminal place, when you have your baby, I believe in the magic of honoring this transition. Of being witnessed, cared for, accepted into this new state of being in yourself.
In other cultures and other times, our life transitions were recognized and honored. There were traditions around the coming of age, of birthing. Now our new parents are pressured to “bounce back” to get their bodies back to the look they had before pregnancy, to be a parent and still do everything you were before: work, errands, socialize, feed your family, and the list goes on. There is no space to honor the new state of being. No time is given to reacquaint yourself with your body in this new state after bringing forth a new life. No space is held for the challenges of new parenthood: the sleepless nights, the aching bodies, the changes in the relationship with your partner and other family members. The friends that are lost, and the very real mental and emotional changes that happen in the first year after birth.
This is why I believe doulas are important, and why ceremonies can play an important role in honoring this transition. With a doula you have that support person, the person to hold space for you during all the stages of your pregnancy and birth.
Ceremonies can look different for every individual, but imagine a time of loved ones gathered to celebrate you. Perhaps there is an honoring of the body by oiling it, massage, an herbal bath, wearing special clothes, or some other celebration of your body. A symbolic release of the old self, whether an item that you’re letting go of, the burning of a paper, or the burying of your placenta. Then a sharing of food and wisdom from those who have already become parents, to welcome you to the circle of this new space. Being surrounded by those you love to celebrate the completion of this journey, nourishing foods, a celebration of baby, and this next evolution of your family. I really believe that an acknowledgment of your accomplishment by your community or loved ones plays an important part in feeling satisfied with your birth, in your mental health, and in both the health of you and your family in the future!