So I was in the shower this morning doing some thinking about the labor basics class I'm teaching this evening (I do all my best thinking in the shower, probably because that's the only place I'm ever alone since I'm a stay at home mom). While in there, I thought up this analogy to help explain labor and birth for a first time mom. So here it goes:
Childbirth is like your New Years fitness resolution. You decide it's time to join a gym and get in shape. You have never really followed a fitness plan before so you join a gym with an educated and experienced personal trainer. At your first training session, your personal trainer puts you on a treadmill and turns it on. They don't tell you how long your training session is going to be, just that the treadmill will gradually increase in intensity and that you can't quit and get off the treadmill until it stops. You've started off at a nice leisurely stroll so you think to yourself, "OK, I can do this, no big deal.". After a couple of hours, you start to think, "Wow, this is getting kind of hard. I'm really getting tired. How much longer do I have to do this?". After a few more hours you are thinking, "This is starting to really hurt. I don't want to do this anymore. Just make it stop! Somebody HELP ME!". After about 8 to 36-ish hours, when you are cursing your partner for even hinting at making a fitness New Years resolution and you think your legs are going to fall off, you're going to collapse from exhaustion, or die from a heart attack, your trainer comes back. They abruptly stop the treadmill, slap a gold star sticker on your chest that says "I DID IT!" and shove a houseplant in your arms. They tell you "CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT! Now go rest on that cot in the corner for a bit then take this houseplant home and keep it alive for the next 18 years. GOOD LUCK!" Now wouldn't that have been a lot easier (and a whole lot less scarey) if you had a friend who has "been there and done that" by your side the whole time? Someone to run on the treadmill beside yours and explain each increase in intensity, cheer you on, encourage you, tell you "You can do it! You are doing amazing! Focus on how strong your body is. Relax your shoulders. Let your body do it's work. You are going to achieve your goal. You will be so proud of yourself when you are done.". Wouldn't it be great to have someone to acknowledge your weak and trembling body once the treadmill has stopped? Wouldn't it be helpful to have someone who will hold your hand, explain what you are feeling, care for you and nourish you as you rest and regain your strength, teach you how to feed and care for your new houseplant?
Ok, the analogy stops here. This is what it is like to give birth as a first time mom. This is why you deserve to have a doula. Because you don't have to go through this experience alone. A doula is someone who has felt a calling to "be your best friend on the treadmill next to yours", to guide you through this often scarey but amazing experience in your life, and help you realize that you can achieve your childbirth goals.