Knowing your Seas
Our Understanding of true international multi-cultural diversity
[the following article was published in the DONA International eDoula electronic magazine in October 2012]
I have spent 42 summers by the sea. From 40 days young, when my mother first immersed me in the sea water, I have considered myself a competent and confident sea-person. I am used to swimming in summer and winter. Being a big fish in a small pond, I naively believed that I knew all I needed to know about the sea, until I traveled to the north seas. For the first time in my life, at age 22, I felt in my bones the deathly chill of the north sea, the terrifying undercurrents, the dark waters, nothing like my familiar tame clear blue Mediterranean waters…
This summer, meeting the Mexican sea, I was once again in awe in front of what I thought I knew. I could not help but making the comparison with labor and birth. Water seems to be the closest metaphor to birthing sensations – unpredictable, calming, mesmerizing, fierce, still, playful, cool, cold, hot, rhythmical, bringing, nourishing, taking life…
I also could not help but thinking about our presumptions in our experience with our local communities. Most of the DONA International Conference participants were experienced professionals in their own communities. We consider ourselves knowledgeable of how birth is, of what women need, of what to expect. Again, like big fish in small ponds, we may often may think we know our seas very well – only until we go to another place and face a totally different sea.
What the different seas experience has taught me is that probably the most important element for a doula in caring for a birthing woman is to lean towards her, listen to her, and thus truly meet her.
Thank you for sharing the experience with me!