Labor Language

- written by Jordan


I don’t typically write about my clients’ births. I believe that the stories, timelines, emotions, ALL OF IT are theirs to tell. Not mine.

Over the years one of the most vital lessons I’ve learned as a doula is that the person physically and emotionally going through a birth may have a completely different viewpoint and story than an outsider looking in. I never want to tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel about your birth. Those feelings are sacred and only yours. If you ask me specific questions I will answer them honestly, but I will always tread lightly.

I want to tell you a little about a birth I recently attended. The story I want to tell is not how labor went or how she had her baby— again, those things are special to her. What I want to talk to you about is how the parents spoke to each other in another language and what that meant to me as their doula.

When I go to a birth I want to blend into the background. Not stand out. Surprising, right? Well, it’s true!

There are so many people wandering in and out of your labor room all day and night. Sometimes the idea of adding another person to mix is reason alone a family chooses not to hire a doula. But I am here to tell you- I am not there to be the highlight of the show. I am there to be your grounding presence, your “I can” when you feel like you ‘can’t’, your informational guru, and most likely a firm, strong pressure on your back to counteract the labor sensations that feel never-ending. That’s right, I typically spend a good portion of your labor behind you while you hold your partner's hand and gather strength from their eye contact.

Anyway, the point of all of this, I wish ALL of my clients spoke in another language! What a beautiful way to have a portion of your labor just to yourself and your significant other. I vividly remember the moment when they started speaking in their first language to one another. They briefly paused, and the husband apologized for speaking in their native tongue. “Please do!” I responded. They then told me that it was a great tool when they bought a house or went to make a big purchase. They could say what they really needed to say without feeling pressured by the person helping them.

As their labor went on, they continued to speak to each other in ‘their language’ when it felt right. I couldn’t understand the words her husband said to her, but my heart understood clearly that what he said in those moments gave her the encouragement and strength to keep pushing through. Especially, when things got hard.

Eventually, the sweetest baby was born. And when this brand new mom instinctively spoke to her son in her mother language, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.

I want you to know though, regardless of your language, say all the things. Labor is a time when words can mean the most. My job as your doula is not to listen in on your intimate conversations. I am focusing on the big picture- you focus on whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the person you love most. And if I have the opportunity to be your doula, I will work to create space for these sweet moments to happen for you too. Even if that means having everyone clear the room for a few minutes of alone time before your sweet new babe makes their grand arrival.