The problem with birth + Instagram
Since I started out on my doula journey, Instagram has always felt important to me. I knew, as a small business owner, I needed to have a presence and as I started working with clients and gaining more practical experience, felt desperate to share it with the world. But lately, I've been finding it really hard to
post. And it’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s that I’m just not sure Instagram is the place to say it. I’m not sure I have the language to communicate what I’m about, what birth is about, what any of it is about, in a way that feels satisfying and complete on such a limited platform.
What I’m learning endlessly, about birth and parenting and being a doula, is that the truth, the meaning, the reality of it all lies in the unsaid: In the watching, the feeling, the waiting. The deep, unspoken intuition.
After a birth (sometimes during), clients say
to me: you just seemed to know what I needed exactly when I needed it, it was like you were reading my mind. I promise you, I’m not a mind reader, but these days, 40+ births in, I have stopped trying to figure it all out in my head and begun to rely heavily on what the birth environment, guided (often unconsciously) by the birthing person, is telling me to do. If nothing comes, then I do.... nothing. Not exactly Instagram material is it 😂
But, also, it’s not as simple as that. Because most women, understandably, choose to birth within the system, which doesn’t lend itself to the core of what birth is - an organic process, or what it needs - space, time, trust. I have worked with some incredible NHS midwives over the last few years, but they are bound to guidelines designed to keep everyone (including and perhaps especially the system) safe - even if they’re not right for the individual giving birth.
It’s easy for me in antenatal sessions, or on the grid, to provide that context, lay out some black and white choices, encourage my client (or Instagram audience) to take full responsibility for their births. But that feels unfair and like a big ask to me.
Birth is powerful, overwhelming and requires the ultimate surrender of self - almost like a death, which renders practical & rational decision making borderline impossible. It's not that the plan goes out the window, but the birthing woman herself becomes someone new, right before our eyes. It’s often scary for her
and anything that has gone before this wordless transformation suddenly loses its meaning.
As my wise doula partner @charliegoodbirth says, the moment you birth your baby you are the pinnacle of evolution. Can we take a moment to digest the enormity of that please.
The pinnacle of evolution.
It’s true and it's huge. An enormous reality to shoulder. And it cannot be down the one person. It’s up to everyone in the birth room, the system as a whole, society at large to embrace it. And for that to work at a meaningful level requires a total cultural shift.
So, that's why posting on Instagram feels hard to me right now. Birth cannot be reduced to a square on a grid, anymore than it can be squeezed into a graph on a pad full of clinical notes.