Being in Support of Vs. Supporting through Childbirth; What’s the Difference?

During this long-lasting period of social distancing, I find myself struggling when I can’t physically support my birth clients. I began searching for new meaning or a pathway to the concept of providing continuous labor support’ and was reminded of two very different states that I already explored while becoming a transformational life coach: Being and Doing. I am so used to thinking about providing continuous support as an action-oriented practice, filled with hands-on engagement. But the need to practice social distancing doesn’t allow this type of support. There may be many birth support figures who feel the same, and I hope that this blog post will serve all those who serve.

We do have two figures of speech in English: ‘Being in support of’ and ‘Supporting’

I see myself and other doulas as nurturers; companions and servers. The word ‘Doula’ is the Greek word for a woman who serves. Of all these archetypes, the server is the one strongly tied to ‘doing’ things for others, but the others don’t fall far behind in terms of ‘doing’. My struggle brought me to think about the differences between Being in service of others’ and serving others when the word ‘service’ has often interchanged with ‘support’.
We do have these two figures of speech in our language: ‘Being in support of’ and ‘Supporting’, so they must represent different states, even if slightly so, right?

The state of ‘Supporting’ involves actions

Being is associated with Accepting and Allowing; perfect mindsets for the time of the pandemic

The first difference I found relates to the assumption that ‘supporting’, rather than ‘being in support of’, involves doing. The assumption that the state of supporting others must be manifested in the world in a series of actions. Covid-19 definitely has challenged this assumption: right now we are all staying home and are minimally engaging in “doing” as a means of serving and protecting those who are more vulnerable to the virus. As a birth support figure, I am being in support of my current and potential clients, and of all expectant individuals, anywhere on the globe, when I continue to have faith in nature, in the process, and I  trust the human body and spirit. The presence is serving by being present, not by doing. I am present. 

Being in Support can’t be quantified

Another difference that derives from the first one, is not being able to quantify ‘being in support of’ in terms of hours. Being in support is a state or mindset that I strive to maintain all the time. When I lose it, which may happen due to personal or professional challenges, I must work hard to recover and heal or I can’t go back to L&D and provide continuous support to my clients. 

Being in Support leads to a shift in thoughts or feelings while Supporting leads a change of course

Doing is goal-oriented and seeks to reach a standard. Being is associating with accepting and allowing

As I continue researching and comparing the two states- ‘being in support of’ vs ‘supporting’, It became clear to me that when we engage in doing we usually try to change things or fix them. Doing is goal-oriented and hence action-oriented. However, the state of being is not goal-oriented but instead is associated with accepting and allowing. “Allowing arises naturally when there is no goal or standard to be reached, and no need to evaluate the experience in order to reduce discrepancies between actual and desired states.” Therefore, being in support of leads to a shift in thoughts or feelings. I can’t tell you how happy I was to come across this difference: It perfectly matches the approach to birth support that I’ve been developing through the Birth Coach Method in recent years. Birth Support Coaches facilitate the clients’ desired experience with no attachment to any ideal birth experience. We accept and allow clarity about our clients’ beliefs, values, visions, and desires for their birth. We don’t try to change their pathway per some standards. 

Accepting and Allowing are perfect mindsets for the time of the pandemic

Birth Support Coaches accept and allow clarity about our clients’ beliefs, values, visions, and desires. We don’t change their pathway per some standards. 

Accepting and allowing seem like the perfect mindsets for the time of this pandemic – as general mindsets to adopt for the sake of our mental and physical health, and while being in support of birth givers. Our world is in the midst of ‘becoming’, a concept strongly tied to birthing and is well-understood by us – birth workers. So maybe during the pandemic, we can embrace the lesson of holding space for the birthing process, just as we demand that the medical system will allow it to unfold at its own pace and route. We may find a way to accept and allow all desired birth experience with no attachment to the standards of any particular type of birth experience, such as natural birth, as an ideal one. 


Neri Life-Choma

COVID-19, labor support tools

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