Surfing through your labour.

When I was kid,  I had open water swimming lessons.
Each summer we would spend a couple of weeks at the beach, learning to navigate the tides, currents, waves, rips, jellyfish, supersonic octopus and giant crabs (okay, so those last few weren’t officially part of the lesson, but in my head I was totally working out how to fight them off like a sea warrior ninja mermaid hero girl)
I was always busting to get straight in the water but I had to sit on the sand first and listen carefully to what the instructor was telling me. Listen and learn about how the water moves, which direction to swim and how to stay safe.  
Then, after what felt like a lifetime, when the adult had finally finished all their talking, we could go in!
It was the best! 
I LOVE the ocean.
I love its many moods. 
I love the way it always greets you with a wave (see what I did there? Dad jokes, pfft, they have nothing on me!)
The ocean, the sea, the beach; it’s always therapeutic, its never boring, its never the same, you never know what mood its going to be in and yet it follows the same process everyday.  It has predictability, it has certainty, it’s reliable. 
There will be sand.
There will be water.
There will be fresh air.
There will be a high tide.
There will be a low tide.
The water will go out. 
The water will come back in.
See, a process, a system
and its process, its system, is never wrong. 
Its perfect. 
Have I mentioned I LOVE a good system!
colour coded system,
alphabetised system,
numerical system,
made up my own just because I can system!
You know what else has a great system, a perfect process?
What else is never the same and yet wonderfully consistent?
Now for those of you who do not share my love of the ocean, you may not find this a relate-able post, but stay with me, my point at the end of it all,  is just as relevant for you. 
I’m going to set the scene, portray the picture;
Lets go…
Think about going for a surf.
You check the beach,
(non beach-surf goers, this simply means we drive/walk to the beach to assess it surfability, clearly the beach is still there, we don’t need to check that silly billy)
you watch the water for a while,
you wait for a few sets to come
you make a decision as to whether or not you will get ready and go in.
The waves are good, there is a bit of a wait between each set but when they come you think they have enough power in them to persuade you,
it is time to go in!
Now, if you didn’t have the knowledge of how the water works, how it moves and flows, builds and peaks, you would have a really hard time in the surf. You may get dumped by the waves and may even be frightened of drowning. But you know you won’t drown because you are educated about the water, the waves and your own limits in it.
You get ready,
wetsuit on,
wax the board,
leash on your leg,
you walk in the water
and your toes let you know; 
it’s cold,
it kind of takes your breath away for a second, but your wetsuit, it combats the cold as you get in deeper. 
The waves in the shallow are not enough to stop you walking through them but once you get to mid thigh you get on your board and use your arms to paddle out to wear the action is.
You can see the waves coming towards you and prepare yourself on your board to go over them, you are not quite in the right spot and you have to paddle a little harder to get over this wave in order to get out the back to wear the ride-able waves are.  You are not worried about the waves coming towards you, even though they are a little challenging to get through, because you can see where you are going. You know how to paddle your arms and manoeuvre your board to get up and over the wave or through its whitewash. 
You keep paddling until you are sitting in the sweet spot.
You know there is a set coming soon, you feel the movement in the water even though the wave is not yet formed. You turn around, face your board toward the shore and get yourself ready to start paddling,
lets go,
you paddle as the wave catches up to you and you prepare to stand and ride the wave until it has lost its power.
You do this multiple times, sometimes the wave doesn’t have the power you were expecting, sometimes you fall off your board, sometimes you are not quite in the right spot when the wave comes and you have to work harder than before to get back over it. Mostly though, it is a good ride, it takes effort and commitment but it is a good ride.
While you are in the water, the tide and weather change and the waves become more powerful, bigger, and there is less time between each set. 
You’ve almost had enough but you need to ride just one more big powerful wave. 
There is a lull, the water goes strangely still for a few moments and you prepare your body to get back out to where you need to be.
The method to catch the wave doesn’t change but you have to paddle harder to get back to the sweet spot between each wave.
Your arms are getting tired, the surf has been really good but you are ready to go in now.
You have been in the water long enough, you can predict when the next big wave is coming and when it does you are ready for it. You ride that wave all the way in, then you catch the last few ripples all the way to the shore. 
Exhausted and exhilarated and completely connected to your experience. You sit on the sand a little while and just catch your breath.
That is labour. 
 Until you ride your first wave it’s a really hard experience to truly get a grasp on. If you have been learning about the ocean and how to surf you will be excited to give it a go.  It’s not like you could have imagined, in some ways it is harder, in some ways its what you imagined but it is surprising.
You understand more being in the water than you ever could have by reading about it or even watching others doing it.  But all that time preparing to get in the water has helped, it helps you navigate the waves and helps dissolve the fear of going under.
There is a lot of waiting in the water between sets, you can go from using every muscle in your body to get through a wave to just sitting on your board peacefully waiting for the next set to come in.
All the effort that it took to get out there though,
it’s worth it.
When it comes to your labour and birth, don’t be like the tourist who ignores all the lifesaving signs, grabs a board, walks straight in to the rip and wonders why they almost drowned. 
Know how to swim!
Doula’s are like the surfing instructors.
We teach you how to listen to the water, how to navigate the waves and understand the tides. 
We teach you how to paddle and when to stand up and when you are in the water, we are too.
We swim along side you and make sure you are safe.
When you fall off, we make sure you get back on your board.
When we see that you have got the hang of it, when you are riding your fist wave, we let you go. 
You are the one that is surfing.
We wait.
We watch.
We cheer.
if you live on the Bellarine Peninsula, the Geelong Region or the Surfcoast Shire and you would like to learn how to surf through your labour, you know what to do, contact me , we got this, you got this!
Be educated, be empowered. 
Beth x

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