3 Ways Birth Is Like Moving

Moving is like birth

Photograph by Jo Bourne

I joked several weeks ago that I was considering rebranding my doula and prenatal class business, Birth Takes a Village, to Moving Takes a Village.  This was because over the last few months I have helped move three separate friends into three separate apartments. This month, I’ve been moving myself. This is getting ridiculous!

I wish there was such thing as a moving-doula. Although Laura and her girls from Urban Home and Lifestyles did play part of that role in my own move – thank God / Buddha / Ryan Smyth, or whichever god you personally pray to. So did a few of my good friends and, credit-where-it’s-due, my ex-boyfriend with whom my break-up with is what led to the move in the first place…  or was it vice-versa? It’s difficult to keep track of these things!

At any rate, all this moving got me thinking. Moving is alot like birth! 

Here are three ways moving is akin to birth:

1. It’s unpredictable and impossible to really plan

I always tell people to avoid getting too carried away with making a birth plan. A general vision for what you want is important, but birth has its own agenda and setting a rigid plan is pretty pointless! (Although I do maintain that women should insist upon their rights and preferences, being rigid about how you think you will cope, how long you expect things to take, how you expect it to feel, etc, are things you can’t plan for).

Same with moving. In my experience, moves rarely go exactly the way you think they will. The sunny forecast will turn to a rainy day, your mattress will get soaked in transit and you’ll have to make an unexpected stop at a recycling depot (cough, speaking from direct experience!), and the details of the place you end up moving to might be different than you expected.

You might hope to get the whole thing done in a few hours on a Friday, but 3 days later you could still find yourself packing up some final things from the storage locker (including piles of your friend’s belongings and her bicycle. This is a side note, and has nothing to do with birth. You know who you are, friend – COME GET YOUR BIKE!). But, just like birth, things sometimes take longer than you anticipate, and that’s okay.

In any case,  you’ll at some point get your things where you need to and end up with a comfortable spot to sleep, or in the  case of birth, a newborn baby in the end. It’s just that the course you take to get there might not be the exact one you imagined.

Note: If you want a template for a basic birth vision that will help you identify what is really important to you during birth, sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you the one I use with my doula clients.

2. You will need to try a lot of positions during the process

One of the best things for labour is moving around and trying different positions to help encourage baby to move down as easily as possible. This might have been the first thing that reminded me of what it’s like to give birth.

Envision trying to get your friend’s gigantic couch out her apartment door. You KNOW it must fit through the door because that’s the way it came in – the apartment wouldn’t have furniture in it that was too big to get out! Just like your body wouldn’t make a baby too big to push.

However, you will probably try 300 different positions in an attempt to GET said couch out that door. Just when things seem to be moving forward nicely, the armrest will be an inch short of making it around the corner and you’ll have to take a small break and try another angle.

Eventually, though, with a bit of perseverance, you will get the seemingly impossible feat accomplished and joyfully greet the couch on the other side of the door. Admittedly, every now and then in a baffling turn of events it will ACTUALLY seem like there is no way on earth the couch is fitting out the door and you may have to consider shoving it out through the patio door and over the balcony (again, speaking from recent experience), but just like cesarean births, this is generally unnecessary.

3. A good support team is invaluable

There are bound to be moments when you want to give up and exclaim, “I don’t want to do this anymore!”. You may burst right into tears in a moment of overwhelm during the intense and sometimes long journey, or because of the challenging physical part of the work and the emotions that come with big change. Although some moves (and births) proceed without a hitch, others have their moments of frustration and fatigue.

Having one or more emotionally stable, encouraging, and confident support people with you is the key to making the whole experience a bit easier.  They will offer ideas and suggestions of different techniques to try while attempting to maneuver the couch out the door (or baby out your vagina, whichever the case may be), pause to  give you a shoulder rub when it looks like you need it, and remind you everything you are experiencing is normal and that you WILL get through it.

If you want a doula for your birth, give me a call at 604-700-4115, or visit my doula services page for more info. If you’re looking for help moving, I was kidding about “Moving Takes a Village”; please call someone else!

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  5 comments for “3 Ways Birth Is Like Moving

  1. Jen
    March 12, 2012 at 1:07 am

    LOVE this Jess!! You are a great writer, and have managed to tie these 2 life events in together very well!

  2. Myfriendthemidwife
    February 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    This is very funny and true!! We recently on our blog just posted an article about birth mapping instead of planning. A lot of similarities between your philosophy and ours. Great site will check for updates. 

    • February 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Glad to connect with you! Will check out the birth mapping article!

  3. February 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Ha ha. Very funny. It’s amazing how many things in life we plan for and then they turn out so different than we expected. In my experience, the key is to plan for what you want and then be open to the unexpected.

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