Why continuous doula support is so helpful for making labors easier and more enjoyable has been studied quite closely. I have a theory of my own. I think it has to do with the Starfish Principle. You can find the starfish story in our book: Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way. The basic idea is that a young girl finds a beach covered with starfish far from the water. She sees they will die unless they get back into the sea. She starts to throw the starfish back, one at a time. Her mother tells her not to bother, she can’t possibly save them all. But the daughter is determined, she can save some, one starfish at a time.
As doulas we only have one client at a time. Therefore, how that one labor goes really makes a difference — to us! There is something special about having a small sample size. You can make a big difference to one woman. It is harder to make such a big difference to many women.
Because she is our one birth, this month, this week, this day, we work as hard as possible to make a difference for her. As we make a big difference for her, we enjoy that big win, too. Just as we are one for her, she is one for us. Her joy in meeting her baby is our joy. Her success in breastfeeding is our joy as well.
I learned early on that I can’t be at all the births all the time, even just the Pittsburgh births. There are way too many! But I can be at one special birth to one special mom and dad. And I can make a difference!