A fellow doula recently brought up this question in a virtual doula group we are a part of: What does it mean to you to hold space?
As doulas, that's often something we put in our job description. "I am here to hold space for you."
It sounds nice. Comforting. Sweet. But what exactly does that mean?
Like so many things in this fluid life, it is personal definition.
So when I tell someone I can hold the space for them, what does that mean for me?
From my understanding as an observer, giving birth is a raw and vulnerable process. A time of being open, in every sense of the word.
To hold space is to create and uphold a safe environment. Energetically and physically.
To listen openly and compassionately. To see another person in their struggle and not try to fix it. Or disempower them by feeling bad or sad for them. I simply acknowledge that they are struggling, and that I cannot fix it, but I care. And I am there.
When I am holding space for another person, I am saying, this is not about me. This is your truth, your story.
This is not to say I cannot help. I can touch, and I can hold, and I can smile, and I can encourage, and I can do anything else we can think of. But I cannot and should not alter or change your story.
Rather, I can be a witness. I can show up without judgment. And I can be there, fully present.
Holding space is important, it is sensitive, it is nuanced, and it is a part of the beautiful work that doulas do.