I know that the terminology 'protecting the space' has been thrown around quite a bit. But I wonder, how many know how to apply it?The traditional midwife believes that birth proceeds in a spiral fashion: labor starts, stops and starts, while the baby goes down, up and down, and the cervix opens, closes and opens. Nature has no design for failure; she holds her own meaning for success.
~ Sher Willis
There are so many levels to protect a mama in:
Early in labor, she is aware of everything in the room, far out, at the edges of her spiral, with her at the nucleus. Everyone who comes into the room can affect the nucleus by frivolous or unthoughtful words or actions. As labor progresses, a woman pulls that spiral tighter, so that the peripheral of her attention is closer and closer to her body. Toward the end, she is only aware of those things closest to her, unless they demand attention.
A protector of the space would be able to prep family, friends, nurses, doctors, midwives, doulas, children, etc... of the need to be thoughtful, quiet, unobtrusive, and gentle; not cracking jokes, talking loudly, or otherwise 'breaking the mood'. If mama is playful, you are cautiously playful. If mama is serious, you match her mood. If it is quiet and peaceful, dark and soft, you are too.
And, as the mother spirals her attention toward herself, you do the same, moving cautiously forward into that space. And, at first, it demands the whole room be aware of that space.. but the further into that spiral she pulls herself and her awareness, the more it is those closest to her.
Likewise, support people need to understand that, the tighter into that spiral a mom moves, the more she needs your physical presence to be closer to her to be able to benefit from it. Earlier in labor, you might have been able to talk to her from near the sink while she was near the window. But now, while she is deep inside that space, she needs you no more than 5 feet away. And later, as she moves toward birthing, she will need you within arms grasp to benefit from your physical and emotional presence.
Other times, I watch all support people become very attentive to moms space spiraling inward, moving to a cumulative point of energy flawlessly; and mom is allowed to move through that space effortlessly. These experiences are much more seamless for mom and for labor - and that is our goal as support teams: protecting the space.
Now, to draw this post to a close, watch this slide show of Maya's Birth, and the accompanying story.