I have just supported another long birth, one that didn’t end up the way the parents were hoping for.

I always find myself raw and open after supporting such a birth.

As a doula I become so emotionally invested in supporting the parents, when thing don’t go the way they had hoped for, I feel sad and powerless.

So usually I sit with that feeling, and I leave my heart cracked open for a few days.

Because I need to sit with it, to honour it to absorb it to process it.


This poem from Michael Leunig sums up exactly how I feel:

“When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring
Let it go.
Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.”

It’s taken me several years to understand this process. At first when I experienced this feeling I felt bereft and I tried to “fix” it.  I discussed it with friends who suggested various self-care tools. And yes, whilst self care is an important part of the process, so is sitting with the pain and the discomfort. I have learnt to make peace with it, welcome it even.


I have the skills to heal myself, and yet every time this happens, I choose not to for a few days, because I feel I have to sit with the raw feeling for a while so I can process it and learn from it.

Sitting with the feeling helps me I am going to reflect on what I was meant to learn from the experience.

I have an appointment booked to see a bodyworker friend who knows how to reset my nervous system after a birth. I often sob on the massage couch and I also often get the most amazing insight as I do so.

So I guess my message is, look after yourself (I have written about self-care before here ,  and also about how I use Reiki to manage my energy and those of others in the birth room-you can read about this here), but do not necessarily rush to do so, because you may miss out on insight if you do.

If you feel drawn to sit with the pain for a while then there is probably a reason why you’re meant to do so.


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