I was on my way to see a client the other day and as I was driving down the wet (and slippery!) highway, I was thinking about the quote from Pam England. You know the one:

I love this quote because it’s so true (aside from it being pretty one-dimensional and heteronormative). Doulas really are like the sherpas that guide you through the mountains- sure, you can get through it just fine without one, but when it comes to giving birth, having continuous support makes a huge difference.

My mind started wandering to all the other analogies I’ve used over the years when describing what I do. In case mountain climbing (with or without a sherpa) isn’t your jam, here’s what I came up with.

Doulas are like flight attendants. Your doctor or midwife is like the pilot, making sure you get where you’re going safely and without losing anything along the way. Your nurse is like the co-pilot, helping out the pilot and keeping things running smoothly. Your doula is like the flight attendant, keeping you updated and informed, reassuring you if things stray from your plan, bringing you pillows and refreshments, and is the face you look to for comfort and connection (okay, maybe that last part isn’t exactly what flight attendants do, but go with it).

Doulas are also like tour guides. But we are the really cool tour guides, the ones that know where to get the best local coffee, the ones that have the information for the best off-the-record sight seeing, and the ones that can get you into the locals-only bars and clubs. We know all the pregnancy tips and secrets, we are BFFs with your midwives, and we know how to help you get in to see the best massage therapists in town.

Along the same vein, doulas are like language interpreters in a foreign city. When you visit Germany, you could probably figure out how to order your lunch via wild gestures and pointing, a few mispronounced words, and maybe with the help of Google translate. However, wouldn’t it be so much easier if you had an interpreter with you the whole time? Your doula knows what jargon your care provider is throwing around, and can translate it into layperson speak right away for you. We’re also great at helping you find the right questions to ask your provider, so you can be sure you have a complete picture of what’s going on for you and your baby.

Doulas are like wedding planners. If you’ve done the whole “I do” thing, you probably remember having a lot to organize, plan, and coordinate leading up to your big day. When you hire a wedding planner, all of a sudden you have someone that will manage all the details, from coordinating schedules with the florist to chasing down Auntie Susan for her RSVP. When you hire a doula, you’ve got someone on your team who knows what to plan, when to plan it, and how to get it done. When it’s go time, you’ll have that same person there to field your questions, dry your tears, and reassure you that YOU CAN DO THIS!

Okay, so some of these may be a stretch (hey, at least I didn’t compare doulas to dog trainers). The take-home message: your doula does a whole lot of behind-the-scenes stuff to make sure your big day goes smoothly and to help you achieve your goals!