Tips For Traveling Through Birth


Traveling recently with my 3.5 year old daughter (through Denver…twice!) led me to make some interesting connections between my work as a doula, and my role as parent and child wrangler. Inevitably, the excitement of traveling had worn off and she just wanted to be DONE.  My continued assurance that we really would be home SOON fell on deaf ears.  And sometimes being prepared and planning for the worst-case scenario just can’t make up for the fact that, for a little person, traveling can suck.

She doesn’t understand why we need to change planes.  She doesn’t know why a small light overrules our ability to stand up. And time is still an abstract idea – so you can bet the fact that we needed to literally run to make our connection was met with less than complete cooperation.

All this and the world is not designed for a little person.

#1 Game plan – Birth Plan

All long term goals can benefit from a plan.  The plan may go awry, but starting somewhere is better than going in blindly.

Just like in birth, thinking about all the decisions you may be faced with can ease stress, reduce anxiety, and gives you time to process the information.

Instead of discussing skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, or the benefits/risks of using pain medication, my daughter and I walked through:

Where are we going

What we’ll see. When we’ll eat. Who will be there to give us big hugs at the end. Just like in birth, the plan may change, but it’s a place to start.

#2 Make the most of your time at home. 

It is said over and over – if you are planning for a vaginal delivery, stay home as long as possible.

Birth is unpredictable, but if you are able to stay home in early labor, then do that!  Have your doula come to you to help.  Have the comfort of your own space, your smells, your food, and your loved ones to support you in early labor.

For my daughter, before we left she got to eat some good food.  She got to run around the house, jump on the couch, pretend she was on stage and sing songs from Frozen at the top of her lungs in the back yard.  It was just what was needed before 8 hours of being in close space with limited movement.

#3 Small Space = Big Imagination

When in labor, I encourage women to imagine locations that are comforting.   We do guided meditation to help them release stress and anxiety.  Music, dancing, and rituals can help transform a hospital room into your ideal birthing space.  Low lights, quiet voices, and following intuition can mean “going deep”, which can lead to more effective labor patterns.

With my daughter on the plane, we make the most of our small space: We play a mean game of eye spy, we tell jokes, we push all the buttons and, when needed, we take a walk to the bathroom.

And, we watch movies.  Escaping the small space with the help of an imaginative animated world (thank you Frozen) was just what is needed sometimes.

#4 When It’s Just Hard!

I hope women are surrounded by people who are encouraging and supportive when they are in labor.  People that let a laboring woman feel her emotions so they can do the work they are there to do.

Bottled up fears can have an adverse effect on labor progress, so women need to get them out!  Your labor doula can help you voice those concerns by giving you complete acceptance and non-judgmental support.  Let it out, and let it go.

Sometimes I can’t be the super mom – sometimes the situation means we don’t get to play trolley tag (normal tag with the addition of a ding ding!  when touched. )

With my toddler, sometimes she really does NEED to thrash around on the airport floor.  Her frustration needs to get OUT!

So when that happens, I sit with her, tell her I’m there when she is ready, and at the end, she crawls into my arms and I give her a big hug.  And that is it.  I don’t shame her.  I don’t tell her to behave.  I don’t threaten her into submission.  (I’ve tried that - only makes it worse.)  So she gets it out, and lets it go.

So lovely readers in Denver,

Moving through your airport in Denver with its incredibly useful moving walk ways (that toddlers love) inspires me to share all this to say – you are lucky to have local help when you are in labor.

Birth plans can be written, you can make the most of your time at home, you can make the most of your space with the help of your support doula and family, and you can have an incredible journey through birth, into motherhood.

A much desired guest post authored by A Swift Doula, Ariel Swift.

Ariel has found great joy in exploring life again through the eyes of a toddler, and can be found exploring new parts of Chicago, finding great coffee shops, visiting local book stores, and enjoying the vast water front.   Growing up in rural Eastern Washington State has given her an appreciation for how many great people and places are available in Chicago.  

Before entering into her role as a professional birth and postpartum doula, Ariel has had the benefits of a wide range of talents and opportunities.  Some past experiences include competing in the United States Barista Competition, driving tour buses in Juneau, Alaska, and serving as a Community Relations Manager for Barnes and Noble.