The art of knowing when to do nothing

“Our hands are skilled in the art of touching, of catching, of wiping the brow, but they should also be skilled in the art of knowing when to do nothing. Much too frequently eager birth attendants or doulas cannot just be and hold space – they want to orchestrate, lead and intervene in the journey. This impulse is usually founded in goodness, such as offering words of encouragement, or offering position changes. Many women will want these simple tasks from their midwives, but they should be in response to the mother’s will, desire or need. Frequently, hands are found doing work, mouths are offering words and energies are manipulating space, when all that is needed is a holding of space while the laboring mother does her journey – a journey that is centred for her and deeply important for her birth and growth as a mother. She needs to bond not only with her new baby, but to bond with herself. Let the laboring woman journey. Let her find herself.”

– Erica Andrews


Andrews E (2017). Holding Space. With Women in the labyrinth. Midwifery Today 121: 9-11.

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