As doulas, we often ask people what images come to mind when they think of childbirth. "Screaming," "water breaking," and "running to the hospital" are the typical answers thanks to Hollywood, as so few of us have actually witnessed birth or the postpartum period (unless we are doing it ourselves). And those who have will be the first to tell you—Hollywood mostly gets it wrong! Actually only about 30 percent of people start labor with their water breaking and the average length for first labors is 24 hours, not 24 seconds.
In our profession, we work hard to change perceptions about birth and paint a more realistic picture. But in doing so, we are acutely aware that the picture we are painting is very much related to birth practices in America and in many cases, New York City since it’s where Ash, my business partner and I, practice. It’s funny—even though the general "logistics" of it all are the same, the unique ways different cultures approach it may surprise you! Here are some of our favorites we've learned about during our studies and experience as doulas.