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  • Writer's pictureKirstie Broughton

Holding Space – What does this mean?

When I first became a doula I didn’t know what was meant by ‘holding space’.

I now know it means a variety of things but I still find it hard to define, so here are a few of the ways I’ve held space for doula clients I’ve worked with…

It could mean sitting quietly whilst a birthing person and their partner discuss a decision that needs to be made. Just being their, allowing them time to talk and offering words of support only when needed. Sometimes holding off other people who may want to speed up this decision or have their say. 

It might be during the later stages of labour when a birthing person turns to their primitive brain and needs silence, dark, solitude, to feel confident and able to moan and moo and to follow their bodies lead. I hold space and allow this to happen undisturbed by well meaning ‘helpers’.

It could mean being a safe person to be with, sometimes without words, when just being there is more than enough. Sometimes being a safe person to sit with and listening, actively listening without judgement. 

It means for a doula to support the birthing person in any way they need. Not airing their personal views, but supporting the birthing person in anything they require. Only providing evidence based information and not opinions. 

It doesn’t mean trying to fix an unfixable situations, but to support the acceptance of what’s happening. 

It means to provide an emotionally, physically and spiritually safe space, where the birthing person and her chosen partner can feel comfortable enough to be themselves, to feel all the feelings that come their way and to process the experience in the way they need to. 

I create a physical environment that’s calm and inviting, I can dim the lights, add fairy lights, ensure the blinds are closed, use aromatherapy to make the room smell amazing and provide sustenance for energy. I consider all senses…taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing, along with spirituality. This allows the birthing person the space to deal with birth, rather than arranging their surroundings. 

Time in the birthing space will stand still, as a doula I make this the most important space in the world…the only space! The birthing people can forget everything else except this precious moment. 

After birth it’s ensuring that the golden hour is honoured. Making sure physical space is given from any well wishers, medical staff and any other people who are around. This is such a special bonding time, a time that should be kept private and the memories savoured forever. 

I hope that helps you to understand how I can support you in holding space. I’ve focused on birth here but I do the same for postnatal doula clients too. There’s lots more that I do within my doula roles but holding space is one of the more important elements. 

If you’d like to find out more about my birth doula services please see

I’m also happy to explain how I can hold space within a postnatal doula setting and you can view details about my postnatal service here

I’m happy to talk through all options and to answer any questions you have, I’d love to hear from you any time. My email address is and my mobile number is 07920212669 

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