I’m a runner. Anyone who is also a runner or is close to a runner knows how much our shoes mean to us. When the whole sport pretty much comes down to how your feet hit the ground, the shoes in the middle are pretty important. We research them, test them in the store, and often wear them for a few practice runs before ultimately deciding that a pair will work. Once a runner has found a line of shoes that feels right and doesn’t aggravate any particular body part, he or she will do everything possible to keep buying the same ones.
The shoe industry is like any other and always tries to make their products “better.” Sometimes that means that a shoe that once was the perfect fit, suddenly becomes a disastrous choice. Or, in my case, a runner becomes pregnant and her feet change size, causing the shoes that had worked for 10 years to become uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, sometimes a runner has to try out new shoes and that can be a terrifying venture.
I decided to try a few different lines of shoe to determine what worked best for me. This could have been a very expensive proposition as your average running shoe costs over $100. Since you can’t really tell if a shoe is “right” until you run in it for a bit, you need to have a retailer kind enough to allow returns even after shoes have been worn. I am really lucky to be a VIP member of an online running store that allows just that – you can wear a pair of shoes for up to 90 days and exchange them for only the cost of the shipping. I could try a new pair of shoes and have the freedom to change my mind.
Knowing that you can try something and not be stuck with it in the long run gives us the freedom to try things that are hard or expensive. While having to pay for a pair of shoes that don’t work may be annoying, feeling stuck in a particular birth scenario that doesn’t end up working out can be really scary. Women deserve to have access to whatever type of birth they want; they also deserve to be able to change their minds if it doesn’t feel right or something else seems like the better choice in the moment.
As a doula, I help women find ways to feel comfortable during labor. Sometimes this means applying cold washcloths to her forehead or a heating pad to her lower back, sometimes it involves counter pressure techniques and words of encouragement, and often it means reminding a woman of her options during labor. Knowing that we have options and can change our minds gives us power.The more power a woman has or feels she has during labor, the more smoothly everything will go.
I’m really happy that I can mail back these shoes that make my feet feel like blocks of cement during a run, but I’m even happier that women can feel empowered to make the decisions that work for them during labor – regardless of what their initial plans had been.
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