What Does Holding Space Mean?

As a doula, I often hear the phrase ‘holding space’. I wasn’t quite sure what everyone meant when they said they were holding space. I asked a few facebook groups full of doulas. Over 9,000 people full. I didn’t really get any responses, so I decided to find the answer from within.


I think, as a doula, holding space means being ready to occupy the energy being requested. It means seeing what the parents need from you, and giving them that. Maybe they need someone to be strong, you can hold the space of a rock. Become a pillar they can lean against when their baby’s birth makes turns they didn’t expect.

It might mean being soft and tender so they can seek your warmth. Maybe this couple wants to cry, and they need you to hold them gently as they do. They want to feel not just your warm hands, but your warm heart. Maybe they need you to gently remind them of their path.

Holding space means being ready to become a mirror. A special mirror. The kind of mirror that doesn’t show your wrinkles and muffin top. It’s a mirror that only shows what you need in that moment. Showing you your eyes, full of passion and wisdom. It shows your smile, beaming with confidence. It shows your heart, full of love and compassion. It shows your strength, ready for anything life hands to you. This mirror doesn’t always show what you are all at once, but it shows the piece that you need in that moment.

Beyond becoming that mirror, holding space is about giving you the room that you need. We can’t always hold the same emotion, so I need to know when that space is yours and yours alone. In those moments I can step into a different zone, and support you from there. Holding space means allowing you to be who you need to be in the moment. 

As a doula, I love being able to hold space. I enjoy helping women realize their strength, it was there all along, they might have just needed a reminder for it to appear. I love showing dads how tender they can truly be. It’s ok to be tender, and I’m sad that some dads may think it’s not.


Holding space is so important to me.  To me it means subtly seeing how you need to be supported, and stepping into that role without disrupting your rhythm. I occupy the space that you need, not the space that you’re using.

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