One of the most common concerns when a couple is talking about inviting a doula to their birth, is what about dad? Doesn’t he feel displaced? What if he wants to be part of the birth, helping mama through the experience?
Rest assured, having a doula present does not mean that the mother’s other support person, be it her partner or another loved one, is replaced. On the contrary, having a doula can help support the partner so they can better support the birthing mama.
With my first pregnancy, I know my husband was hesitant to invite someone else into our birthing room. By just a few hours into labor though, he already expressing how thankful he was that we’d chosen to have a doula. While my husband remained by and large my primary support, my doula was able to snap photos to give us amazing memories, and also to lend a hand when one or both of us were needing a physical or emotional boost. She grabbed water and snacks, she supported me while my husband made phone calls, she had suggestions for positions to try when I felt like my labor wasn’t going anywhere. And even if she had done nothing but sit- her presence alone meant the world to us in feeling like we had somebody with us that day that was completely on our side and focused on it.
I want to share this great article put out by Dona regarding dads (or other partner) and doulas. I think it sums up a lot of the common fears and concerns a couple faces.
Dads and Doulas
Key Players on Mother’s Labor Support Team
There was a time when expectant fathers were portrayed as anxious, floor-pacing, cigar-smoking men who were tolerated in hospital corridors until the long-awaited moment when a nurse or doctor would announce they were the proud father of a daughter or a son. Today’s expectant fathers are different.
When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting, today’s father wants to share everything with his partner. He wants to be actively involved, ease his partner’s labor pain, welcome his baby at the moment of birth, and help care for his newborn at home. A labor doula can help a father experience this special time with confidence.
The word “doula”, which comes from ancient Greek, today refers to a woman trained and experienced in childbirth. A doula provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the expectant motherand her partner during labor, delivery, and in the immediate postpartum period. The wisdom and emotional support of experienced women at birth is an ancient tradition.
Studies show that when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies. Recent evidence also suggests that when a doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience, and the mother-infant interaction is enhanced for as long as two months after the birth. Also, with doula support, fathers tend to stay more involved with their partners, and not pull away in times of stress.
Today, a father’s participation in birth preparation classes and his presence at prenatal visits and in the delivery suite are familiar occurrence. Yet, we sometimes forget that the expectations of his role as a “labor coach” may be difficult to fulfill. Sometimes it is also culturally inappropriate for an expectant father to be so intimately involved in the process of labor and birth.
The father-to-be is expected, among other things, to become familiar with the process and language of birth, to understand medical procedures and hospital protocols, and advocate for his partner in an environment and culture he is usually unfamiliar with. A doula can provide the information to help parents make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication among the laboring woman, her partner, and medical care providers.
At times a father may not understand a woman’s instinctive behavior during childbirth and may react anxiously to what a doula knows to be the normal process of birth. He may witness his partner in pain and understandably become distressed. The doula can be a reassuring presence. The father-to-be may need to accompany his partner during surgery, should a cesarean become necessary. Not all fathers can realistically be expected to “coach” at this intense level.
Many fathers are eager to be involved during labor and birth. Others, no less loving or committed to their partner’s well-being, find it difficult to navigate in uncharted waters. With a doula, a father can share in the birth at a level he feels most comfortable. The doula’s skills and knowledge can help him feel more relaxed. If the father wants to provide such comforts as back massage and helping his partner stay focused during contractions, the doula can guide and make suggestions for what may work best.
Physicians, midwives, and nurses are responsible for monitoring labor, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby, and treating complications when they arise. But childbirth is also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman’s personal well-being. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience throughout their lives. By “mothering the mother” during childbirth, the doula supports the parents in having a positive birth experience.
The father’s presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child; and his need to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at her birth, a mother can have the best of both worlds: her partner’s loving care and attention and the doula’s expertise and guidance in childbirth.