One of the most common questions I hear from an expectant woman is, “how will you and my partner work together?” Many dads themselves also seem hesitant to hire a doula, before understanding how we can be there to support him almost as much as his wife!
For many couples today, it is sort of an unspoken that the partner attend prenatal appointments and childbirth classes, read books (or at least listen to the mother’s recap of the books), and know what the mother wants during labor and delivery. That is a LOT of pressure for someone who is also completely emotionally invested in the birth experience. I don’t know about you, but when someone I love is in pain or discomfort, or is nervous/fearful, all logic completely shuts down and I just want to make it better. Birth, especially first births, can often be a very challenging experience emotionally for partners. They see the woman they love in a relatively unknown situation, experiencing discomfort, and yet they are supposed to remain composed and remind the woman of different things to try, do, eat, drink, etc etc etc.
This is where doulas step in. Doulas allow the partner to be completely immersed in the birthing experience with the mother. Need water? The doula is on it. Hungery or need to go to the bathroom? Go ahead and take a break, the doula won’t leave the mother’s side while you’re gone. Question about what happens next? Doulas answer. Not sure how to help the mother? Doulas can offer suggestions to the partners on how to help. Wondering where the cafeteria is, or how to call the nurse? Doulas know the hospital you’re in, and can help guide you. Doulas can coach dads/partners just as much or more so than the birthing mother herself! We help take some weight off of the shoulders of the birthing woman’s partner. We give them the space to be unsure, to have questions themselves, and to get emotional about the experience of bringing a child into the world. While we do emotionally invest with our clients, we can never be as emotionally invested as the co-parent of the child who is about to be born. We are able to step back, and view the labor and delivery through a different lens. Doulas and partners work better together, to make a completely supportive and knowledgeable team for the birthing woman.
Doulas do NOT take over for a partner who wants to be involved and invested in the mother’s experience. When a mother and her partner are working together beautifully, we have no problem stepping back and sitting quietly in the corner, waiting to be needed. We observe, note when an additional hand or suggestion is needed, and otherwise let the laboring couple “do their thing.”
On the other hand, when the partner is squeamish about birth, or for whatever reason cannot or chooses not to be very involved in the experience, doulas are able to step up and care for the birthing woman without their partner there. While we will never be able to completely fill the shoes of the woman’s partner on an emotional level, we can provide the physical support and as much emotional support as possible to help the woman through her labor and delivery experience.
PB&J, Movies & Popcorn, Doulas & Partners. The perfect combination.
Questions about how a doula can support YOU during labor and delivery? Check out our facebook page, or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to talk to you about how we can be a great addition to your birth team!