Sometimes, parents may be apprehensive about hiring a doula because they believe that the doula will push the father to the sidelines and run the whole show. Additionally, there seems to be a misconception out there that there’s no need to hire a doula if you already have a supportive partner. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, one of my favorite aspects of being a birth doula is teaming up with the dads in order to provide the best type of support possible for mom.
In my experience I have found that dads are often eager to support their partner, but don’t know how. The reality is that the majority of dads out there haven’t spent hours upon hours reading about birth, learning pain management techniques, or supporting moms as they attempt to breastfeed their baby for the first time. These skills all fall into a doula’s wheelhouse. Having a doula present can be very beneficial to fathers because doulas can help fathers support their partners in the most efficient way- whether it be through suggesting laboring positions that require two people, teaching dad pain management techniques such as the double hip squeeze or the use of a rebozo, or educating dad about the different stages of labor or optimal fetal positioning. Doulas also offer emotional support to both mom and dad throughout the birth.
Another benefit of having a doula present at your birth is that doulas also are able to take over for dad when he needs a break. Dads can step out in order to eat lunch or make calls to the family without feeling that they are abandoning their partner. Births can be long, and when dads need to rest doulas can step in and continue to provide physical, emotional, and informational support.
The truth is that supportive dads are an amazing asset in the birthing space! Some moms are more comfortable being touched by their partner than by their doula- and that makes perfect sense! Loving touch from a partner releases the hormone oxytocin, which is needed to bring the baby into the world. Dads also know better than the doula how to communicate with their partner, where they like to be touched, and how their partners respond to pain and stress. Dads can also be the best advocates for their partners. Dads are the experts in their partners, and doulas are the experts in birth- together, dads and doulas make a dream team.
At one of my recent births, the father stepped aside with me while his wife was resting with an epidural and thanked me for coming. He told me that he had been unexpectedly overwhelmed by the experience of seeing his wife in pain, and that having me present was a huge help to him emotionally. Because I was present, he was able to step out and collect himself when needed without having to worry that he was leaving his wife alone. When the time came to support his wife through the pushing stage, he was calm, well-rested, and in much better spirits. As a doula, it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to support both parents on their baby’s birthday.