DOULAS AND PARTNERS, A WINNING COMBINATION
During my initial consultations with pregnant women, I always ask how their partner is feeling about the idea of including a doula on their birth team. Sometimes, partners are more than happy to welcome the support a doula can provide. But more often than not, I get a “welllll… they’re a little nervous about it…” or some form of “they just want to know how to help me, but seem worried about being replaced…”
Listen, guys. I get it. You might be feeling a little hurt if your wife or partner wants to hire a doula for your baby’s birth. What can a doula offer her that you can’t? Will she take your place or get in the way? What exactly does a doula do, anyway?
Let me reassure you that doulas can greatly benefit not only the woman you love, but YOU, as well.
A Doula is a person who is trained to assist a woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born. Doulas support laboring women and their partners emotionally, physically, and with any information they might need to make informed decisions as labor progresses. Doulas do not provide medical care. A Doula is generally independently contracted by and works directly for the laboring person and her partner, with the role and goal of supporting, encouraging, and remaining with the laboring person throughout her birth.
1. Doulas understand the jargon and speak the language of birth. Dilation? Effacement? Station? Hep lock? Anterior, posterior, cervical lip? Um… What? Your doula knows, and she’s like a medical interpreter, clarifying the terminology from your providers and sharing it with you in a way that is easy to make sense of. She will make sure you understand what is happening, every step of the way. You don’t have to remember all those details from childbirth class, your doula will refresh your memory and clarify anything confusing.
2. She will spot you so that you can take a break. Labor can take time. Nurses and doctors come and go. Doulas don’t leave. She will be there so that you can go to the bathroom, take a short nap, have a real meal. She’ll be sure to send you for breaks so that you’ll be energetic and focused when your partner needs you most.
3. Doulas know the right questions to ask. They will remind you about your plan and encourage you to take time to consider your options. Your doula will provide information to help you make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication between your partner, her medical care providers, and you. She will reassure you to remember your voice. Doulas are skilled at offering different alternatives for any given situation. Labor is unpredictable, but she will always be ready with suggestions to try, pros and cons of any proposed change in plan, etc. Since doulas work for you, they are an unbiased source of knowledge and resource whose only goal is the well-being and healthy outcome of the birth. They are your advocate, friend, and a steady stream of emotional and informational support.
4. Doulas know how to comfort laboring women, and a doula will make you look GOOD. During her labor, you will likely see your partner in a way you’ve never seen her before. Doulas excel at giving dads the tools and tips they need to help comfort and soothe their partners. Your doula will model the calm, quiet, peaceful demeanor your laboring partner needs to see. When she forgets the breathing exercises you learned in childbirth class, your doula will remind you how to breathe with her. When her back or hips ache, your doula knows how to guide your hands to give her relief. When she says she can’t do it any more, your doula will be right there with you, reassuring you both and encouraging her that she IS doing it. Your tender touch and reassuring words will be the ones your partner always remembers. Your doula will be an ever-present encourager, supplying you both with suggestions and support.
“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 as long as two months after the birth. With doula support, fathers tend to stay more involved with their partner rather than pull away in times of stress. The father’s presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child, his needs to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at 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.” –www.dona.org
Partners are often able to participate in labor and birth more fully with a doula present. Much of the fear and worry about the safety of his or her unborn child and partner are removed when a doula is present because she can provide informational support about the labor as it progresses, and her calming influence allows the partner to give the love and support needed, in a way that is most effective and comforting. The presence of a doula complements a partner’s role and strengthens it, allowing him or her to more fully experience the joy and wonder of welcoming their baby into the world.
Doulas and partners are a winning combination. Supported birthing person, empowered partner. Birth. Do it with a doula.