Doulas and Dads
Women with many varieties of birth plans are hiring doulas to help support them during their birth and postpartum period. This make my doula heart smile! Studies have shown that having a doula at your birth lowers your chance of having a cesarean section and women are more likely to have a positive experience with their birth.
BUT….doulas aren’t just there for the moms-to-be. Doulas play a key role in helping dads. Doulas offer dads invaluable emotional and practical support during the overwhelming experience of childbirth.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to support many dads during all kinds of births. Some dads are very hands on and love to be part of the action, while others like to be more of a quiet calm in the room. I love working with them all.
I remember my very first birth I attended as a doula. Dad was so awesome. He was the one in the partnership that read every book, watched every video, and was what I would consider very prepared for what could happen. He was very on top of making sure his beautiful wife had everything in order before labor started. I got a call from them at 4pm on Christmas night, “Kim, my labor has started!”. I asked if she knew how far apart her contractions were and I should have known dad already had an app running and was timing the contractions. It was time for me to get to their home and help support them. When I got to their home dad had mom sitting on the birth ball, moving her hips side to side and was down on the floor right by her side breathing with her. When it was time to go to the hospital I followed them there. We got back into the delivery room where mom continued to use the birth ball and dad continued to be right by her side breathing with her. I was able to support them both by giving mom back rubs, cold rags, lots of encouraging words, and other support along the way. When it came time to push dad was right up by mom’s head still breathing with her and telling her how amazing she was and how great she was doing. I was able to help support her legs while she pushed her baby out.
I tell you this story because I love how this dad was so involved. I hope looking back on their birth that they remember the amazing connection they had during this experience and how their bond grew stronger. Although I believe my role as a doula is very important, it is ultimately about the birthing couple.
It’s common for dads-to-be to worry that having a doula during delivery might push them out of the main labor support role. I want to reassure you this is NOT the case.
Here are a four important ways doulas can help make you baby’s birth a beautiful, memorable experience for you and your partner.
Doulas offer continuous labor support, starting from that exciting phone call telling them that your labor has started. Doulas stay at your side until a few hours after your baby is born. Unlike nurses, doctors, and midwives, who have shift changes, doulas will stay with you the entire time. Yes, if the labor is extreme long a back up doula may be called in to take over if needed, but most doulas don’t end up having to do this.
Knowing that you have a doula there to support you for the long haul is reassuring to both mom and dad-to-be.
Doulas Support Your Vision
Doulas are there to back you and your choices, if that means a water birth at home or a planned c-section in the hospital. Some families want their doula to be more hands-on, it is the client’s direction that determines what type of support is given. It is not about what the doula wants. As a doula, I am more focused on fostering the connection between the mom and dad. Your doula will talk with you during your prenatal visit to get an idea of what kind of role you and your partner would like her to play.
An Extra Set of Hands
There are a lot of benefits to having a doula with you through the entire delivery experience. All-day care means your partner can rest, relax, or take a break if needed. A doula can step in when it come to necessities like getting water or a meal, taking photos, and even updating friends and family. This frees up your partner so he can fully concentrate on supporting you.
Bringing Wisdom and Experience
Most of the time dads are experiencing birth for the first or second time, but doulas have attended a number of births and are a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from. Doulas can reassure a worried dad that the moaning is in fact normal, or that pushing can take a few hours for a first-time-mom. A doula will talk to you and your partner through decisions that may need to be made during labor. Doulas can offer various ways to comfort you, including changes in position, massage, and relaxation techniques. Doulas and dads work together to support the mom-the doula brings her knowledge of birth, and dad bringing his love for you as the laboring mother.
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