Although the information here will reassure any partner, this article intentionally addresses dads-to-be. All the quotes, links and videos are made by dads for dads-to-be, about their most common concerns about birth support: 1) Value; why should we pay for a doula if I’m going to be there? 2) Why do we even need a doula; what does she have that I don’t? 3) How will I be included if a doula attends?
This scenario is common… A couple, pregnant with baby #2, is in my office describing their first birth. They are intelligent people with a good relationship who did all the classes/exercises/books/videos and thought they were prepared for that first birth. They may have considered a doula but decided they’d be fine on their own. They wanted a private experience, without “inviting a stranger”. There were challenges, possibly detours, and the birth went nothing like they’d planned. “I felt so useless!” is the most common thing I hear from men during those interviews.
This time around, they’re doing things differently!
In this article, Joe describes the way having a doula at the birth affected his experience and in turn his wife’s experience, of birth. In Four Reasons Why Husbands Want Doulas (even if they don’t know it yet) Joe states:
The saying goes that the first time the wife hires the doula, but the second time the husband does.
In the video, Doulas and Dads, men talk about the birth of their child and their experiences with doulas. They share that they were hesitant or unsure at first, but then learned about the benefits and are now big advocates of birth doulas! They describe how doula support helped them personally and also their partner through pregnancy and birth. These men also shared how the doula helped them be more supportive to thier partner during the birth. (Note: 8min video but birth doulas are discussed from 0:39 to 5:55.)
If I were emperor of the world I would make doulas mandatory and quadruple their salaries.
That’s a bold statement, but heart-felt, from Ian in this collection of interviews with local (Regina, SK) dads. In this article, several men share their experience of working with a doula.
After the birth many male clients become great advocates for doulas, saying things like, “That’s some of the best money we’ve ever spent” and tell every dad-to-be, “Get a Doula!” In his humourous article addressing the value of working with a doula, “Just Hire a Damn Doula!”, Isaac Baker says:
When my pregnant wife first proposed hiring a doula, I issued my standard response when asked about paying someone to perform a service: Nope, I can do that …. on my own. Oh, how ignorant I was.
Doulas are experts in birth support. They work as team with other birth attendants, provide comfort measures and offer suggestions to keep labour moving efficiently and safely. An experienced doula is also an expert in preparing pregnant couples for their birth. No one ever wishes they’d been less prepared for a big event! Births are significantly shorter and have fewer interventions when attended by doulas. You can see those stats and learn details about birth doula services at Doula FAQs
What Does the Doula have that Dads-to-be Don’t?
The father-to-be typically has little-to-no experience with the birth process, yet is expected to act as a coach and protector. Some partners feel (accurately) that this is a huge expectation. Both parents-to-be are going through their own journey to meet their new baby and need support. It’s unrealistic to expect partners to know what all the options are, remain objective, recall everything from prenatal classes, and be the only support person.
In addition to a long list of comfort measures and extensive knowledge of birth support, doulas take care of many tasks and background details, and help facilitate communication with medical care providers.
In his article, Reasons Dads Should Demand a Doula, KH Weiss discusses the cost/benefits of working with a doula. He says:
Don’t worry. Your doula remembers everything about how to make the labor as pleasant and problem-free as possible. Your doula can make you look good.
Men being included at the birth:
A responsible doula compliments and enhances the partner’s supportive role. The presence of a doula allows the partner to provide emotional and physical support without the pressure of having to know everything.
Studies show when a doula is present, there’s significantly more eye-contact and touch between the labouring woman and her partner. Doulas honour and respect this bond. Part of good prenatal care includes learning how a couple wishes to work together through the birth, then helping the partner to be involved to the extent they feel comfortable.
While the labouring woman is a doula’s primary focus, the partner is also well supported through pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Pete French describes how a doula helped him and his wife through the birth in his short video, One dad’s experience of having a doula at the birth.
Many men who were initially worried about being left out of the birth-process and now rave about doulas share similar stories:
… just a few hours into labor though, he already expressed 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 our rock. She was there to offer tips or encouragement when I needed, and having her perspective was priceless. My husband knew me- he knew what things relaxed me and could read my facial expressions. My doula knew birth. Together they were an unbeatable team.
When a couple works well together during the birth process, an incredible bond can form or is made stronger. That can help them better handle the challenges of early parenthood.