In fact, there has been some expectations put on the father that how he would coach this birthing woman. Indeed, fathers can be very good at cheering their partner on as she ventures into uncharted waters. Interestingly enough, most fathers have not ever experienced attending a birth before the birth of their own child. There can also be a lot of emotions that go under recognized because everyone can be so focused on the mother and the baby.
Enter the doula.
The doula has spent time with the family before the birth, getting to know their needs. The needs of EACH family member. If the partner wants to be very hands on during the birth, the doula can worry about other details: making sure the whole birth team remembers this families birth preferences. The doula takes the pressure off so that if the partner can't quite remember how to do those hip squeezes learned in their birth class a few weeks ago, the doula can offer gentle reminders. The doula can turn on the candles, get out the aromatherapy, and bring in drinks and nourishment for BOTH mother and partner, so that the partner can just hold this laboring woman when she needs him there most. The partner has expertise on how to love this woman the best in her most trying moments, and the doula is the keeper of all the birth knowledge so that the tools are there if they are needed. The doula asks the partner-- "How are you doing? Do you need sleep? Do you need a break? What can I do for YOU?" when other team members are completely focused on mother and baby. The doula ensures that the partner is getting enough rest in the birth process that he can keep going after the birth and be the one to take on some baby cares when the mother is feeling physically exhausted. The doula is the reminder to the partner that he too can trust his instincts, that he is a wonderful father and partner.
Have a partner who is feeling skeptical about having a doula at your birth? First, have him talk with other partners about their experiences of having a doula. You may be surprised how many of them feel so happy with their choice to have a doula. Then, set up a time to meet with us. We want you to know how we can gently serve you BOTH during this incredible transitional time.
This post was written by Hope Lien, a birth doula with A Woman's Design- Doula and Childbirth Services in honor of doula week. Hope is certified as a Birth and Postpartum Doula through DONA International, certified as a Lactation Counselor through Healthy Children, and certified as a Breastfeeding Without Birthing instructor.
She lives in the Minneapolis area with her husband and 15 month old daughter, who came to them through the miracle of adoption. She was able to offer her support as a doula to her daughter’s birth mother and helped catch her as she was born. She is very proud that she was able to induce lactation in order to nurse her daughter for over a year now.