5 Ways that Doulas Help Partners
There is a common misconception about doulas – that they replace the dad/partner during labor. This can be off-putting to a couple that wants to have an intimate birth experience. But a doula doesn't replace anyone. She is another member of the birth team. There are many ways that a doula helps the partner before, during and after the birth.
So, dad, here are five ways a doula can help you.
1. Help plan your role.
For a first-time dad/partner, the thought of childbirth can be exciting. But it can also spark feelings of fear and anxiety. Most of these feelings stem from the unknown.
What does birth look like?
How will my partner tolerate pain?
How can I help her cope with labor?
Having a doula means that you can participate in the birth at your own comfort level. Not everyone is comfortable with the "messy" aspects of birth, but that doesn't mean you don’t want to play an active role. During the pregnancy, a doula will work with you to plan your role for the birth. She will remind you that there is no wrong way to participate, but that having the conversation earlier rather than later will allow you to find a plan that works for both of you.
2. Be a sounding board. Regardless of the amount of research and planning you do in advance, birth is unpredictable. And sometimes it can spark feelings of uncertainty or fear. A doula can be a sounding board when you have questions or concerns.
Is this normal?
What’s happening now?
It's much easier to ask these questions to your doula than a doctor or nurse, who typically tend to multiple patients at the same time.
A doula is there for you. Hired by you. She does not work for your medical provider. She does not report to the hospital staff. She is there to provide you and the birthing person emotional and informational support.
3. Provide an outside perspective.
Watching someone you care about in pain can be difficult, even if you've both prepared for it. A doula can help by reminding you what mom needs in the moment. Doulas are great at reading the room, taking the emotional temperature, and acting accordingly. When emotions are high, she can help you figure out how to best support mom.
Even if that means simply letting her be.
Conversely, mom may need hands-on support, such as counter-pressure to help manage back pain. A doula can help you to correctly apply pressure so it provides the most relief possible.
Sometimes a doula's outside perspective can be the balance you need to offset your emotional investment in the situation.
4. Allow a quick break.
Research shows there are true benefits to continuous support during labor. But even the most involved partners need a break at some point – for food, rest or bathroom. You need to take care of yourself so you can best support her.
Having a doula means that even when you need to take a quick break, mom is never left on her own. Additionally, your doula can run and grab things you need, such as a coffee or water. This can be hugely beneficial, especially in the case of a long labor.
5. Checking in with you.
Pregnancy and birth are life-changing experiences for a woman. But they are life-changing for you as well. And unfortunately, the partner is often pushed to the wayside during this time.
Before, during and after the birth, a doula is there to check in with you. To see how you are handling the experience, both emotionally and physically. She is there to offer support and resources, if needed.
A doula does not replace you, but enables you to take a more active and effective role in the birth experience. She is there to help you feel more at ease and to know how to best support mom. She will encourage you and cheer you on. She will provide knowledge, insight, and reassurance.
Dads and doulas make a great team.