Since Fathers Day is this month, I thought I would talk about how dads and doulas work together. Often I have women tell me that their husband/partner will be attending the birth and therefore they don't need a doula.
Let's examine this thought a little bit:
The presence of fathers in the birthing room is a relatively new concept of the last 50-60 years. Previous emotional and physical support has been traditionally provided by women with childbearing knowledge and experience. Society expects men to participate but does not support men in learning about the needs of women in childbirth. At best, what they do learn in childbirth class is limited and may go flying out the window due to stress the moment they set foot in the labor room.
While it is a welcome change for fathers to be involved with pregnancy and childbirth, it is often a cause of great stress and anxiety for the expectant father. Even the most committed and nurturing partners often have a sense of anxiety as they witness the unfamiliar and distressing changes happening to their beloved.
A doula has knowledge and experience about the normal processes of childbirth and can offer reassurance to both the laboring woman and her partner that all is well in spite of what it may appear. As well, extra support will be beneficial if complications do arise.
Labor as it suggests is hard work for both the woman and her partner. Labor can be long, spanning several hours at the minimum and stretching out over a day or two. The doula can provide rest breaks and reassuring encouragement for the support person as needed to maximize their involvement in the birth.
Dads have emotional needs as well. They are welcoming a new child into their family. While our society tends not to focus on the emotions of men, it is high time that we acknowledge them. He should be entitled to experience those moments of joy and wonder with his beloved instead of having to worry about every detail of labor support he learned in childbirth class.
The role of the doula is never to replace that of the birth partner. Doulas are there to enhance and support the spouse in providing optimal care for the laboring woman. Dads know their partner best and doulas know birth best. Together they can make a great team.
So give your dad-to-be a wonderful father's day gift and hire a doula for your upcoming birth.