The purposes of a Doula are many. A Doula can hold space for the birthing woman. She can provide support. She can help connect you with local resources. She can be a gentle guide along a path new to you but loved and familiar to her.
But what about the partner? Many of the couples I worked with wanted as few people as possible present in their birth space. Why have a doula when partner knows everything after a great birth class?! A doula can be a comforting presence for the partner- not just for the mom.
The partner and the mother are better served when the partner can simply be an emotional support person. Expecting dad to remember when a Captain Morgan is necessary as opposed to a squat, or the difference between AROM and PROM while checking into the hospital, applying a fierce double hip squeeze and signing intake forms, all at the same time, is a LOT of pressure for anyone, especially someone who wants to have positive birth memories along with the mother.
Mom and dad are incredible and confident when those first labor sensations begin. That’s a beautiful thing. It is also a beautiful thing when dad doesn’t feel an immense pressure to be everything, remember everything, and do everything for the birth. I want him to have a great experience too! I want him to feel supported and grounded and calm, not nervous about how he will perform and what he will forget.
With a Doula present, dad can focus on loving the birthing mom and being her emotional support. Their relationship matters and his presence (even if he is just holding her hand) is a huge comfort to a birthing mother. He can take breaks! Birth takes time and mom isn’t the only person who needs food and bathroom breaks. Birthing women, however, often don’t want to be left alone. A trusted doula and a dad, working together, are able to rest, eat, and fill their own needs while at the same time always have someone there for mom.
An involved partner is often incredibly knowledgeable. But when labor gets going and is fast and furious, do you want dad to have to search his memory banks for the right technique? Do you want him stressed out about that? A doula allows dad to feel less pressure. He doesn’t have to “coach” or otherwise guide the birth. He can do what he does best- love his partner and he can do so stress-free, knowing the doula is there to fill in the gaps.
Dads and doulas usually communicate more with each other during the birth than anyone else. A birthing woman, if she is encouraged to birth intuitively, won’t be communicating with her words very much. Her support people will be communicating with one another. Keep this in mind when choosing your doula, the partner should be part of choosing the doula because they would be helping each other out as they supported the birthing woman.
Even with a great provider, a perfect birthplace, and an incredible partner, couples could still greatly benefit from a doula. Truly dads and doulas work together. A birthing woman can’t have too much incredible support- but she isn’t the only person who needs support- her partner does too!
Are you planning an amazing birth? Don’t forget about your doula.
Doulas are for dads too!