Expectant dads, upon hearing that their partner wants to meet with a doula, may be apprehensive. Moms that have heard of a friend using a doula may feel the same way. Dads or partners may say/ask, “Why do we need a doula? Am I not enough help? The doula will take over and leave me sitting on the sidelines. I want to be her main support. Why do we need a doula when there are doctors and nurses at the hospital?” Moms may ask, “Why do I need a Doula if I have my husband or boyfriend to support me?”
Here is why a doula and a dad are the perfect team in labor. Dad knows mom intimately. He knows her likes and dislikes. He knows her body and her mind. His touch will always mean more to her than the doula’s touch. I have seen firsthand when, I, as a doula, show a dad where to apply counter pressure to his wife’s back and then step back and allow them to work through the contractions together. Mom’s face then changes and she relaxes under his touch. I have reassured worried dads that what is happening with mom is normal and not to worry. I make suggestions to help enhance his support role. I can tell mom she is beautiful but when her husband looks into her eyes and tells her she is beautiful and he loves her, the oxytocin that is released into her body at that moment can serve to relieve her pain far better than what anyone else in the room can. As a doula, I have tips and tricks to help labor progress and relieve the pain, yes, but when I help Dad help his wife--THAT is when magical things happen.
A doula, however, knows birth.
She knows how the different stages of labor are changing Mom’s body and the doula can empathize with what Mom is feeling since she, herself, has likely been there before and honestly assure mom that she CAN do it through each step of the process. Through our time, prenatally, I have taken time to get to know each couple and their hopes and dreams for their pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I use that information I have learned from the parents to help the medical team as they care for mom. As a doula, I act as a guide to help Mom and Dad navigate both labor and delivery and I can serve as a bridge for communication between the medical staff and the couple.
Your nursing staff also plays a key role in your care and while most would love nothing more than to be able to be by Mom’s side continuously, nurses most likely have other patients in labor. They have to pass medicine, answer call lights, and perform medical tasks (both big and small) among the MANY other tasks nurses are responsible for during your stay. I LOVE nurses and have worked with many wonderful nurses. My intention is not to diminish their role in your birth at all because they are very important and wonderful. A good nurse can make all the difference, but more often than not, they cannot stay with Mom during her entire labor. Your doula only serves you. She does not leave your side while you are in labor, apart from using the restroom, or maybe stepping into the hall/waiting room for a quick snack. Your doula does not change shifts so she is with you from beginning to end. Your doula knows your specific wishes for labor and delivery, so that relieves the stress of having to share your wishes with each nurse on each shift. Every nursing staff that I have worked with to date has been very grateful I was there.
In short, I, as a doula, do not take the place of anyone you plan to have supporting you in your labor or delivery. I simply enhance the role of those supporting you. I am there to work WITH everyone, not replace anyone.
If we were to compare it to football, Dad is the quarterback. Dad calls some plays, is IN the game handling the ball, and guiding it down the field. He knows the final goal but he cannot fully see every player since he is in the middle of the field.
A Doula is the coach and the coach sometimes calls a play since the coach can see how the other team is playing. The coach tells the quarterback some things he might not be able to see from his vantage point and the coach helps him and the other players.
What about mom and baby? The ball represents Mom and the Baby. Mom is the reason all the players are on the field! When things change with Mom, the other players shift their focus to best handle the situation and win the game.
Dads and Doulas make a GREAT team.
*For more information about how a doula supports dad in the labor room please read this article from DONA International :