Dads and Doulas

Doulas aren’t just there for the mum, they are there to help the fathers as well.

At Norwest Doula Services we aim to get dads involved as much as they want to be.

How do doulas help dads ?

  • Guilt free breaks. Stepping in to help when the partner needs a short break.
    Labour is hard work, not just for the woman, but for those supporting her!
  • Helping  dads be helpful. Sometimes dad wants to be help but he’s not sure where to begin. Or he may feel intimidated by the medical staff coming  in and out of the room. The doula can empower him to supoprt his partner.
  • Emotional support. Providing reassurance to the partner as well as the woman giving birth. If a partner has never seen a woman in labour
    before, it can be very reassuring to have someone focused on his
    needs to answer questions, givean encouraging smile, and put
    everything into context! This is an amazing journey for partners too!
  • Less pressure. With a doula  present the couple will not need to worry about forgetting their birth plans or trying to remember the pros and cons of interventions. Also for the father who wishes to take a back seat, a doula allows him to relax and experience the birth without being actively involved.

Myths About Dads and Doulas

By Penny Simkin, PT

Myth 1 – If a woman has her partner, the doula becomes redundant.

Reality – The doula may be the only person at the labor besides the partner who is there solely for the emotional well-being of the woman. The nurse, the doctor, the midwife have other priorities that compete with the emotional care of the woman: for example, breaks, shift changes, clinical responsibilities, office hours and hospital policies. The doula has few or no other priorities. She stays through shift changes, and until after the baby is born She is not just another stranger with the couple She has the woman’s needs as her sole priority. In some cases, the couple will bring several other friends or family members into labour with them. Sometimes these people can be uncertain of how to help which leads to confusion and actually adds to the woman’s stress. The doula can direct and coordinate the efforts of a group of people, giving them all some-thing useful to do, so they work as a team on the woman’s behalf.

Myth 2 – The doula “takes over”, displacing the partner and interferes with their intimate experience.

Reality – The doula can actually bring the couple closer. By making sure that the partner’s needs are met (food, drink, occasional back rubs, and reassurance), the woman and partner can work more closely together. The doula allows for the partner to participate at his own comfort level. Some partners prefer to be there only to witness the birth of their child and to share this experience with the woman they love. They may not want to play an active role and do not want to be responsible for the woman’s comfort and emotional security. The doula can fill in and allow the partner to participate as he wishes, without leaving the woman’s needs unmet. When the partner chooses to be the major source of emotional support, the doula can supplement his or her efforts by running errands, making suggestions for comfort measures, and offering words of reassurance and comfort. During a long tiring labour, she can give the partner a break for a brief rest or change of scene. While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals, and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman’s personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he loves the woman more than anyone else there. The combined contributions of partner and doula, along with a competent, considerate and caring staff gives the woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.

Myth 3 – The doula has her own beliefs about how the birth should go, and imposes it on the woman or couple.

Reality – The doula’s true agenda is to help ensure that the woman’s or couple’s agenda is acknowledged and followed as much as possible. If the doula is thoroughly familiar with the couple’s wishes and their birth plan, she may actually think more about it than the couple, especially when labor is intense and things are happening rapidly. The doula can remind the staff or the couple of some items on the birth plan that are forgotten, but which later might be important. Sometimes if a birth plan is not followed, the couple later look back with regret or disappointment. The doula helps with decision-making by asking questions that will ensure that the right information is given to the woman or couple so that they can make an informed decision. She may also suggest alternatives for the couple to consider. She does not, however, make decisions for the couple.

Summary

In summary, the doula helps make the birth experience to be as rewarding and satisfying as possible. As one father said:

“I heaved a big sigh of relief when she (the doula) walked in. I hadn’t realized how much pressure I had been feeling. She not only calmed my wife, she calmed me down.”

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Click here for a great article on Dads and Doulas, and how together they can make a great team!