While interviewing with potential clients, I am asked a lot of questions. Some are sort of bizarre. Some are creative. Some are repeated often and asked by many. There are some questions that definitely have a common theme:
“How will you work with my husband?”
“Will you replace me?” (asked by the husband/father)
“Will I have anything to do with a doula there?” (aked by the husband/father)
“What about my husband? How will he be involved in the birth with you there?”
“Will you support my husband, too?”
See the theme? Both moms and dads are sometimes curious about how dads and doulas work together and worried about a doula taking dad's place in the birth of their baby.
I'm here to assure you, I do not and will not take dad's place during a birth. I have no desire to do that. (Although I have supported a couple moms who did not have her husband/the baby's father at the birth.) I support BOTH mom and dad.
What does that look like? How do I support both mom and dad? How do I work together with dad? I'm a list maker, so here's a list to answer those questions.
1. I am an extra set of hands.
I can be a gopher while dad is with mom. I am able to refill mom and dad's water, grab a snack for mom and/or dad, warm up rice socks, get a cool washcloth for mom, run for a barf bag when mom feels naeuseous, track down extra pillows, shut the door, turn down the lights, turn on some music all while dad focuses uninterrupted on mom. I can support mom while dad uses the bathroom, takes a quick shower, gets something to eat, or takes a catnap. I can rub mom's back while she leans into/on dad. I can massage mom's feet while dad strokes her hair and whispers encouragement. I can apply counter-pressure to mom's hips/back while mom slow dances in dad's arms.
2. I can help dad be helpful to mom.
Even the best prepared dad forgets what he learned in childbirth class once labor begins. I will remember what labor positions are most helpful for back pain. I will remember how often mom is supposed to eat and drink and pee. I will remember what is helpful when mom feels naeuseous. I will remember what signs to look for to know when it's time to go to the birth place. I can set the tone and hold the space with things like candles, essential oils and music, making sure the door is closed and everyone is speaking softly so that dad is able to completely focus on mom.
And even better....I will know things that were not covered in childbirth class and make dad look like a genuious when I suggest that he does things that he's never heard of or seen before but are some how exactly what mom needs.
4. I am experienced, educated, and trained in labor support. I am a birth professional.
I have had two natural births of my own and have attended 29 births now as a doula. I've felt what mom is feeling, both physically and emtionally. I have read countless books, articles and studies about birth. I have attended several workshops taught by the country's top professionals. I know birth. If I don't know the answer to something, I have many resources and a large network of other doulas and professionals to turn to.
5. I am a calm, reassuring, intuitive presence.
I often see a worried/concerned/scared look on dad's face for different reasons during some point in labor. And I can reassure him that what is happening is normal and that everything is OK. Sometimes, the sensations mom feels during labor can be a bit scary for her and I can assure her that everything is fine, and she is doing a good job birthing her baby. I have been told by many clients that I have great intuition and somehow know what mom needs without her saying it. I am not emotionally invested/connected to mom and baby in the same way that dad is and can offer an objective perspective when needed.
I am able to remain calm and present in the rare circumstances that something may not go as planned and help mom and dad through difficult situations.
Dads and doulas play very different but equally important roles on the birth team. Dad knows and loves mom best. I know (and love!) birth best. I work for and with dad as he supports mom. And I love it.
Dads, what do you think was the most helpful thing your doula did for YOU? Comment below!
*Photo credit: Traci Greve and Kara Holden
Amber Piller - Professional Birth Doula and owner of Agape Birth Services. Serving Northwest Houston including Jersey Village, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Katy Texas.