In the first 2 parts of this series (found here and here), I discussed communication and choosing a childbirth class. In this third and final installment, I’ll be focusing on the pinnacle of all the preparation: the birth! Like I mentioned previously, the presence of men during labor and birth is relatively new, considering that for thousands of years a birthing woman was surrounded only by women. It’s for this reason that I highly recommend that expectant couples hire a doula.
A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous labor support. Typically, she has no affiliation with a physician or hospital which allows her to solely focus on the needs of her laboring client. While you may be familiar with the ways a woman will benefit from the presence of a doula, it’s important to know that a doula is beneficial for expectant fathers as well. Here are some of the ways that doulas can be helpful to both you and your partner:
- No matter what role your husband wants to play during labor, a doula will guide him in that role. Some dads deeply desire to be very hands-on during their partner’s labor, providing labor support in a variety of ways. Other dads may want to help their partner but they’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. And sometimes, too, there are dads who feel most comfortable simply being present but leaving the labor support to others. Doulas can help all of these dads in a variety of ways, while also providing the utmost support for the laboring woman.
- Having a doula present will take the pressure off of your husband. As mentioned previously, fathers today often feel a tremendous amount of pressure to fill a certain role during your birth. Men have emotions, fears and concerns, too. A doula provides peace-of-mind for dads knowing that they can be in the moment during the birth without the added pressure of having to “perform.” Also, it’s important to remember that doulas are used to being up at 3:00 am supporting a mom a labor. An expectant father, however, is not! A doula’s presence can allow dad to rest and take breaks when needed, so that he can be fully present during and after the birth.
- Doulas can remain objective. Nobody likes to watch a loved one go through difficulties, especially when it comes to husbands watching their wives experience labor. It’s often the inclination of men to say, “Get an epidural!” the moment he senses that your labor is becoming challenging. However, doulas are used to seeing laboring women. They are well-versed in the highs and lows of labor and are trained to help each woman through her unique journey to birth. Doulas can also help moms and dads objectively navigate through the pros, cons and alternatives of different medical interventions that are commonplace in hospital births.
There are many other positive benefits in having a trained doula present during labor/birth. Check out DONA to find a doula near you. The journey to birth has the potential to be a transforming experience for both women and men!
By Expert Mommy, Sarah Baker