Updated: Aug 24, 2020
A doula can help support your partner during your birth and make your baby’s arrival a beautiful, memorable experience for the whole family. Whether it’s a romantic partner, a friend or another family member, like the baby’s grandma; the birth partner’s experience matters in birth. Doulas are there to support every birth partner in being as involved as they’d like with the birth. Physical and emotional support make a huge difference for everyone involved.
Historically, dads were never expected to assist moms in birth. These days things are completely the opposite. Many partners are expected to perform as if they were actually a doula! How can this be so? They’ve likely never even attended a birth before! Often, having a doula present at birth will take some pressure off of the partner. In my experience, partners sometimes perform best in the roll of loving partners rather than as a doula.
With the pressure off of partners to be an amazing doula, they tend to be more present and are therefore most helpful to their laboring partners. More moms with varying birth plans are investing in doula support – and for good reason. Studies have linked trained doulas with a lowered chance of having a cesarean and improved odd of feeling positive about your childbirth experience.
However, doulas aren’t there only for the gestational parent. They also play a key role in helping their partners, offering them invaluable emotional and practical support during the overwhelming experience of childbirth. Doulas have many roles, fitting in where they are needed, lifting up and supporting the partner in order for them to support the laboring parent. Doulas can fade into the background and allow the laboring parent and their partner to connect. Although I believe my role is important, it’s ultimately about the birthing couple.
Even so, it’s common for the partner to worry that having a doula during delivery might push them out of the main labor support role. Doulas insist that couldn’t be further from the truth. Doulas are there to accentuate their involvement, not to take their place. Here are four important ways doulas can help make your baby’s birth a beautiful, memorable experience for you and your partner.
Provide around-the-clock care. Doulas offer continuous physical and emotional support, starting from when you call them as you’re going into labor to a couple hours after your baby is born. Unlike nurses, doctors, and midwives, who change shifts, a doula will stay with you whether your labor is five hours or 55 hours. Already-stressed-out partners can be reassured knowing someone else is there for the long haul. They support your vision. You can count on a doula to back you and your choices, whether that means a water birth at home or a planned cesarean section in the hospital. You can also rest assured that the doula will support your partner. Some families prefer their doula to be more hands-on, as it is the client’s direction that determines what type of support is given, while some prefer emotional support alone. It’s not about what the doula wants. Doulas focus on helping the partner shine and fostering the connection between partner and laboring parent-to-be. Your doula will talk with you during prenatal meetings to get an idea of what kind of role you and your partner would like her to play. They’re an extra set of hands. There are lots of benefits to having a doula with you through the entire delivery experience. All-day care means your partner can rest, relax, or take a break if needed. Plus, a doula can pitch in when it comes to necessities like fetching water or meals, taking photos, and updating your families and friends so the partner can focus on supporting the laboring parent-to-be. They bring wisdom and experience. Most partners are experiencing childbirth for the first or second time, but a doula has attended a number of births and has a wealth of experience to draw from. Don’t underestimate how helpful this can be. A doula will remind a concerned parent-to-be that your moaning is, in fact, normal, or that pushing can take a few hours for a first birth. She will help talk you and your partner through decisions that may need to be made during labor. Plus, a doula can offer various ways to comfort you, including changes in position, massage, and relaxation techniques. Doulas and the partner work together to support the laboring parent-to-be—the doula bringing her knowledge of birth, and the partner bringing love for the laboring parent-to-be.