Dads and Doulas
“Asking your husband to be your sole guide through labour is like asking him to lead the way on a climb of Mt Everest. He may be smart and trustworthy, you may love him, but in the Himalayas you’d both be a lot better off with a Sherpa!” Pam England
Some people worry that having a doula will be unnecessary if the father is there, others that the doula might take over and push the father out of the picture.
Neither of these is correct – the doula and father are an ideal team, working together to fully support the mother. The doula will also support the father, allowing him to take time to enjoy the experience.
When a doula and father work together, I often think of the father as offering emotional support, and the doula as offering functional support. The father knows his partner best, he knows how she looks when she’s worried, what calms her when she’s stressed, and events that have shaped her. She feels comfortable with him, telling him what she needs, or what touch soothes her (or when to leave her alone!).
A doula has experience of childbirth. She knows what to expect and is not fazed by the experiences of labour. She will offer the father suggestions and reassurance. She will stay focused on the mother’s plans, making opportunities for more questions to be asked, or for things to be explained differently or alternative options explored. She knows when to grab the damp cloth, when to suggest a position change, or offer an affirming word if things get tough.
A doula will oversee the labour and birth, making sure that both mum and dad have as positive birth experience as possible. Knowing that someone else is responsible for looking out for the mothers wishes is often a great relief to fathers. It allows them to get lost in the experience, and be tuned in to the mother’s emotional needs. Just knowing someone is there to support them helps fathers stay calmer and more relaxed.