As a doula, I find that one of the main concerns of couples wanting to hire a doula doesn’t always come from the mother, but stems deep within the father.
“Won’t a doula take my place at the birth?”
“If a doula is there, what can I do?”
“Why do you need a doula if you have me?”
“I don’t understand. You don’t want my help?”
These are all valid and extremely important questions for a dad to mull over when choosing a birth team. I love when dads ask these questions, because I know that they want to be involved, and they feel like hiring “labor support” is going to take away from their job as a father during labor.
Let me lay it out, before I go any further… A doula NEVER takes the place of anyone during pregnancy and childbirth. She is there to offer additional support, love, hands, nurturing, and knowledge.
It is often hard for a dad to know just what to do and when to do it during labor. On the other hand, even though you are partners, moms can’t always expect dads to know what to do during labor. It’s hard for a man to watch the woman he loves go through so much pain while he feels as if there’s nothing he can do to protect her.
A doula can be a guide to show him just how he can be of help to the mom.
For instance, if I see a dad standing beside the mom eager to do something, but not really knowing what, I will ask him if he’d like to massage her back. Most of the time, he has no idea what to do, but I don’t make a big deal of that. I show him where his hands should go and how he should rub, and I walk away until the mom is ready to move on to something else.
Other ways I help dad be involved:
- Ahead of time, prepare a gift for her to be given during early labor. It can be as simple as a focal point, small blanket, or even a poem.
- Understand the different stages of labor so that you can have a better understanding of what she is going through.
- Encouragement and positive thoughts are always helpful and important to a mother during labor.
- Be the messenger. Most friends and family members will want to be a part of the special time, but they’ll not be in the room. A dad can act as a messenger bringing the mom words of encouragement from the waiting area.
- Gently offer sips of water, a cold rag, or a warm blanket.
- If you sing… sing to her and for her.
- Hold her hand.
- Time her contractions, even if you’re just doing it for memory book sake.
- Ask the her what you can do to help her be more comfortable, and if she’s unresponsive, ask the doula