“My husband (partner) is my left hand, and my doula is my right.”Doulas Making a Difference
During pregnancy and labor, and even some postpartum, partners tend to get overlooked, even though they need support as well. While the word “doula” means “woman’s servant”, the support and education provided is not limited to only the mother. Partners need support, too.
*In this blog, I will be referring to Dad and Partner interchangeably.*
The Benefits of Doulas for Partners
Yes, laboring women have the difficult jobs of passing a child through their bodies for an extended period of time. However, it is easy to forget that partners play a significant role in this childbirth work. They are counted on for support, water and snacks, encouragement, and comfort measures throughout the process. Labor is hard work for partners, too, and having a doula present at labor and birth can provide a great number of benefits to your partner.
First, let’s look at the context of birth. Partners, especially first time dads, may not be very familiar with the process of labor and birth. They may have read books, done research, and talked with you about what to expect, but once labor arrives and it’s go-time, theory becomes way easier than practice. Doulas, on the other hand, are specifically trained to provide information and support during labor. So, while Dads bring the love, doulas bring the knowledge; and while doulas bring the skill, Dads bring the bond with the mother.
Doulas are also trained to provide continuous, or non-stop, support. This means that Mom has the support she needs and Dad can rest or eat as he needs to, so he can maintain his energy. Gathering his thoughts, sitting down to rest, having something to drink or eat, refreshing his knowledge through reading are all things that Dad can do, and still be assured that Mom is still receiving quality support.
How Doulas and Partners Can Work Together
Doulas are not replacements of partners, by any means. Instead, they provide a complementary support which enhances the birth experience for both parents. As mentioned, doulas can provide the continuous support should your partner need to rest, but doulas and partners can also work together to provide exquisite support to mother while she labors.
Massage is a wonderful pain management technique that can be administered by a doula or the partner. Luckily, should both be present, Mom can receive a massage that is especially comforting. For example, one person can be rubbing Mom’s back and hips while the other gently massages her head. Having the extra set of hands also means that your partner can “catch” the baby, should he/she choose to do so.
Here are some other ideas for your partner and doula to work together:
- One support person massages your hips or back while the other recites and practices birth affirmations with you
- Continuous massage from your doula coupled with steady eye contact from your partner
- Since doulas are trained in labor and birth, your partner is able to fully enjoy the birth without the added pressure of continuous support
- Doulas and partners can take “shifts” for massage, meaning non-stop comfort for you
- If your partner becomes nervous, doulas can work with him/her to remember what was learned in childbirth class, and help guide and reassure him/her to remain calm while providing information on different comfort techniques, giving him/her more confidence in their role
Many couples have also reported that having a doula present at labor and birth actually enhanced their experience, since Dad was able to relax and fully enjoy the birth experience and completely focus on Mom (should he choose to do so). When both Mom and Dad are focused on the beauty of birth, they are able to both be present and enjoy it that much more.