Dads/Birth Partners and Birth Doulas
Many partners are concerned about what their role will be when a doula is present. To answer some common concerns, Penny Simkin with Doulas of North America (DONA) has written the following.
If a woman has her partner, the doula becomes redundant.
The doula may be the only person at the labor besides the partner who is there solely for the emotional well-being of the woman. The nurse, the doctor, the midwife have other priorities that compete with the emotional care of the woman: for example, breaks, shift changes, clinical responsibilities, office hours and hospital policies. The doula has few or no other priorities. She stays through shift changes, and until after the baby is born She is not just another stranger with the couple She has the woman’s needs as her sole priority. In some cases, the couple will bring several other friends or family members into labor with them. Sometimes these people can be uncertain of how to help which leads to confusion and actually adds to the woman’s stress. The doula can direct and coordinate the efforts of a group of people, giving them all something useful to do, so they work as a team on the woman’s behalf.
The doula can actually bring the couple closer. By making sure that the partner’s needs are met (food, drink, occasional back rubs, and reassurance), the woman and partner can work more closely together. The doula allows for the partner to participate at his own comfort level. Some partners prefer to be there only to witness the birth of their child and to share this experience with the woman they love. They may not want to play an active role and do not want to be responsible for the woman’s comfort and emotional security. The doula can fill in and allow the partner to participate as he wishes, without leaving the woman’s needs unmet. When the partner chooses to be the major source of emotional support, the doula can supplement his or her efforts by running errands, making suggestions for comfort measures, and offering words of reassurance and comfort. During a long tiring labor, she can give the partner a break for a brief rest or change of scene.
While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals, and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman’s personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he loves the woman more than anyone else there. The combined contributions of partner and doula, along with a competent, considerate and caring staff gives the woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.
The doula has her own beliefs about how the birth should go, and imposes it on the woman or couple.
The doula’s true agenda is to help ensure that the woman’s or couple’s agenda is acknowledged and followed as much as possible. If the doula is thoroughly familiar with the couple’s wishes and their birth plan, she may actually think more about it than the couple, especially when labor is intense and things are happening rapidly. The doula can remind the staff or the couple of some items on the birth plan that are forgotten, but which later might be important. Sometimes if a birth plan is not followed, the couple later look back with regret or disappointment.
The doula helps with decision-making by asking questions that will ensure that the right information is given to the woman or couple so that they can make an informed decision. She may also suggest alternatives for the couple to consider. She does not, however, make decisions for the couple.
In summary, the doula helps make the birth experience to be as rewarding and satisfying as possible. As one father said, “I hea
Behind the Scenes Birth Coach
For the father who wants to really be active and provide all the physical and emotional support, the doula can help with hints, reminders, and advice during the birth, so he can just focus on his wife.
Is the mother having back labor? The father may not recognize this, or even know what to do. But the doula is trained to figure out what’s bothering the mother the most, and all the possible ways to help her feel more comfortable. The doula can tell the dad what she thinks would help his wife best, while he does the actual work and support.
The doula can also bring drinks and snacks to the father, so he can keep up his energy during the long labor. She can take the time to speak with nurses or seek out extra pillows, allowing the father to stay with his wife without interruption.
Tag-team Birth Support
Most labors last several hours, sometimes lasting 12 hours and longer. A doula’s presence allows the birth partner to take guilt free breaks. They can go get a bite to eat, or take a nap, without feeling that they left the mother alone.
Whether they need to take just a few breaks during labor, or they prefer to switch every hour with the doula to keep their energy up, it will allow the mother to feel supported and cared for continuously.
Chance to Just Experience the Birth
As mentioned earlier, society places a lot of pressure on fathers and birth partners to provide the sole support for their partner’s during labor. But many fathers or birth partners would prefer to just experience the moment with their wives, without the pressure to perform.
A doula can provide full support for the mother, allowing the father or birth partner to take a back-seat from active support, and give them the chance to experience the birth along side her.
Before the birth, it’s important that the doula, mother, and father or birth partner all sit together and talk about how they envision the childbirth. It’s also important that the father or birth partner participate in choosing and hiring the doula, since they should both feel comfortable with whomever they choose to attend this special moment in their lives.
exerpts from www.doula.com