Daddies and Doulas
Why hire a doula when she has me?!
Asking your husband to be your sole guide through labor 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
Dads, doulas are for you, too! When the time comes for labor and birth, mothers aren't the only ones who may feel anxiety or fear. Fathers many times have their own concerns as well and wonder how they will be able to help. You may feel a lot of pressure when it comes to being a support or coach during labor. If you are unfamiliar with birth, it can be understandably worrisome to see your wife in labor. Her sounds, actions, and intensity can be startling. While birth classes are a good asset to help prepare for labor, when in the heat of the battle it may be hard to remember all the labor processes and medical jargon. As a doula, I can reassure both of you that certain elements of labor are definitely normal, and help both of you work through each situation that arises. Sometimes you might just need a break for fresh air or a bite to eat.
You may plan to be very active in supporting your wife with physical comfort, helping her stay focused during contractions, and applying counter pressure or other soothing methods. As a doula, I can offer suggestions to help you best meet her needs. Or if you prefer, I can simply wait in the background, ready to step forward when needed.
Some fathers are unsure of the role they will fill. I can help you be as involved as you desire. With guidance from a doula, you may feel more relaxed and comfortable in helping during all stages of labor. Having someone show you how to apply counter pressure or use other comfort measures can give you confidence in your ability to serve her. Many times, two sets of hands are helpful and we can work together.
For many fathers who are very nervous, a doula will be a welcome relief. Having someone experienced in labor and birth can help promote a calm and peaceful atmoshphere. I can handle the physical aspects of labor support and allow you to focus on her emotional needs. Regardless of your role during labor, your love and care are unique and are not replaced by a doula. As a doula, one of my goals is to help fill in any gaps, not to replace a person.
I want an epidural. Why have a doula?
Doulas don't just do natural births! A doula can make a big difference for mothers who desire an epidural. Non-judgmental support is a plus! You don't need someone making rude comments about your desire for an epidural or wondering "how long you will last." While epidurals are considered to generally be an effective form of pain relief, they do have risks and potential side effects. I can help make sure you have accurate information to make an informed decision.
If you choose to wait as long as possible to receive an epidural, I can assist with relaxation and pain-coping techniques. During the administration of the epidural, if you desire, I am willing to remain with you. (Many times, only one other person is allowed in the room.) Mobility is reduced with an epidural, but is still important to help prevent common side effects such as fetal mal-positioning, slowed labor progress, etc. Rotating from side to side, and alternating between sitting and side lying can be helpful. A doula can remind and help you to change positions frequently.
Because of the extra monitoring required for epidural patients, you may feel that the machines and monitors are mostly what is being watched. As your doula, you are my primary focus!
Planned cesarean birth?
While it is true that many women who hire a doula are seeking for a natural or low-intervention birth, a doula can be very beneficial in the case of a planned cesarean. I seek to support women in ALL births. A doula's role will definitely be less physical for a c-section, but still a very beneficial asset. I can assist you during the admission procedure, help you relax while receiving an epidural, give you information as desired of what is happening during the surgery, and take photos. The repair time can significantly delay the time until you are able to hold your baby. During that time, I can remain by you and allow the father to be with the baby.
If you had originally planned a natural birth, you may feel that you have no options or decisions to make if a c-section has become medically necessary. There are still choices you can make and a birth plan is still a good idea. Simple requests such as planning for the father to announce the gender (if unknown) and to cut the cord, or playing music during the operation, can help make the best of the situation. Postpartum plans can also be made. Check with you doctor and find out what can be done to make the experience as satisfying as possible. Let your doctor know of your desire to have a doula with you in the operating room and plan ahead with the medical staff to avoid any issues when the big day arrives!
Cesarean sections can also present challenges for breastfeeding. A doula can assist with helping you work through them.