It is often said that birth is all about the laboring woman and baby. There is so much truth to this statement; however, what about the partner? In past decades, and even currently, dads/partners have been portrayed in the birth scene as anxious companions who are unsure of their role. Truth be told, during birth they are typically needed more than ever.
I often encounter situations where partners are hesitant about hiring a doula, although the mom is eager to interview the perfect doula for their birth team. It is common for the partners to see doulas as an unnecessary expense, or they may be overtaking their support role. The sweetest thing is, nine times out of ten, after a birth the partner is the first one to thank their doula while expressing their gratitude.
I love building a relationship with the partner and working closely with them during a birth, just as all doulas do. Every partner is different, every birth is different, and so is the chemistry behind every relationship. What is universal, is the fact that behind every laboring woman, is the need for support from their partners. No one quite understands the ins and outs, the kinks and quirks, the deepest parts of a woman’s soul but the father of her unborn child. Whether or not the partner wants to be a primary roll in the laboring woman’s birth, a doula can be a fantastic part of their birth team who can provide unparalleled knowledge, empowerment and support for both the woman and her partner.
How partners and doulas can work together:
- During prenatal visits, partners and doulas get to know each other just as moms and doulas do. The partner can help their doula understand how he works with his partner on an emotional and physical level to provide ultimate comfort and relaxation.
- During the birth, situations may arise where birth language, medical protocols, interventions and the sensations of labor are very unfamiliar for the partner. A doula does a phenomenal job at bridging that gap, so the partner can understand and feel confident with how their birth is unfolding.
- Some comfort measures or birthing positions may be foreign for the partner. A doula can help show which comfort measures and positions may help the most at certain times. The doula can also provide little reminders for sweet gestures that help the woman feel safe and loved by her partner during labor.
- Often times, labor can be a long process that requires undivided attention from members of the birth team. Having a doula makes it very easy for the partner to take bathroom breaks, eat a meal or even nap without feeling like mom is left alone to labor by herself.
- A doula can help keep the partner taken care of and grounded during labor. Whether it’s getting them a cup of hot coffee, a meal, giving an encouraging pep talk, words of affirmation, or even a back rub. Sometimes the partner may feel a little uneasy, worried or needs extra care. A doula is there to support both of them as a whole.
Partners can often feel an immense amount of pressure to be everything, remember everything and do everything for the birth. When labor gets intense, birth can get fast, furious and REAL. Theres a plethora of thoughts going through the dads mind. Rather than having to potentially worry about being the perfect birth coach, while trying to recall every little technique, it’s great to just let dad support in the ways he knows how, and that’s by loving his partner unconditionally. Having a doula who understands the emotional and physical sensations of labor, is trained in childbirth education, medical interventions, birth terminology, comfort measures, positions optimal for labor and more, can be incredibly comforting for both the mom and partner.
A birthing woman can never have too much incredible support, but she isn’t always the only one that needs support, her partner does too!
-Kiera Curtis, Gentle Waves Birth Service