Likely everyone agrees that having support is essential to a positive labor and delivery experience. However, some may wonder if a doula is really necessary if there will be a spouse or partner there for support. Are their roles the same? And does having a doula put dad on the outside of the circle? What can a doula add to the experience for both partners? Let’s learn more about how doulas help dads.
Many first time parents are not entirely familiar with doulas and what they do. In short, a doula is a trained labor assistant who provides emotional and physical support to both mom and her partner during childbirth. (And not just during childbirth! Hiring a doula typically means prenatal visits, being on call 24/7 around your due date, support during labor and birth, and at least one postpartum visit.)
Read More: Should I Hire a Birth Doula?
Better Birth Outcomes
Studies have shown that when mom receives labor support from a doula, she can anticipate to have better birth outcomes, including:
- More likely to report feeling positive and satisfied with her birth (1)
- Less likely to have a non-indicated (not medically necessary) cesarean section (2)
- Two times less likely to experience birth complications involving herself or her baby (3)
- More likely to begin breastfeeding (3)
How Do Doulas Help Dads?
So, it’s clear that doulas help moms, but how do they help dads/partners?
Doulas Bring Experience
Whether dad is a first-timer or has been there before, he’s likely not familiar with the birth process the way a trained doula is. Labor and delivery can be overwhelming for both partners. It can be hard to know what to expect, what’s normal, how to interpret what the medical team is telling you, etc. Dad may feel stressed about remembering what he learned in childbirth class or read about.
A doula brings a voice of experience. She can help reassure parents when the things they’re experiencing — things that may seem unfamiliar or even worrisome to them — are just normal parts of labor. She can help talk couples through medical decisions that may need to be made. A doula can help show dad physical ways he can support mom or help ease her discomfort. And in doing so, doulas offer a sense of calm and emotional support to both parents.
Doulas Can Be Your Voice (Or Help You Use Your Own)
Many people find it hard to speak up, especially in high-stress or fast moving situations. By discussing your wishes with you ahead of time, your doula will know what your preferences are in different situations that may arise and help remind you of those choices. And not just in medical situations, either.
Your doula can help remind or encourage dad to participate in the ways he is comfortable. This may mean making way for him to “get in there” and provide massage or emotional support during active labor. Or it may mean ensuring that he doesn’t feel pushed or guilty if the couple has agreed ahead of time that he’s the type to observe and support more quietly. Either way, a doula will check in with mom and partner and make sure both are feeling supported and empowered.
Doulas Are Tag Team Partners
Labor and delivery can be long and exhausting. If dad is the only support person available, he may feel like he’s not able to leave mom’s side for a moment. And yes, that’s noble — she’s going through a lot. But it’s okay to admit that even though mom is doing the heavy lifting, dad’s also get tired, hungry, overwhelmed, or need a pee break.
A doula helps a dad by allowing him to step away without feeling guilty for leaving his partner’s side. Whether this means making a quick phone call to family or just a chance to sit down and rest for a few minutes in a marathon labor, your doula is there to “tag into the ring” so that mom always has the continuous support she needs.
Doulas Are There For (Almost) Any Need
Most doulas are happy to support you in whatever way they need to as the odd eventualities of labor pop up. If either parent needs a bite to eat but dad really doesn’t want to step away, the doula may be the cafeteria runner. If someone needs to help usher guests in and out, gather overlooked supplies in the case of a home birth, or whatever other needs may crop up, your doula’s got you covered.
But while we’re at it, let’s hit the short list of things doulas do not do:
- They don’t drive mom and partner to the hospital
- They don’t perform any medical procedures
- Doulas don’t take mom or partner’s place in talking to the doctor/midwife
Doulas Help Boost Dads’ (and Moms’) Confidence
You’re more likely to feel comfortable and confident knowing your support circle includes someone who has been there many times. Not only can you lean on her knowledge, but she can reassure and remind you of your own knowledge and capability. Sometimes, even just the presence of a doula makes a parent team feel more confident.
How Do Doulas Help Dads? The Takeaway
A doula is, for both parents, an incredible resource, a source of support and encouragement, a partner, and kind of an all-around birth magician. Okay, maybe not that last one. But a doula is an educated and experienced birth worker who can give global support to new parents as they enter the most amazing journey of their lives. If your situation and budget allows, we highly recommend considering adding a doula to your birth team.
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for a natural hospital birth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class and start preparing for your natural birth!
- Hardin, A. M., & Buckner, E. B. (2004). Characteristics of a Positive Experience for Women Who Have Unmedicated Childbirth. Journal of Perinatal Education, 13(4), 10-16. doi:10.1624/105812404×6180
- Attanasio, L. B., BA, Jou, J., MPH, Joarnt, L. K., Johnson, P. J., PhD, & Gjerdingen, D. K., MD. (2014, August 28). Potential Benefits of Increased Access to Doula Support During Childbirth. Retrieved September 06, 2020, from https://www.ajmc.com/view/potential-benefits-of-increased-access-to-doula-support-during-childbirth
- Gruber, K. J., Cupito, S. H., & Dobson, C. F. (2013). Impact of doulas on healthy birth outcomes. The Journal of perinatal education, 22(1), 49–58. https://doi.org/10.1891/1058-1243.22.1.49