Doulas and Dads

A common theme I hear about when a couple chooses to not use a doula, is that the Dad wants to have an active role in the birth of their child. I’m here to tell you that these ideas are not mutually exclusive. Doulas can actually enhance the experience of the father as well as the mother, especially when the father has taken an active role in the childbirth preparation and labor.

First let me explain to you what doulas do NOT do, which I think might be widely misunderstood. Doulas do not ‘take over’, nor do we step inbetween you and your wife, or advocate for your medical decisions with the doctor. We don't perform vaginal exams, or monopolize the birth room in any way.

Doulas do not have decision making power, are not disruptive to the process or labor, or the connection between mom and dad. A good doula will know in the interview that Dad wants to be very involved, and only step in help him when he needs it. There is nothing sweeter than watching a laboring couple love one another through contractions, needing no assistance at all.

Doulas are there to serve you both, protect your interests, and divert the power to the couple that is laboring. This means, if mom is being coached beautifully by dad, we stand back and let that happen, offering a hand to hold, a position change, or a straw to sip from as time goes on. In this sense, we can work as a team, offering two voices of reason, two hands to hold, and two levels of experience to comfort her with.

On the practical side, it is important to note that there will be at least two other people in the room during delivery, and it would be nice to have met a few of them before push time. Also practically speaking, doulas can offer dad a moment to go to the bathroom, get something to eat, or get off his feet for a few minutes, which is SUCH a blessing in the longer labors. Doulas also come with a wealth of knowledge on what positon helps what, when to walk and when to rest, and many other things that only experience can teach, which can make both parents feel more proactive and capable throughout the labor.

We can also provide a sounding board for fathers who need to make a medical decision and don’t want to decide ‘on the spot’ with the doctors and nurses watching. A doula can offer information on the risks and benefits of procedures and confirm the situation that warrants that procedure, so that Dad can decide more easily,whether he thinks this intervention is right for them.

I think the most important piece, is that we understand how hard it is to protect the one you love most when you have no control. We are there to help reframe these feelings of helplessness, and create a subtle support network to aid in decision making, and the process of labor. We can take a stressful moment and turn it into a good memory. We can reassure dads who have not seen the face of a laboring woman that ‘yes, this is normal, yes, we are doing the right thing’. As well as supporting dad throughout the labor as a significant piece of the family we have been hired to support.

I cannot speak for every doula, just for myself. But I can say that doula dads seem to walk away with a higher confidence in themselves, and are much happier in their outlook of the labor, even if it contained some less than ideal circumstances. Dads and doulas are SUCH a good team, and it would be a real shame to have to labor without either one of them.

Here is a video of Taye Diggs (very funny) talking about the birth he and his wife used a doula for.


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