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In honor of Father’s Day and since tomorrow is the Doula Tea, I’d like to do a post about Doulas and Dads.

There are a great many myths about doulas – especially where dads are concerned. However, douas can be a huge help to dads during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Doulas can do many things for dads as well as for moms during the labor and birth.

Many dads can feel awkward and unsure during birth and sometimes even during pregnancy. A doula can help the dad feel more confident in his abilities to help the laboring mother by suggesting helpful things for him to do and by encouraging him in his accomplishments.

There are some pervasive myths about doulas and dads that I’d like to address today. For more information about doulas and dads, please consider attending the Doula Tea on Monday at 7pm at Earth Fare in Martinez, GA.

Myth #1 – Doulas will take over the role of the father during birth.

  • This is one myth that should never ever happen. The father has a very important role in birth even if he doesn’t want to be extremely involved with labor support. His role is also that of becoming a father – it’s his birth too and on that note:
  • A good doula is very careful to pay attention to what the dad wants during labor and delivery. If a dad wants to be very involved, part of the role of a doula is to help facilitate his involvement. If a dad doesn’t want to be involved in the birth very much then the doula’s job is to help him figure out how he can be involved within his comfort level (if the mother wants him to be).
  • A good doula will ask the dad what his wishes and desires for the birth are during the prenatal visit(s) and then will do everything in her power to help both the mom’s and dad’s desired birth be fulfilled to their satisfaction.

Myth #2 – You don’t need a doula if you have a supportive husband.

  • This myth is sometimes true, however, even the most supportive of husbands will need to eat and go to the bathroom occasionally – especially during a long labor.
  • Supportive husbands can sometimes use support themselves. Most husbands, regardless of their desired involvement, haven’t been to many (if any) births previously and they have not had any formal training regarding labor support. Sometimes even the most educated dads won’t remember labor positions or comfort techniques in the heat of the moment and the doula can serve as a reminder by showing the dad how he can help relieve the mom’s discomfort and by suggesting varied birthing positions to aid with pain relief, as well as reassuring both mom and dad that they’re both doing a great job!

Myth #3 – Doulas are only supportive of certain birth choices.

  • The role of a doula is to provide informational, emotional, and physical support during pregnancy, labor, and birth as well as directly afterwards. A good doula will be supportive of your informed choice to get pain medication or to have a medication-free birth.
  • Doulas may not have made the same choices you have for their own births, but one of the signs of a good doula is the ability to separate her own personal decisions from the decisions of her clients.
  • A good doula will understand that there is a time and a place for interventions – a mother who wants an epidural can be encouraged to continue without one for a few contractions, but if she continues to ask for one, it is beyond a doula’s scope of practice to repeatedly talk her client out of an epidural or any other intervention – especially when the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
  • A doula will provide information about the pros and cons of interventions, but in the end, it is the client’s decision and that decision usually involves the dad.

Myth #4 – A doula will interfere with family bonding time.

  • A doula is your paid employee. If, at any time, the birthing mother and father wish to be alone, a doula will leave until she is needed again. A good doula will do her best to blend into the background when the dad is working well with the mom and when they clearly are doing well without her active assistance. Continuous passive support has even been shown to be beneficial to laboring women.
  • A doula can even run interference if you have family members or friends who wish to intrude upon your private times during and after birth. There won’t be any repercussions to your doula if she suggests to your mother-in-law or aunt that maybe you and the baby’s father should be left alone for a little while.

Myth #5 – My husband was present during my other births so we both know what we’re doing and don’t need a doula.

  • This is true, to a degree – a father who has been to a birth or births previously will be an even greater asset during a subsequent birth. However, your baby’s father has, almost certainly, not been to as many births as most doulas have and every labor and birth is different. You might have had short, easy births previously and this time you might end up having horrible back pain during a long, slow labor. The reassurance of a doula, that your labor is normal even when it isn’t what you’ve experienced before, can be invaluable, as can her experience with many different types of labor in many different situations.

If you have any more questions about the role of doulas in general or about how doulas work with dads specifically, please join us at the Doula Tea tomorrow! We’d love to have you and your partner attend, and you may bring your children if desired, as well.

~B.