For any first time fathers, there are many questions and fears. I know I had my share. When my wife mentioned hiring a doula, it’s clear what my first question was. After understanding a doula’s role, I thought it was mostly for the soon to be mother; was I ever wrong! Before, during and after labor the challenges we faced as a couple were not only eased, but solved. The help and support made my experience less worrisome. Diksha’s expertise made my wife’s experience planned out and alleviated unforeseen problems. If my wife and I decided to have another child, we would not be without Diksha. ~Kelly
When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting, today's father wants to share everything with his partner. He wants to be actively involved, ease his partner's labor pain, welcome his baby at the moment of birth, and help care for his newborn at home. A labor doula can help a father experience this special time with confidence. Studies show that when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies. Recent evidence also suggests that when a doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience, and the mother-infant interaction is enhanced for as long as two months after the birth. Also, with doula support, fathers tend to stay more involved with their partners, and not pull away in times of stress.
Today, a father's participation in birth preparation classes and his presence at prenatal visits and in the delivery suite are familiar occurrence. Yet, we sometimes forget that the expectations of his role as a "labor coach" may be difficult to fulfill. Sometimes it is also culturally inappropriate for an expectant father to be so intimately involved in the process of labor and birth.
The father-to-be is expected, among other things, to become familiar with the process and language of birth, to understand medical procedures and hospital protocols, and advocate for his partner in an environment and culture he is usually unfamiliar with. A doula can provide the information to help parents make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication among the laboring woman, her partner, and medical care providers. At times a father may not understand a woman's instinctive behavior during childbirth and may react anxiously to what a doula knows to be the normal process of birth. He may witness his partner in pain and understandably become distressed. The doula can be a reassuring presence. The father-to-be may need to accompany his partner during surgery, should a cesarean become necessary. Not all fathers can realistically be expected to "coach" at this intense level.
Many fathers are eager to be involved during labor and birth. Others, no less loving or committed to their partner's well-being, find it difficult to navigate in uncharted waters. With a doula, a father can share in the birth at a level he feels most comfortable. The doula's skills and knowledge can help him feel more relaxed. If the father wants to provide such comforts as back massage and helping his partner stay focused during contractions, the doula can guide and make suggestions for what may work best.
Physicians, midwives, and nurses are responsible for monitoring labor, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby, and treating complications when they arise. But childbirth is also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman's personal well-being. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience throughout their lives. By "mothering the mother" during childbirth, the doula supports the parents in having a positive birth experience. The father's presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child; and his need to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at her birth, a mother can have the best of both worlds: her partner's loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance in childbirth.
Editorial provided by DONA®, Doulas of North America