So many times as a doula I’ve heard “I think we really need a doula and my husband doesn’t care either way” or sometimes “he’s not really on board yet” or “he’s not sure how you could help us if things go wrong”. As doulas, it’s important for our clients to know that we are not their partners. I am not your care provider or your partner but I can support both in so many ways!
In prenatal visits with my clients, I like to get to know the partner just as much as the birthing person. I want to know what their goals, fears and desires are for the birth just as much as the birthing person because they are equally important and only help me better support everyone in the birthing room. Whether the partner wants to be 100% physically involved or needs to do more emotional supporting, I help the partner prepare to do those things and support them throughout.
So why do partners love doulas? Here’s a list to name a few:
1. DOULAS SPEAK BIRTHY.
As parents, we go through all the classes and steps to prepare for birth. Getting into the birth room and watching our significant other go through labor can sometimes make that knowledge blurry. Doulas help partners speak “birthy”! When a care provider comes in the room and starts asking questions or using terms that you may not be familiar with, a doula can help you decipher the medical jargon quickly in order to better make your decisions.
2. DOULAS KNOW ABOUT ALL THE BEST HOSPITAL GOODIES FOR BIRTH.
Doulas are great at grabbing ice chips, drinks, extra pillows, birth balls and more from all the nooks and crannies of a hospital – all while the partner and birthing person are focusing on the birth process. While birthing is unfolding in the birth room, a doula is getting access to the locked snack room at the hospital, or grabbing extra drinks from the home birth kitchen. Doulas know what to get and from where, so partners can stay focused on more important things.
3. DOULAS GIVE PARTNERS CONFIDENCE.
In my second prenatal with my clients, I go over comfort measures and exercises. I use this not only as an exercise to educate my clients, but as a prenatal bonding exercise. I teach the partners how to do counter pressure, rebozo techniques and more. A doula should help the partner(s) be educated and confident in the birthing room and throughout the pregnancy. During birth when the birthing person is asking for help, I like to rotate with the partner. Sometimes I’ll have the partner whispering to the birthing person and encouraging them with words while I’m doing rounds of hip squeezes. Then we switch and I remind the partner how to do something that’s going to be super beneficial to their significant other.
4. DOULAS HOLD SPACE FOR PARTNERS TOO.
The birth room can become very overwhelming, especially for first-time parents or parents with previous birth traumas/loss. When there’s a lot happening in the room, a doula can save space for the partner to take a break. This gives the partner a moment to breathe, think, regroup, go to the bathroom, and in some lengthy birth cases, take a nap. I was once at a 54-hour home birth where myself and the entire birth team refused to leave the birthing family because of the support we saw they needed. So we all took turns between the homebirth midwife and assistant, myself as the doula, the mother, the sister and the husband – we ALL took turns providing space and getting rest where we all needed it. A doula holds space for partners.
5. DOULAS CAN HELP GET BETTER RESULTS.
In 2011, a study of over 15,000 women resulted in various findings related to doula supported care including that the birthing persons were less likely to have a cesarean birth, less likely to use synthetic oxytocin, less likely to use pain medication, less likely to have negative birth experiences and more. Doula provide a support that they are trained to give both the birthing person and the partner and that support has proven to result in less procedures. Of course a doula cannot guarantee any outcome in birth, so when special circumstances to arise, doulas are still there to support the partner through whatever that navigation looks like.
So if you are the partner and your significant other is pregnant and considering a doula, take steps to interview one! Go to the interview together. Ask questions (check out my blog post on what to ask). Ask what a doula can do for BOTH of you. A doula is not a birth accessory or add-on service. A doula is a necessity, a support figure that every birthing person deserves.
Are you a partner that hired a doula? What was the most beneficial thing your doula did for you? Can you think of anything else we could add to this great list?