Birth partners play a special role during the birth experience. A doula can never replace the love and caring that the birth partner provides during this special time. A doula gives the birth partner ideas about what comfort measures work best during different parts of labor and birth. A doula’s knowledge and experience can help the birth partner participate to his comfort level during the birth process. The doula and birth partner work as a team. Some of my most humbling moments are the times I see birth partners encouraging and supporting the mothers, whether they initiated it on their own or through suggestion and guidance, by holding them, kissing them, touching them, and offering positive and loving affirmations. It is the most amazing thing to see their love shine through during this most amazing event, and also to see how empowered the birth partner is by the support he gave the mother during labor, not to mention the love and adoration she feels toward her partner once the baby is born. When birth partners are supported by a doula, they say they feel more emotionally and physically involved with the birth of their child, rather than feeling left out.
Often times, labor and birth can be an anxious and even scary time for birth partners as they tread through uncharted waters. The comlexity of the partner’s role and the expectations given to them, vary greatly in our society and can be hard for partners to remain objective when they are so emotionally involved. Doulas can help to relieve any panic and anxiety so the birth partner is able to fully take in the birth and help the laboring mother to the best of his ability without feeling the pressure of having to know what to do through each stage of labor on his own. By having a doula present, it takes the pressure off and allows them to feel calmer, more confident and better able to provide the support the mother needs.
My job is to compliment the partner’s role and strenghten it by offering suggestions and encouraging him to participate in ways that feel comfortable to him and comforting for the mother during the birthing process. DONA states it best when they say, the love he shares with the mother and his child, his needs to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at 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.” Read more in Dads and Doulas: Key Players on Mother’s Labor Support Team.
A previous client asked me to share his story and his perspective as the birth partner in a birth where a doula provided support.
My wife, Alex, and I were pregnant with our first baby (Paul) for almost four months when she came home from a shopping trip with big news…she wanted to have a completely natural birth. No pain relief drugs, no drugs to speed labor—she would have this baby as women have for centuries. When we told our Dr. about our plan, she recommended we talk to a Doula she had worked with, Rhonda Huot.
I knew a little about Doulas from my fatherhood-preparedness reading, but not much. The role of the Doula was to help with the labor/birthing process, and that was about all I knew.
Rhonda came over to our house to meet with us, and I was immediately impressed with her friendly, easy-going personality. That first meeting, Rhonda wanted to find out what we thought her role might be, but she mostly wanted to get to know us a little. Through the following meetings, we became friends. Rhonda is very knowledgeable and was able to answer our questions without trying to sway our feelings about our birth plan. She led us through the process rather than persuading.
We learned the role of the Doula is not only to help mom through whatever birth plan she wants—whether totally natural or epidural assisted—but also to help dad help mom. By the end of our second meeting with Rhonda, I was feeling much more comfortable about the arrival of our son. I knew that Rhonda would be there to help Alex deal with the pain of labor and birth, and she would also guide me if and when I needed help.
Alex started labor at 11pm on a Sunday, and she was ready for me to call Rhonda by about 3am Monday. Her contractions were about 5 minutes apart. Rhonda got out of bed, got ready, and was at our house by about 5am. I cannot possibly describe how good it was to have Rhonda. The calming effect she had on Alex was immediately noticeable, and Alex being calmer made me more relaxed.
Throughout the next 30 hours (yeah, 30 hours no drugs) Rhonda was constantly by our sides, helping with anything we needed and providing comfort to us both. I was so happy to have her near during Alex’s labor. We had all the birthing classes and read a bunch of books, but, when the time came, I admit to being mostly a little lost and concerned for my wife. It was hard to watch her have contractions and be in pain, knowing all I could do was hold and comfort her. Rhonda comforted Alex with her experienced and thoughtful words, reminding her throughout that everything was natural and, most importantly, OK. What I had not anticipated was how much having her there comforted me, as well.
As it turned out, the baby was too big and was delivered by Cesarean. Rhonda stood by and helped us talk to the doctors and make this difficult decision. More importantly, she was there afterwards to help Alex get started nursing.
Rhonda continues to help us. Alex often calls with questions about feeding or Paul’s general well-being. As an experienced mother and Doula, Rhonda is the calming voice for Alex, even when her answers are the same as mine.
I would recommend Rhonda to anyone getting ready to have a baby. I never felt she was in the way, or taking me out of my role as father and husband. Quite the opposite, I think we both would have felt a little lost without her. For our next child, we both want a Doula. If Rhonda is around, she has first dibs for sure!
– Justin Novak