You and your partner made this baby. You went to prenatal appointments together. You went to childbirth classes together. You talked about how you envision this birth, this baby, diapers and discipline. You are in it to win it and you make a great team. So, why should consider hiring a doula? Is it necessary?
From the many dads I have worked with, the answer is a resounding "yes". It has been my experience that dads, at first, are a bit skeptical of the doula's role. After all, he is an exciting and willing participant in this birth! He wants to be there - to see it, to help support and sooth his lady. He does not want his right to be fully involved to be diminished in any way. Then, maybe the mama learns about doulas, it is suggested in a birth class or she has a high level of anxiety about what labor will be like. They call me and I offer them a "meet and greet" appointment.
After that first conversation, dad is on board with hiring a doula! It is not uncommon for dads to overstate their level of confidence for the mama's sake. Without exception, every dad I have worked with has been amazing and intuitive throughout labor! But when the conversation gets real about what the parents want at their birth, the dad often confesses to wanting the support, guidance and backup of a doula (just as a mother wants guidance and support). They are reassured that someone will be there to help remember all those medical terms, stages of labor, comfort measures and positions they learned about it childbirth class. They heave a sigh of relief to know someone will be their constant companion and, if labor becomes long and challenging, they will not be alone.
I usually joke with dads, "Think of me as your birth stewardess! I will do my best help you understand what is happening and what may be helpful. I try to make sure everyone is as calm, confident and comfortable as possible. I offer sips of water, apply counter pressure to mama's back while she holds your hands, hold the puke bucket, go on food runs, whisper encouragement, suggest new positions, walk the halls with mama so you can take a 10 minute catnap, snap a few pictures, give a big smile and thumbs up as she progresses and support both of you fully in your birth journey." It does sound slightly hokey, I admit. However, it paints a clear picture to parents that a doula takes on some practical responsibility so dads can put their total focus and attention on where it belongs: the laboring mom and new baby!
Of course, it is always worth mentioning that hiring an experienced doula has some very tangible benefits for laboring moms. And, dads always want the best scenario for their partners. Having a doula present has been shown to increase and decrease certain things in labor. (Check out my "What does a doula do?" page above for details) The day of your baby's birth will be one of the most important days of your life. It makes sense to most dads to try to optimize that experience by hiring a doula.
I would like to bust two common myths I often encounter that trouble some dads: Money and Drugs!
First . . . drugs! It is not a doula's job to convince one way or another about the use of pain medication in labor. I often meet clients who plan to use (or are open to use) pain medication at some point in their labor. My priority is to help you follow your plan and get you the information you need to make an educated choice. A doula is not there to judge you or bully you into following any agenda. The only acceptable agenda for a doula is "a healthy and happy family", in whatever way that may come about.
Second . . . money! A common concern for most dads is, "How am I going to afford all this baby/birth stuff"? But, let me remind you that the birth of your baby is a once in a lifetime event! A trained and experienced doula has spent years studying birth and hundreds of hours supporting birthing families. I estimate I spend (on average) over 35 hours with the couples I work with. This includes several prenatal appointments, the labor and birth, the immediate postpartum in the hospital and two postpartum visits at home. That is a lot of personalized attention! And, the only person on your birth team who can give you that amount of special focus and support is a doula. Worth every penny! (And, doulas often work with parents on a sliding scale or with payment plans, they also accept "tips" for exceptional service.)
The best way to find out more about doulas is to talk to one. So, call a few doulas and ask for a "meet and greet" appointment. Ask them lots of questions. Pay attention to how she interacts with each partner. Find out if you can talk to a previous client of theirs. Your birth experience is worth a few phone calls to find the support and expertise you need.
You will be glad you did.