Dads….some of our families have them, some don’t. For those families who do have a Dad in the picture, we often see concern about how our role as doulas will impact their role during the birth process. We love getting this question, because it allows us to highlight just how much work we put into helping Dad and how our role truly enhances him. Let’s look a little deeper into this:
How does a doula help a father? Most of the men we have encountered are absolutely thrilled to be a part of their partner’s pregnancy/labor and the birth of their child. They want to be involved as much as possible, and to understand what’s happening so they can assist in the process. Their main focus is almost always on seeing their partner and baby safely through the journey, which is only natural. Because they desire safety, it can be difficult to watch their loved one go through pain, or what might appear to be suffering. It can be scary to see the more intense parts of the labor process, especially if someone has never seen birth before. We remind Dad that what is happening is normal, and help him find ways to support his partner.
Another important, yet often overlooked, aspect of helping a father is encouraging him to take breaks, eat, and drink. We see a lot of partners deeply devoted to their significant other, which is beautiful and appreciated. However, when birth runs more than a few hours (which is the norm), basic body functions need to be observed! We remind him that it’s okay to step away for a minute or two to use the bathroom and that we will stay right by his partner’s side. When we offer mom a drink, we ask him if he needs one as well. Same with snacks. These may seem small and insignificant, but we know that once the adrenaline of birth wears off…he’ll be thankful he took care of himself too!
The final help we give fathers is the ability to be vulnerable during this special time and know that it’s okay. We often say…”all you have to do is love her, in the way that only you can.” This can free him from the feeling of needing to be coach as well as father and partner.
How does a doula enhance the father’s role during birth? This starts during our prenatal visits, where we talk about how important he is to the entire process, how his support (in whatever way feels most authentic to him) is vital to his partner, and how this is his birth too. During labor and birth, our goal is to support the couple in their unique relationship. Often, we can be found doing the famous hip-squeeze while dad is holding his partner and whispering sweet words into her ear. During a particularly intense contraction, she might make a noise that sounds scary to him…upon which he looks at the doula, who in return smiles and nods a signal “she is okay, this is normal”.
We work to take the pressure off Dad so he can be in the moment with his beloved partner, experience the process with her instead of having to play coach, and be supported in his needs as well. We firmly believe that birth is a family event and keep this in the forefront of our doula minds when working with a couple. We strive to help fathers discover their treasured role during this time, and encourage them to participate at the level they’re comfortable.
Birth isn’t just about babies…it’s also about mothers and fathers.
At Summer Birth Services, we honor the unique and important role of fathers in their partner’s and baby’s world. We work with your whole family to provide the best team of support for you.