What is it that the doula do?

Simply put a birth doula is professional labor coach. A doula attends the mother during her labor and delivery, offering emotional and physical support. She has specialized training and experience with the entire labor and delivery process (natural and medicalized), and is devoted to serving new mothers and their families to achieve the birth experience they desire.

We promise we will NOT replace you.

Your doula is not interested in replacing you in the delivery room. Your partner is going to need reassurance, comfort, and love from you to make it through her labor and delivery and the doula’s job is to step aside and help you do what you do best; being there for her when she needs you. Your doula will be your guide, and like a good jock strap she is going to provide you with enough support to get you through this! She may take the lead for a bit now and again when she sees you need a break or are unsure what to do, but a large part of her role is to show you what to do and how to do it so that your partner remembers how amazing you were in helping her have an incredible birth.

We’re like the “Phone A Friend” option, only better.

We all know you have been there for your partner the past nine months, helping her rub coco butter on her swelling belly and massaging her aching feet. We know you went with her and cringed through watching that infamous video; the grainy one that has emotionally scarred so many men in childbirth ed classes across the nation. You’ve also likely read every book on pregnancy and childbirth and babies that your wife handed to you over the past year in preparation for this very moment, so when those first contractions hit and you instantly forget everything we promise we will not judge you. Your doula is going to be right there by your side gently reminding you about how to time contractions, what it means when a care provider murmurs your wife is “at 0 station and 60% effaced”, that it is in fact normal for an incredible amount of fluid to gush out when the sac finally ruptures, and will calmly guide you over to help “hold a leg” when the moment of truth arrives.

Here’s your hall pass.

The one thing expecting fathers tend to appreciate most about their doula is the fact that they can take breaks during their partner’s labor. Having a doula allows you to be able to go to the bathroom, take a quick nap, go grab a bite to eat, or simply take a break from the excitement in those long hours leading up to delivery. A doula also offers peace of mind to those who like to have a plan laid out if there is an emergency – fathers can safely and guilt-free leave their partners in the trusted care of their doula while they are able to go with the baby after delivery if an issue arises.

We’ll hold your hand, too.

It may seem like all the focus is on your partner (because it is), but your doula is aware that you are going through a big life event as well. Don’t be shy about letting her know if you have any concerns about what’s going on in the labor and delivery room. She understands what you’re going through and will be happy to help make sure your are getting the same answers and reassurance your partner needs to make informed choices during her labor. Your doula is also acutely aware that not every guy is going to be able to put on a brave face through all of the more graphic parts of the labor process. It isn’t easy to suddenly see the person you love most in this world go through what can only be described as one of the hardest (but also one of the most incredible) things of her life. Your doula is there to help reassure you that even though things may look and feel scary, it is all part of the normal birth process.

We will not burn sage or start a drum circle in the delivery room (unless you ask us to).

While TV and social media have pegged doulas as all being the stereotypical New Age Flakes, most of us are actually pretty “normal” individuals. Just like everyone else, doulas come from various backgrounds and have differing life-styles and values. It is true almost all birth workers (individuals who work within the birth community) tend to have a more holistic and natural approach to things but the beauty of a doula is that she sets all of her personal beliefs aside and supports her clients choices and decisions 100%. Hiring a doula does not mean you suddenly need to start drinking home-made kombucha and listen to Peruvian pan-flutes set to whale song during your morning commute to work, it simply ensures you have someone devoted to making sure your and your partner’s wishes are honored as you bring your child into the world.

The buck stops here.

Your doula works for you and you only. She does not answer to your care provider, nor is she an employee at the hospital or birth center who has to adhere to their rules. Her sole focus is on your partner and you. This is important as it allows your partner to know without a doubt that your doula is there supporting and honoring her wishes no matter what. You can trust that your doula will give you honest, open answers regarding care options and will always list the pros and cons of any intervention offered. She will not become frustrated with your questions and will not judge any decision made. Your doula has made a commitment to your partner (and to you) that she will honor and respect your preferences, provider suggestions and hospital policies be damned.

Article written by Meagan Flaherty, of Beltane Birth Services.

Doula Meagan Flaherty
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