In the lead-up to Father's Day this weekend, it's all about dads at Giving Birth with Confidence. Dads are an important part of the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum equation. But because so many resources, media, and information tend to be geared toward moms, dads often get overlooked and are sometimes left feeling under-prepared and fearful when it comes to attending their birth. Lamaze believes that the birth partner plays a critical role in the childbearing experience, and as such, we encourage moms and dads to attend childbirth classes and hire a doula. Quality childbirth education helps prepare a couple for the many choices available and the special support needed in labor, birth, and postpartum. A good doula helps facilitate that process. A doula does not, as some believe, replace a partner or dad, but rather enhance their role. In fact, most dads who hire a doula are enthusiastic about her support and presence at birth. More specifically, take a look at these five reasons dads love doulas.
1. Breathing easy. Hiring a doula provides dads with a huge sense of reassurance. Knowing someone else will be at their birth to provide continuous support -- physically, emotionally, and with information and resources -- can take lots of pressure off of a dad who may otherwise feel as though the world is on his shoulders to support and protect mom. Dad can breathe easy if he forgets about the special movements and coping techniques for back labor -- a doula's job is to step in with that knowledge and help guide dad to provide the best support and relief for mom.
2. Breaks. Moms in labor do better when they are continuously supported -- that means, no leaving her for 10 minutes to grab coffee. That said, birth can be long! Support persons need to eat, hyrdrate, and rest. A doula provides an extra set of hands and support to give dads the break they might need while mom remains 100% supported.
3. Confidence. Depending on how involved and hands-on a dad wishes to be during his birth (there is no wrong or right way), a doula can quietly and quickly assist dad in comforting and supporting mom the best way. Sometimes, placing hands just an inch lower can make all the difference during a contraction. And after the birth, mom will remember that dad knew just what to do during her labor.
4. Knowing the language. Dads can learn a lot about birth before it happens, but ultimately, it's like learning a new language. Both the physiological (natural, from the body) and medical side of birth bring with it lots of terminology and decision making points that are unfamiliar and confusing. While a doula will never make a medical decision for you, she can help you interpret information by providing resources and prompt you with questions to ask your care provider. Similarly, when something happens in labor and dad thinks, or asks aloud, for the umpteenth time, "What does this mean?!" the doula can speak up and let him know -- whether it's signs of transition, early labor patterns, water breaking, vomiting, etc.
5. Staying calm. Doulas help dads cope, too! While the birth scene is not usually as chaotic as Hollywood portrays, there are times when a dad can feel out of control or helpless. Because dad is emotionally involved with the experience, as well as required to be physically and mentally supportive, it can be difficult to remain calm in the face of the phyical and emotional intensity of birth. A doula helps provide the calm, cool, collected -- and objective -- presence that is needed to keep things in perspective.
What would you add to this list? Why did you love your doula? How did your doula help your partner?