Today, most Fathers want to participate in birth classes, prenatal visits and in the delivery suite. Sometimes expectations of his role as a “Labor Coach” may be difficult to fulfill and sometimes culturally it is inappropriate for expectant Fathers to be so intimately involved in the process of labor and birth.
The Father to be is expected to become familiar with the process and language of birth, to understand medical procedures and hospital protocols and advocate for his partner in an environment he is unfamiliar with.
A Doula can provide the information for the parents to make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication between the laboring woman, her partner and medical care providers.
A Father may react anxiously to the mother’s instinctive behavior to the normal process of birth. He may, understandably, become distressed to witness his partner in pain. The Doula can be reassuring and skillfully help a mother cope with labor pain in her unique way. The Father-to-be may need to accompany his partner to surgery should a cesarean become necessary. Not all Fathers can realistically be expected to “coach” during this intense level.
Many Fathers are eager to be involved during the labor and birth. Others, no less loving or committed to their partner’s well being, find it difficult to deal with unfamiliar situations. With a Doula, a Father can share in the birth at a level he feels most comfortable with. The Doula’s skills and knowledge can help him feel more relaxed. If the Father wants to provide physical comfort such as a back massage, change of positions, or to help his partner to stay focused during contractions, the Doula can help guide him by making suggestions for what might work best.
Childbirth is an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman’s personal well being. A Doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience throughout their lives. By ‘mothering the mother” during childbirth, the Doula supports the parents in having a positive and memorable birth experience.
The Father’s presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child, his need to nurture and protect his family, are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a Doula at her birth, a mother can have the best of both worlds; her partner’s loving care and attention and the Doula’s experience, expertise and guidance in childbirth.