Here are some ways a doula is invaluable to the birthing couple:
1. Doulas help partners know what is ‘normal’ in labor.
For first-time parents, everything about birth is new. Even if the mother is going through birth for the 2nd or 3rd time, no two births look exactly the same. The journey is full of unknowns and this can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. A doula will be the calming presence in the room that the partner can look to and hear her say, “that shaking: totally normal!” Even in the midst of the intensity, the doula can help the partner see that the behavior of the laboring woman is normal by saying, “look how powerful she is!” This is where our doulas help guide the parents through labor. Easing the fears of the partner will greatly improve the atmosphere for the mother. If she knows her partner is not afraid, she can fully emerge herself in her birth.
2. Doulas help remind partners of the variety of coping skills and comfort measures that they learned in childbirth class.
Even if the partner took a childbirth class and learned many comfort techniques and skills, it can be so overwhelming to see their loved one go through the intensity of labor, which makes it more challenging to recall the details of the childbirth class. Our doulas can offer coping methods, massage techniques, and have for a vast repertoire of tips for helping mom relax and allow birth to happen. This frees the partner from the pressure of remembering everything. In many instances, having two sets of hands is helpful- the doula may be giving the mother counter pressure on her back while the partner places a wash cloth on her forehead and gives her verbal affirmation. A doula makes the partner look good! However involved the partner wants to be in labor, the doula can help them do that.
3. Doulas know the language of birth and can help the parents understand all the choices available.
While doulas do not speak on behalf of the family, they can help families recall their wished for birth and what they indicated in their birth plan. There are times the medical staff may walk in the room, look at the monitor, and walk out without saying anything. Although we do not diagnose the situation, we can explain what the nurse is looking at and how to read the monitor. In the midst of labor, you may be faces with many choices for your care; for example, having your care provider break your water to speed up labor. There are benefits and risks to any procedure and a doula can help the partner and mother remember to ask their care provider all the questions they need to in order to make the best choice for them. Doulas give unbiased support and act as a sounding board in the birth room to help process all the crossroads of labor.
4. Doulas can give partners a break.
Birth can last a long time- hours or even days! It can be a lot to ask for one person to be the sole source of support during labor. A doula can help the partner by grabbing them food or coffee or allowing them to take short break or nap. Even if the partner needs to step out, the doula will be there to provide continuous support for mom. Our doulas prioritize the partner, making sure they stay nourished and rested through the process.
5. Doulas can ‘doula’ the whole family.
Sometimes partners need help ‘doula-ing’ the grandparents. Anxious and excited grandparents, especially if they are in unfamiliar territory- tend to pace the floor outside of the delivery room itching to get inside. Doulas can help facilitate a quick hello if that is what the mother wants, or they can communicate or send updates to the waiting family outside. Many family members will thank our doulas for helping them understand and for giving updates during labor. This helps the partner be 100% present during labor without having to give updates every hour.
A doula’s job includes nurturing, supporting, and encouraging partners, just as she does for mothers in labor. The partners are experiencing great changes during this process as well. We want both parents to feel good about their choices, all choices! It’s our desire for them to feel like a team, united and bonded by the incredible adventure they just had! It’s a strong way to build the foundation for the next big season of parenthood.
At Nashville Doula Services, we support the whole family!