When a mom brings up wanting to hire a doula for her birth, her partner may be a little skeptical. Is this person replacing me? What can she do that I can’t? Does my partner not think I can handle this? Guess what- it’s none of those! Your doula would be a member of your team! She doesn’t replace you. Your partner has all the confidence in you. Your doula, your OB or midwife, the nurses, and you are all part of mom’s birth team! You all work together to help mom have a beautiful birth experience. So how can a doula and you work together?
- Your doula teaches you and mom together.
She teaches you about your options during labor, birth, and postpartum recovery, comfort techniques, how labor and birth works (like timing those contractions), and breastfeeding.
- You don’t have to stress about remembering everything your doula has taught you!
Your doula can give you all the tools in the book to help support mom, but you don’t have to worry about remembering them all! During labor and birth, your doula can give you gentle reminders of what may work at different times and when to change positions or techniques.
- Your doula provides YOU with emotional support.
It can be hard watching your loved one be in pain and not be able to do anything about it. Your fears and worries can carry over to mom, which can make her worried, which can slow down the progress of labor. One of the doula’s jobs is to explain what is normal during labor (such as feeling like giving up, crying, and shaking during transition), give you encouragement, and to give suggestions how you can help during difficult moments.
- Your doula provides YOU with physical support.
Your doula will make sure that not only is mom taken care of, but you as well. You are important in this moment as well. She will make sure you are staying hydrated, eating, getting coffee or tea when necessary, and making up a bed so you can sleep (especially during those long inductions).
- You and your doula tag team taking care of mom.
This is done in so many different ways. You both only have two hands, so while one is giving a massage, the other is giving her a drink of water or a cool washcloth. Ideally, the doula would be providing comfort measures from behind (massaging the back, counter-pressure, etc) while the partner is in front, making eye contact, softly giving encouragement, using some techniques on the front. Why is this? Because YOU give mom the good feelings your doula can’t. These good feelings release ocytocin, which helps labor progress.
If you need a break, you can feel confident mom is in good hands and not alone as your doula stays with her.
If you want to focus on the birth as it happens rather than playing an active role in mom’s comfort support- that’s fine! You can be in the moment giving mom encouragement and focus on the arrival of your beautiful baby while your doula focuses on mom.
If you want to be the primary person to support mom physically and emotionally, that’s great too! Your doula can give suggestions, run errands such as getting more ice chips, and offer encouragement. She can stay in the room the whole time or she can check in, give suggestions, and step out for a short time, then return to check in- giving you two as much one-on-one time as possible without being “alone”.
A wise doula once explained it as comparing a birth doula to an athletic coach:
“You’ve SEEN football be played. You’ve SEEN basketball be played. But there is always a coach there to help guide you along the way. I’m the birth coach. Most physically strenuous activities have a coach or trainer and doulas happen to be that for birth.” – Tanasha Smith