“As a first-time dad, I was very unsure what to expect during labor. Having a doula gave me a support system to better assist my wife before, during, and after delivery. Our doula (Katie) was knowledgeable, supporting, caring, and patient. Our sessions before delivery were educational and prepared us for the physical process of having a baby. Her guidance and help during delivery made a long, arduous process more manageable. I cannot imagine going through the process of having a child without the help of a doula.” –Matt R., Johnston, IA
When I first started working as a doula a few years ago, I was excited to be able to help serve women during the birth of their children. I imagined supporting mothers through massage, reassuring her that she was doing wonderfully, helping her navigate the medical world, and holding squishy new babies. I knew that doula-attended births decreased labor time, decreased the chance of needing vacuum/forcep/cesarean deliveries, and improved bonding & breastfeeding experience with the newborn. While these support measures are a valuable part of being a doula, it’s just a bit of how I’ve been professionally trained to serve families.
The biggest surprise I encountered was working with the dads. I never realized how important doulas were for the fathers/partners that we work with. I thought I’d share with you the Top 3 Ways that adding a doula to your birth team can help everyone during the birth of your baby.
1. Informational Support:
Did you take a childbirth class? Many dads who take classes often feel the pressure to “remember it all” and focus on trying to do the right thing at the right time. Doulas are walking, talking childbirth manuals. Need a position idea? Ask your doula. Need a comfort suggestion? Ask your doula. We give encouragement and ideas to dads during pregnancy, labor, and after the baby arrives.
For dads that didn’t take a childbirth class, having a doula guide them in supporting the mom is priceless. Doulas provide “on the job” training when needed. We encourage them to be as active of a participant as they want to be.
I also teach my clients Informed Consent/ Informed Denial so that parents don’t have to learn everything about every possible drug or procedure; rather they learn how to ask the right questions to get the information they need.
2. Emotional Support:
Dads are put under a lot of pressure to say the right thing, comfort their wife the right way, stay awake for hours of labor, and physically support their partner from start to finish. Dads rely on nurses and doctors only to find that those professionals are taking care of other patients too. This can be emotionally exhausting for dads. Doulas provide a sounding board for ideas, encourage ways for families to communicate about birth/newborns, and support the dad during this transition time in their lives.
Dads are not immune to post partum depression, stress, and emotional strains. Birth is a much different process for dads and they process this change in different ways. Doulas are trained to help dads through this time too.
3. Physical Support:
What happens when a woman’s labor is really long? Doulas can offer dads a break while the laboring mom receives continuous labor support. What happens when dad’s hands are too tired to rub her shoulders any longer? Doulas can help out. What if Dad needs to get something to eat? Doulas are there to help mom with her labor as dads get the chance to re-energize.
Overall, doulas are there to support both the mom and dad, the newborn, and sometimes even older siblings too! Many people don’t realize that doulas offer support throughout the entire pregnancy, join the family during the labor, stay with them after the birth, and will even help provide breastfeeding and postpartum support after the baby arrives too. Families enjoy having one familiar, unbiased person on their birth team that is their advocate and whose primary goal is make sure the birth experience is wonderful for all involved—whatever that experience may end up being!
Guest post provided by: Katie Nyberg – Katie is an Internationally Certified DONA Birth Doula serving mothers in the Des Moines area, Ames, and Central Iowa. She has attended over 35 births for families desiring both hospital and home births. Katie is a state-licensed educator and enjoys teaching families about healthy birth options through local workshops she hosts. She is an active member of the Central Iowa Doula Association and works part-time at Waukee Wellness & Chiropractic for her husband’s business. She loves spending time with her two boys, husband, and labradoodle. Find out more about Katie at: www.katiedoula.com & www.facebook.com/katiesdoulacare.