When visiting couples for their prenatal visits, I always ask that the father be present, if possible at the meetings. It is very essential that the father gets to know me as their doula beforehand and not just at the birth. Dads are very important in the labor and birth process and it is my job as a doula to understand what role he desires and where I fit into this dynamic. There is no right or wrong answer to the question regarding the level of involvement he desires to have. Some fathers may have different views of birth pertaining to culture, upbringing or what they feel comfortable about in the laboring and birthing process taking place as a homebirth or in the hospital. It is my responsibility to act professionally and respectively in the desires of the couple that has hired me.
Dads are very important to the labor and birthing process. A laboring woman needs the support of her partner if the relationship is a positive and supportive relationship in her life. Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced during labor that assists in the labor process. The hormone will bring on contractions and if favorable will produce more and more contractions progressing labor to the birth of the baby. Oxytocin is increased at transition to help with the pushing process. As a father engages in supportive communication of the laboring mother, her oxytocin levels will increase. As a doula, having the father involved only aids and makes my job successful! This is one of the reasons why dads are so important to me!
A doula is the ancient greek term used for “female slave”. It is important to note that a “slave” works for her “master”, taking directions from her and her partner as a unit. I find my work as a doula to be very fluid. I can easily assess when I am needed and when I am not. A large portion of labor may include that I give her and her partner space for her to produce those lovely hormones of oxytocin! I am certainly all for it!
Dads need care too during labor and birth. Some dads may have an overwhelming amount of stress when seeing his partner in pain. As a doula, aiding the couple in strategic positions that might be beneficial to helping labor progress may be needed. Using acupressure points that I am certified to suggest may be helpful while including the father can only aid the mother to feel more safe and supported by him. Doulas tend to have lots of tricks in their bags to get the couple engaged in a positive way that only benefits the birth of their baby.
It is also really important to add that most likely not all fathers may know the progression of birth that a doula is educated in. Having labor and birth experience professionally and personally, she can add her womanly wisdom to the laboring woman unlike a male perspective may have. Women and men think differently, that is biologically true, a doula can help a father understand what she is feeling and assist him to help her feel more comfortable and supported by making suggestions and encouraging him to interact with her.
In my own personal experience, I have an awesome husband that is the best birth coach ever! He has helped me through the birth of my six children, and the process was never easy. After my first child, I felt that I needed a doula the second time around. I had gone into my first birth wanting a natural birth but in the 12th hour I needed an epidural for the pain. As a first time mom, my husband was a great support but I saw how I really needed the support from a woman that knows the labor progression including being an advocate for my patient rights as well as educating me in the effects to me and my baby of the medical interventions that are available if I chose. Having a doula’s assistance would have helped me in a tremendous way while my husband was still my primary birth coach.
Professionally, I love to assist in nurturing the father and laboring mother during this intimate and sacred time in their lives. I take this role very seriously. I have been the one behind the scenes helping fill the birth tub with hot water, getting cold water for the mother and the father, helping the mother change positions and holding her hand while the father needed a sandwich break after a very long laboring period. A doula’s role is ever changing and never concrete, it depends on what is needed and most beneficial at the moment for the couple! A doula can be a great asset in labor and birth to the mother AND father!