Many partners worry that hiring a doula will make them feel left out of the birthing process. They understand their role as that of the caring supporter and feel as though a doula might take that away from them or put them at arms’ length from their partner while she is in labour.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. As one of my clients’ partners once said to me following the beautiful birth of their daughter,
“There were so many moments when I know I would have felt anxious or worried, but seeing how confident and relaxed you were helped me to understand that everything was normal and that there was nothing to worry about. I was able to just follow your lead and focus on helping (her) through each contraction.”
In addition to serving birthing women, I make it a priority in my doula practice to get to know partners and to make sure that their anxieties and concerns, their priorities and preferences and their hopes and wishes are heard and responded to. After all, they are just as emotionally invested in the birth of this child as the woman giving birth is. While the birthing woman is the one whose body will undergo the changes of pregnancy and experience the sensations of labour and birth, the partner also has unique challenges to deal with as he or she supports her. It is not easy to watch as your partner, your closest friend and beloved companion copes with the physical pain of contractions, the exhaustion of a long second stage, the emotional turmoil of transition or the exertion of pushing the baby out. In addition, there may be fears about the health and safety of the baby adding stress and worry to an already challenging situation. When you further consider that on top of all of those pressures and stressors, that partner is expected to be calm, confident and supportive in a context with which he or she likely has little or no previous experience and which can be confusing and overwhelming, you begin to understand what a tall order it is for the partner who wants to support his or her partner during labour and birth.