Preamble: this post was originally titled “Doulas and Partners”, because I didn’t want to leave anyone out. But I had to change it to “Doulas and Dads” because it occurred to me that there are specific issues that arise between the differences between the sexes. Besides, female partners usually already understand the doula role without explanation. But anyway, if you’re a female partner of a mum-to-be, please know I’m thinking of you too, and please feel free to read this using your inner editor.
Wanna know why I love being a doula? It’s the love. That’s what it really comes down to. Love for mothers, love for babies, and love for families. But people are often unsure of the relationship between doulas and dads: “I don’t want a doula because I’m afraid my spouse will feel left out”. That’s something I hear so much and it breaks my damn heart! I think the reason why so many people think a doula will try to take the place of a partner is because, historically, birth has been a female-only event. Now, I think it’s important to give feminine energy some credit. Women are pretty effing good at soothing other women. We know female bodies in a way men never can and there is a marked difference between the vibe a roomful of women gives out, compared to one with the presence of even one man. It’s well documented that labour can actually stall with an unfamiliar man in the room.
But men have their place in the birthing room too. There’s a reason why dads were invited into labour and delivery rooms in the all-too-recent past: because they wanted to be there! Most dads want to support their partners and welcome their babies into the world. They want to be involved in birth. And as a doula, I think there’s nothing more beautiful than witnessing a new family be born and helping a dad be as involved as he can be. We’ve kind of swung from one extreme to the other in the birth room: a nurturing group of women, to a couple. Nowadays, we have the opportunity to build the best birth teams ever and we should all take advantage of that!
Birth is unpredictable, fascinating, intense, and emotional. If we look at it as scaling a mountain, we can see that it’s a lot easier to do with help. I’m your birth sherpa: I’ve been to births before and I carry a rough map of our destinations. Weather’s always different, so it might take longer or shorter to get to a certain spot, or you might decide that we need to take a different route. I work on carrying your shit so that you can stay focused on the experience. When you need a rest, I’m there to stand guard. You’re the explorers, I’m the little guy helping you do it and making you look like the superstars I really believe you are.
So, dear partners, I hope this blog post convinces you that the last thing a doula ever wants is to take your place. My job is done right when I hear “you helped bring us closer together” not “I couldn’t have done this without you”. Birth is about a lot of things, but at the very core of it is love. It’s my job to love families and find a way to encourage the love between partners to be expressed during birth, however that manifests.