* Throughout this blog we will be referring to the “birth partner” as the main support person. Traditionally, support persons are often assumed to be the dad. We fully recognize that although dads can be the main support person, not all families look the same and that some families may not include a dad. This blog is intended to show the ways in which doulas benefit all support persons, such as your life partner, mother/mother-in-law, sister, best friend, etc.
A longstanding belief in the birth community is that doulas are solely for the birthing parent. While the birthing person definitely benefits from having a doula, their only focus is not on them. Doulas are focused on supporting the birth team as a whole.
It’s important for your main support person to be able to fully show up for you, since they bring a level of intimacy and knowledge of you that your doula may not have. Watching you work through the sensations and emotions of birth can be difficult for someone so close to you.
This is where a doula can step in to help your birth partner navigate the birthing process. Here are my favorite ways a doula can support your birth partner:
1. Education on effective support
For many support persons, it is their first time attending a birth. Although they might be experts on YOU, they are not experts on supporting during the birth process like a doula is.
Your doula can teach your birth partner techniques and coping strategies so they can be the hero during your birth. Your partner can learn how to do hip squeezes and counter pressure like a pro!
2. Allowing them to get a break
Birth can, and often is, a long journey. Some births can last days. Undoubtedly, this is tiring for you, but it can also be exhausting for your birth team.
At some point, your partner may need to step away for a catnap, to get a quick bite to eat, or use the bathroom. This is where your doula can step in so that you are never left unsupported. Your partner comes back refreshed and better able to give you what you need.
3. Offering emotional support
It’s not often discussed that birth partners need emotional support, too. As mentioned above, birth can be a trying and transformative experience for everyone involved.
It can be difficult for your partner to see you in such a raw and vulnerable state. Their first instinct is to come to your rescue. Doulas are masters at reassuring partners that mom is doing great, and so are they. They can also help your partner process emotions when things expectantly happen.
4. Assuring that everything is okay when it is
Many parents are unsure of what is normal during birth. Society has created an unrealistic view of how birth works, so partners don’t always know if progress is being made as it should be.
Doulas are there to let you know that labor is progressing just as it should be, and most importantly, that you don’t need to worry. They’re in good hands.
5. Handling all the little things
It’s hard to picture all of the tasks that need to be handled during labor and birth unless you’ve experienced it. There are little things like refilling water bottles, getting a cup of ice, covering her toes with the blanket, getting snacks, letting the dog out, making meals, getting the padsicles and attending to older children that will need to be done throughout labor and after birth.
Instead of your birth partner needing to leave you to do this, your doula can handle these. They act as your “man behind the curtain” to keep everything running smoothly so your birth experience can remain undisturbed.