In our last post, we talked about how doulas help a birth person, so today we need to look how doulas help partners.
You are building your birth team as you read this. You researched the doctors, the nurses, and the hospital. You hired the best doula. You thought about your birth preferences. But how does your partner fit into this equation and how does he or she remain attentive to your needs while also still supporting him or herself?
1. Doulas give guidance to partners about how to support the birthing person.
Partners sometimes need guidance when it comes to how to physically and emotionally support another person, especially loved ones. It can be really challenging to know how to help someone while they are in pain. Our doulas teach both the birthing person and partner comfort measures in the second prenatal appointment to ensure the partner can be actively involved and have the confidence to know he or she is helping. Furthermore, doulas give a visual guide of how to be present in the birthing space while not taking the attention away from the birthing person which can be invaluable for partners to witness and implement. As an added bonus, these comfort measures are not unique to birth, so they can be used during other stressful situations.
2. Doulas keep the family updated with progress.
Doulas are experts in the field of childbirth, and able to confirm when something is normal. This can be very helpful for new parents who have not witnessed a birth before. Your doula is able to answer any questions you and your partner may have during the birth. Partners really benefit from having this third party relay information to them. (Kayne et al.)
3. Doulas allow partners to take breaks and not feel guilty
Birth is long! Partners need to be able to step out of the room for a minute to gather his or her thoughts, grab a snack, take bathroom break, or get a cup of coffee (with an extra shot of espresso sometimes!). As the support person for the birthing person, one can feel guilty about caring for his or her needs rather than providing that support. With a doula present, a partner can step out of the room for some much needed self-care and know that the birthing person is not going to be alone.
4. Doulas support the birthing person physical when a partner may not be available to
Studies have shown that male partners, in particular, tend to retreat as labor intensify, and furthermore “the father touches the mother less and spends an increased amount of time out of the room” (Kayne et al., 698). However, when a doula is present, she is able to keep a continuous physical presence for the birthing person, as well as verbal and physical affirmations to fathers or partners as labor progresses.
5. Doulas provide support for the partners
It can be really challenging to watch someone you love struggle with the pain associated with birth. Doulas can support partners as he or she watches the birth, and help understand what emotions are being brought up as a result of seeing the birthing person go through labor and delivery. Furthermore, just as birthing person benefits from the continuous support of a doula, partners really appreciate having that support.