Now that the sensible decision to trust your ‘to-be bundle of joy’ to midwives has been clearly decided, the looming decision to employ a Doula still remains. Since this is my story, let me begin where I began – What the heck is a Doula? That’s a silly name and I’m quite sure I don’t need one of those! So, to Google I went and learned this from Merriam Webster: “A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support and physical comfort to a mother before, during and just after childbirth”. Sounds fairly legit, but this is going to cost me money, so let me take a closer look at this definition to see if it’s worth the money that is being asked for a silly-named service.
Firstly – experienced in childbirth: Well I cut the umbilical cord of my first two kids. That makes me experienced, I think… maybe not. I really don’t remember much more than that about the previous pregnancies. Perhaps this is not a role I can call myself accomplished in.
Secondly – advice: In the back of my head, as I picture myself in the situation, all I can hear myself able to utter is “you’re doing great Babe – get that baby out!” But, actual advice?? Well, I really don’t think I have any…
Thirdly – information: “Well, she’s been reading that ‘What to expect…’ book. Surely that has all the information that she could possibly need. After all, it’s like over 50 pages long! If this is the case, you need a Doula sooner than you think. The wealth of information that comes with the Doula is priceless and will never be found in the pages of any New York bestselling book.
Lastly – emotional support and physical comfort: I’ve grouped these two together (even though they can be justified separately) as they are closely related. Do you know what to say to your wife to calm her – not just to appease her… to actually calm her; to allow her to depart from the pain and discomfort that she’s in and transport her to a time and place that is more tolerable and bearable? This requires intimate knowledge of, not only her personality and level of tolerance, but also of what she is experiencing – physically and emotionally. We, as men, can only think in dread and fear of the pain that women experience during labor and childbirth, but have no equal ground on which to draw sympathy or apathy, let alone appropriate emotional support and physical comfort. It is worth noting that physical comfort extends further than a pat on the back or a faint rub across the small of the back as you feebly utter “you’re doing great”. Doulas are all well practiced in pressure points and body positions that are proven to reduce pressure, stress, anxiety, pain etc. This was invaluable during the birth of our child and I could probably never assign a dollar amount to it’s worth or effectiveness.
So now that we know what a Doula is, how is this going to “fit in” to my situation? If you are anything like I was, after breaking down the definition of what a Doula is and answering the question of what they were going to do for me (for the money), I was already convinced that we needed one. BUT I was going to meet this “coach” well ahead of time, interview her, and ensure that she was as good as she needed to be first! This exercise was going to be done on MY terms. If you feel you are already confident enough to fill this entire roll, as well as the role of your wife’s husband (which IS an independent role), then I challenge you to consider the following: I challenge you to consider your emotional and physical involvement in the event of labor and childbirth. While you may confidently offer support as a husband, what you are perhaps overlooking is the exhausting drain that your emotional attachment to the situation places on you. Coupled with this is the expectation that you are the sole responsible party for the happiness and well being of your laboring wife. This is a heavy burden to bear, and a load that becomes heavier and heavier as fatigue and stress (exponentially) increase.
While the magnitude of that sinks in, let us try to put this all together. Every labor is different, and each one will present its own unique opportunities for warm tenderness, intense anxiety, stress and unmatched reward. The one constant of every labor and delivery is that the new mother and father-to-be can never receive too much support (please note that this does not mean more people in the room, I am actually talking about quality and genuine support from those who are invested only in the comfort and support of both mom and dad-to-be). The Doula is exactly that! Working with medical staff (if any), the midwife, family members and you, the Doula ensures the mom and dad-to-be’s preferences and wishes are respected and adhered to. Doula will provide counseling and support to any and all that are in need, and assist you with verbal cues or demonstrations of effective techniques that could or should be applied in the current situation. The Doula will always respect your space and your efforts and will interject only if the need arises. Trained to recognize stages of labor and the appropriate treatment for each, the Doula becomes an invaluable and priceless ally before, during and after childbirth.
I have great respect and eternal thanks for the presence of our Doula throughout the latter part of the pregnancy, labor, delivery and post partum. Her knowledge and advice was priceless and was directly responsible for my ability to wholly support my wife, and also my wife’s ability to labor flawlessly and deliver quickly, easily and in relatively no pain. Men, simply put – a Doula is a no brainer! Don’t regret not making the easy decision to employ a Doula.