DADS AND DOULAS
I've come to find that some of my biggest supporters aren't the women I serve. They aren't other birth workers either. It turns out that the dads really like me.
It's not that I didn't think they would find my services beneficial once all was said and done; but word is some men aren’t really sold on the whole doula thing. Some are afraid that a doula would take their job away during labor. Others feel that it's one more way to spend money unnecessarily. Here are some of the other (and quite funny) concerns that the Papas have about hiring doulas:
So you want to pay for a cheerleader? I'll be your cheerleader. Or even better, my mom will be your cheerleader.
Isn't that for white women?
Isn't that for rich women?
Why do you want a stranger there? You don't even want my mom there.
Sounds real bougie to me.
Is a doula really worth the money?
The bougie one is my personal favorite. Yes Sir, your wife is bougie. You're welcome.
I completely understand your position, Dads. Adding a new member to the family is expensive and men tend to focus on the expenses. In fact, according to the TD Bank Love and Money Study (2015), “four out of five respondents state they make big financial decisions with their significant other, but men are almost twice as likely as women to say that they are the decision maker (26 percent of men vs. 14 percent of women)”. Once you get that price breakdown from your doctor's office and the hospital it can seem like each week there's a new bill for something baby related before the baby even arrives. It's like the CVS receipt that never stops printing.
Also, pregnancy brings about vulnerability in women. There are people who prey on that vulnerability. Whether it be sales people trying to up sell you on a fancy new state of the art rocket ship crib, or financial advisers who prey on your new parent fears to up sell you on investments that probably aren't necessary. The point is, men tend to take on the role of protector and they are watching out to make sure their wife isn't being sold all the dreams and being taken advantage of.
While these concerns are justifiable so are the concerns of the pregnant woman who is looking for a doula. She recognizes that she needs extra support in order to feel comfortable, safe, and respected during her birth experience. Everyone who is a part of her birth team should be on board with fulfilling her needs at this time because she is doing life’s ultimate work. She definitely deserves to have a doula- every woman deserves to. Here’s the thing, Dad…so do you. You absolutely deserve to have the extra support of a professional in the room who is 100% working in the best interest of your family. You deserve to have a person in the room who works to ensure you are just as supported, cared for, and attended to during the birth of your child. You deserve your own inside (wo)man-someone who can get you up to speed real quick when things are moving faster than you can keep up with, or when the medical jargon starts to sound like a foreign language. You also deserve to have an empowered birth experience.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR DAD?
One of the first things I like to let dads who come to the consultation know is that as a doula, I’m there to support him as much as I am there to support his wife/partner. My job for him is to ensure he has the information and skills necessary to confidently support his wife/partner through labor. In labor I find that people tend to be most confident when they have an identified role to play and have a chance to practice at that role before the big moment-just like sports or any other performance. Dads who involve themselves from the beginning tend to feel most prepared, confident, and proud of the outcome after birth. Here are the benefits of a doula for dads:
Choosing a doula- you will have input on hiring the doula that’s best for both your wife/partner AND you. You also want to feel comfortable with the doula because the two of you will be working closely in supporting your birthing partner. You want to know that you will feel comfortable asking your doula questions.
Birth preference planning- you will learn about the birth process which in turn will help you understand how best to support your wife/partner. You’ll also feel more comfortable communicating with medical staff when you are at the hospital.
Advocacy- you will learn from the doula how to be the best advocate for your wife/partner. Your doula will help you understand how to communicate with health professionals. Sometimes it becomes necessary for you to speak up for and on behalf of your wife/partner while she is in labor. You want to be sure you both are on the same page and that you will know when and how best to do that for her.
Physical and emotional support- Dads often tell me that they know they will be there but they aren’t sure what they’re supposed to do. That can be intimidating especially if you are planning to be the only person there with her. You want to be able to practice some tried and true tactics beforehand and your doula will help you know exactly what to do when. It’s also just nice to know that someone else has YOUR back. You will be able to take breaks knowing that your wife/partner is well taken care of. Sometimes the emotions during labor can run high, especially if emergencies occur. With a doula you know you will have someone in your corner who can coach you through the moment and help you manage those emotions.
I’ll tell you this. I haven’t met a dad yet who regrets the money spent on their doula. In fact what I almost always hear from the men whose wife/partner hired a doula is “I’m so glad you were here, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you here”; or “Man, I wasn’t ready for any of that. I’m glad you were there to help us out”; or “the information you gave us at the prenatal visits really prepared me. I knew exactly what to do”. One mom lovingly joked with me that her husband now brags to all of his friends about HIS doula. Be that guy, Dad. Be him!