With all this talk about the laboring woman needing support, you may be wondering as a dad where you fit into this picture. It might feel like your participation will be unnecessary or unwanted if a doula is present. But that would not be true.
In my experience, every hand is needed when it comes to supporting the mom in labor. And there are aspects of support that only you can provide. You have the relationship and the history and the intimate understanding of this woman like no one else does. I can't create that. Doulas do tend to form a bond with their clients, but it's different than the connection she has with her husband.
You might also be wondering what's in it for you. You could definitely benefit from having the freedom to take a break without leaving your wife alone without support, couldn't you? Simple things like grabbing something to eat, calling family members or talking to people in the waiting room all take away time from being hands-on helping her through labor. You might even need to do something as profound as going to the bathroom or taking a nap! I'm there to take care of her when you need to take care of you.
What about this? Even if you have taken a childbirth preparation class together, are you confident that you will remember everything that you learned and also know exactly when that information applies? One aspect of my support is to help provide this guidance. I'm there to be your open book for this test! I can help you to know exactly what to do and when and even sometimes what not to do. There is plenty to be done between the two of us, so I can let you know what would be most helpful at various points throughout the labor.
You don't have to become an expert about birth because I already am.
My goal for your part of this is that you would be able to have a joyful experience, confident that your wife is doing well in her labor and that you are in this together, working as a team to see your baby born. I want you to walk away from the birth in amazement at how strong this woman you love is, not stressed out and traumatized by the process. It's the birth of your child as much as it is of hers, so you need support in as many ways as she does.
The physical support is giving you breaks and encouraging you to take care of yourself, and guiding you towards the best ways to physically assist your wife in labor. The emotional support is that reassurance and providing a sense of calm in what can seem like a turbulent situation. The informational support is filling in the blanks of what is going on in the labor process itself as well as answering questions more thoroughly about any medical options that might come up. It's often also giving you the words to know how to ask questions from your care providers to be able to get more technical details than I can provide.
I'm there to support you as a team. My hope is that you will walk away from this experience and tell all of your friends that they absolutely should hire a doula.
Some of my dads from the past have been my greatest marketers!
But don't just take my word for it. Here are links to a few resources that will give you additional perspective on how dads and doulas make a great birth support team.