Let’s face it, there is a lot of confusion associated with the role of a Doula in the birth process. Many fathers are not clear about the value of a Doula to both both mom and dad. Oftentimes the questions that resonate are: Who is this person? Do I have less of a role in the room during the birth of my child? Are they going to be burning incense, chanting songs, and doing dances? Okay, perhaps that was a bit much, but you get the jist. Dads may not express their emotions externally, but many harbor the same concerns as moms do internally. This is one of the many reasons why Doula’s are a valuable part of the birthing team.
The birthing room is a pool of emotions. Most of the time the environment is majority female focused which can be overwhelming for fathers. A Doula acts as a bridge between moms and dads as well as between parents and medical staff. According to Dona International, the world’s leading Doula certifying organization, a Doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible”.
Dispelling myths of the relationship between Dads and Doulas is a vital part of clearing up confusion. Below are a couple of common misunderstandings that some of the fathers I’ve spoken to have:
Myth: If the Doula is there, that means I don’t have to be because she taking my place as my wifes'/partner’s birthing companion.
Truth: Concerns of role redundancy are a common reason that Dads are reluctant to elect to have a Doula present during childbirth. However, the truth is that your birth plan is your own. A Doula is there to support in the ways that you and your partner need. This support can range from being hands on to just for emotional reassurance.
Myth: The Doula will overthrow the birth plan with her own agenda.
Truth: The Doula is there to provide evidence based support to both the mother and her partner. That can include, but is not limited to the following:
“While a Doula’s primary focus is the mother, supporting and partnering with fathers is key to serving the entire family’s needs. Understanding his needs and perspective allows the Doula to expand her skills and impact on her clients”
(Dona International, 2015).
Tamarah Taylor, M.S.Ed, Communications Manager, NOVA Birth Partners
Choose to feel love, choose to feel safe, and choose to feel heard.
Dads & Doulas: Myths & Resources. (2016, September 21). Retrieved from https://www.dona.org/dads-doulas-myths-resources/
When thinking of your birthing experience, have you considered your delivery team? Depending on each pregnancy, this team of medical professionals may vary. For moms who seek “hands on” care, a midwife can be a great option. According to WebMD, you may want to consider working with a midwife if:
According to American Pregnancy, the Midwives Model of Care includes:
Having a Doula as a part of the birthing team can add an additional layer of support for both the mother and father. Oftentimes even the most dutiful midwife can find herself unable to provide as much one-to-one support that expectant mothers need. According to American Pregnancy, women reported having a more overall positive birthing experience (whether natural or c-section), with the presence of a doula.
Doulas also offer a unique opportunity for antepartum and postpartum support that is not always available with a midwife. An antepartum Doula can be a great support for a high risk pregnancy or a mother that has been on bedrest by providing “informational, emotional, physical, and practical support in circumstances that are often stressful, confusing, and emotionally draining”. A postpartum Doula can provide support after birth by helping with such things as lactation support, cleaning, cooking, and for emotional support.
When considering your birthing options, understanding the fundamental differences between a midwife and doula can be helpful. Oftentimes, families consider both and find that this combo provides for a strong support team for one of the most important days of a mother and fathers lives. No matter what your birth plan is, remember to choose to feel love, choose to feel safe, and choose to feel heard.
Tamarah Taylor, M.S.Ed,
NOVA Birth Partners
Anagnost-Repke, A. (n.d.). Parents-to-Be, This Is the Difference Between a Midwife and a Doula. Retrieved from https://www.popsugar.com/moms/What-Difference-Between-Midwife-Doula-45654985
Having a Doula: Their Benefits and Purpose. (2017, July 22). Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/having-a-doula/
Midwives - American Pregnancy Association. (2017, May 15). Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/midwives/
What Is a Midwife? (2012, June 8). Retrieved from www.webmd.com/baby/what-is-a-midwife
Fondly referred to as the “not ‘yo Mama’s birth plan”, [M]otherboard is an interactive online tool that provides parents with the opportunity to hone in on the most important aspects of their birthing plan. I had the pleasure of using this tool to develop my own personal birthing plan and I must say that I was very impressed by the ease of usage and the beautiful finished product!
When I first logged into the [M]otherboard my initial thought was “Wow, information station”! Each section of the homepage is filled with valuable information on most all major aspects of the birthing process, including a variety of topics for expectant parents to consider for their own birth plans.
I was able to navigate through the platform fairly easily with prompts provided at the top of the homepage. However, I did find that the sheer amount of information made for an initial overwhelming experience. This was simplified by going through the platform with my doula at our prenatal appointment. Going through each section from labor to postpartum to baby meds provided the visual progression within the birth planning process that so many moms seek.
Traditional birth plans can be rather long winded with excessive reading that can often seems daunting to medical staff. According to [M]otherboard, “ Many providers hate them. They’re seen as too long, demanding, unrealistic, or negative. Studies have actually shown that in certain places, having a birth plan can negatively impact how staff treats you” ([M]otheboard, 2018).
Completing a birth plan through this platform provides expectant parents with a library of evidence based resources to consider and then guides users through a simple click and pin process to create a clear, concise, targeted list of birthing preferences that is a one page colorful valuable resource for your big day!
Choose to feel love, choose to feel safe, and choose to feel heard.
PS: Getting your own Motherboard started? Check out this handy Step-by-Step Guide.
NOVA Birth Partners, LLC serves all birth centers and home births in Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC in addition to the following hospitals: INOVA Fairfax, INOVA Fair Oaks, INOVA Loudoun, INOVA Alexandria, Reston Hospital, Stone Springs Hospital, Virginia Hospital Center, Sibley Hospital, Medstar Washington Hospital Center, George Washington University Hospital, Winchester Hospital, Prince William Hospital, Shady Grove, Holy Cross, Sentara Hospital, and more! Serving Maryland as far as Anne Arundel County, Prince George's County and Montgomery County, Maryland.
Serving all clients in Washington, DC, Annapolis, MD, Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Washington DC suburbs including: Southern Maryland, Accokeek, Waldorf, Suitland. Also serving west Northern Virginia including: Prince William County, and more. Other areas served include: Fairfax, Arlington, Sterling, Herndon, Herndon, Ashburn, Leesburg, Winchester, Burke, Manassas, Gainesville, Haymarket, South Riding, Chantilly, Centreville, Falls Church, Tysons Corner, Mclean, Alexandria, Woodbridge, Fredericksburg, Bethesda, Silver Spring, and more!
NOVA Birth Partners, LLC is a birth & postpartum support professional practice composed of a dream team of providers: Birth Doulas, Postpartum Doulas, Newborn Care Specialists, Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), Birth Photographers, Placenta Encapsulators, Childbirth Educators, Massage Therapists, and Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Experts.