Dads & Doulas

My feelings have always been that it is your birth — between the couple. So how can I provide support to both parties? Dad is in a unique position — labor rooms are not usually familiar to them or even comfortable. Attending hundreds of births has made them familiar and comfortable to me.Labor is also challenging in the emotions and stress it can bring up. Communication can be difficult. When the supporting dad is needed the most, it can be the most difficult time for the mom to communicate her needs. Having a “translator” in the room in the form of a doula can provide a link to this gap. The doula is in a position to suggest ways to help enhance dad’s comfort level. She can also do the small jobs of getting ice, changing the bed, lowering the lights, putting on the music, moving the car, getting coffee or food for the dad, answering the phone, etc., so dad can be freed to do the support work. Or I can do the support work to free the dad to do what he needs to do — call the office, check on the other children, update the family or just get a breath of air and a bite to eat.

Doulas never replace the dads, but are extra hands. A doula can help remind the dad when it is a good time for them to walk, take a shower, sit on a rocking chair, etc., so he doesn’t have to stress over remembering all of the information from the childbirth class.

See DONA article on Dads and Doulas.

Feedback/Testimonials from Dads

Michael M., returning dad • We used Cyndi for the birth of both of our children. The first time, I was your expected skeptical dad.We are having our child in a hospital and I’ll be there, why do we need a doula? I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cyndi’s experience is the comfort you are buying. From the first consult to the delivery, Cyndi put our nerves to rest and calmed our fears. Her predictions were on the money, and it was such a relief to have someone to call with questions.You can like your doctor and your hospital, and we did; But the process is not a whole lot of handholding once you hit the doors of the hospital. Your OB and the hospital staff may not be available at all times, but Cyndi you can count on. She won’t let you down.

John D., second time dad • When my wife told me told me she wanted a doula to help with the birth of our second child, I was a bit skeptical. I had always thought child birth was an experience reserved for family. I soon realized your years of experience proved indispensable in helping my wife and I with the physical and emotional stresses of labor. Through your guidance, I was able to give my wife the support she at times didn’t know she needed. My wife and I are able to look back on the birth of our daughter Livia with fond memories. Thank you for helping to give my wife and I the birthing experience we always prayed for. It was an absolute pleasure to have you there with us!

Paul C. • Child birth is absolutely beautiful and absolutely terrifying for fathers. There is blood, sweat and tears. Wives need all the support you can muster and then some. Father’s like me need help. Yes, nurses and midwives (perhaps even a doctor) will pop into the delivery room with well intentioned quick visits, but 90% of the childbirth process is a father and his wife. Fathers: This is the biggest day of your life and you will have ample opportunity to mess things up. Forgive the sports analogy, but would you advise Joe Montana to go into Superbowl Sunday without his coach? Would you go to court without your attorney? I wouldn’t either. That’s why I strongly recommend hiring a doula. A doula has offered support to couples in dozens, perhaps hundreds, of deliveries. Every possible combination of delivery (naturally, induced, cesarean, you name it) she’s seen it and can help you to help your wife get through it. Let’s face it, you’ll be stressed, tired, scared and perhaps not at your cognitive best. Well intentioned medical professionals will be expecting you and your wife to make decisions, some of them very quick, and often they will try to steer you into decisions they think are best. A doula can explain to you the situation and help you understand your options before being rushed into decisions. Also, and perhaps more importantly, your wife will need support. Of course you will do what you can, but frankly, there is stuff you probably just don’t know, such as labor friendly sitting positions, labor massages, and countless other small but important things that will help get your wife through it. And realistically, labor can take several days (it did for me) and at some point you will need to get a bite to eat, or god forbid take a nap, and you will be thankful you have a doula. Your wife will be ecstatic!

Ian M. • Cyndi and I worked together as a team. Among her many tasks, she was photographer, water duty, spiritual advisor and confidant. We even shared a few laughs during delivery! We were able to stick to my wife’s birthing plan. One of my fears of having a Doula was that I would feel replaced, but during consultation and the birth, not once did I feel uncomfortable with her around. Cyndi always knew just what to say and how to touch. It was as if she knew me and my wife before ever meeting us. I will be happy to tell my son about the loving care that was with him as he entered the world. Cyndi’s services are immeasurable and invaluable.

Joey H. • I would highly recommend having a doula after experiencing my first child’s birth. I am a professional racecar driver. Being on the road 30 weeks a year made it very nerve-wracking during my wife’s pregnancy. She could always call Cyndi, though, with questions and when it came time for the big moment Cyndi would be there. Fortunately, I was racing in town the night my son was born. When we found out for sure that my wife was having the baby that night I called Cyndi. She was there in 12 minutes (I don’t know how she even got dressed that fast). Cyndi had lots of great tricks to help my wife be more comfortable throughout labor. Our son came 6 weeks early so we had done no classes, no hospital visits, nothing. Without Cyndi it would have been a 100 times more stressful. I am a firm believer in using a professional to do the job they are trained to do. Cyndi’s job is to make the birth of your child go as smoothly and comfortably as possible while answering questions along the way. She is very good at her job. A true professional.

The following is a birth story provided by a first time dad. Here were his thoughts on having my doula support on their labor and delivery:

The Doula at the Birth of Pierce: A Father’s Perspective by Mark L., Ph.D.

A doula? “What’s that,” you may ask yourself, “It sounds Greek; can you eat it?” Since I now have direct experience with a doula, I’m pretty sure you cannot order one at a restaurant. I can also tell you that a good doula is extremely helpful to you as a father during the birth of your child.

I generally pride myself on effective and efficient decision-making in order to get things done. You may as well throw that expectation out the window during your wife’s labor. The combination of emotion and uncertainty made it difficult to operate in the usual manner. Although every birth experience is unique, it is probably safe to say that things rarely go completely as expected. So even if you have taken a lot of classes and read some books in preparation for the birth, you might find yourself not knowing exactly what you should do at some moments during the labor — or maybe the whole labor!

But of course your wife and society expects you to fulfill certain roles as the father/coach. The doula is part of your team for doing these things to help your wife and child. She will pick up the pieces you’ve dropped, and if you’ve dropped the ball, she’ll help you get things back under control. The doula will basically help you keep things on track as much as possible during all the crazy stuff that happens during labor. Her knowledge and experience make up for what most fathers (especially rookies like me) lack. Not only does this help your wife endure the amazing physical task of birth, but will also help the father enjoy the overall experience, and most likely helps the baby come out safely. A good doula will do these things without pressuring you to make decisions one way or the other, respecting you and your wife’s health care decisions, and working cooperatively with the medical team
in the hospital.

Although what I wrote above was intended to extol the virtues of a good doula in general, our doula Cyndi Whitwell did a great job of fulfilling the roles. She was a huge help in the successful delivery of our son, despite some scary labor complications. Our son Pierce was her 500th birth, so she has lots of experience. Our family is grateful for her help, and as a father, I’m grateful for her helping me keep it together.So good luck!