5 Ways a Doula Supports a Dad Through Labor

A doula supports more than Mom during childbirth: She also provides emotional support to Dad, getting him into his new role with confidence. Here, one explains how.

5 Ways a Doula Supports a Dad or Partner Leonardo da/Shutterstock

When pregnant couples look to hire a doula to support them during pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond, they often don't realize that their support extends to the partner. Dads play a very important role during labor and birth, so ensuring that they are supported and feel confident stepping into their new role is on the top of a doula's mind throughout her time with a family. Here are five key ways that a doula supports spouses and dads during every phase of becoming a parent.

Physical support

During birth, a partner may feel completely overwhelmed with how to physically support the laboring mama. A doula typically senses this apprehension very quickly and is there to swoop in and apply counter-pressure or a hand to squeeze for mom, while dad takes a break. We are highly trained to know specific physical comfort measures, as well as different positions to try, which may take the pressure off the spouse or dad, and alleviate the worry they can feel while watching their partner in distress. Another element of physical support that a doula can offer Dad is to sit with him if Mom is resting. We can play cards, watch movies, grab a bite to eat or some coffee, and just physically be there for them while their emotions are running rampant.

Emotional support

Throughout pregnancy, the spouse or dad is watching their partner go through a wide range of emotional, mental, and physical changes ... at a very fast pace! Making sure Dad feels like he has a sounding board, a person that he can turn to with questions about what his partner is experiencing or how he can support her, is an essential part of being a doula. This layer of emotional support for Dad can really shape his confidence throughout the pregnancy, and have a huge influence over his role as a father.

Postpartum care

Doulas often provide at least two postpartum visits with their clients, and some also offer extended postpartum care. This can bring a massive amount of relief to a spouse or dad, who may be worried about returning to work and leaving Mom at home with the newborn. A postpartum doula typically visits the family once a week for the first six weeks of recovery, bringing food and providing emotional support to both parents. This postpartum care extends, again, to the spouse or dad in that a doula can be a sounding board for what they are experiencing, can help give support should mom experience any postpartum depression, and ensure that both parents are exercising some self care throughout their recovery.

Reassurance

Sometimes the spouse or dad can't get to Mom right when labor begins, or may have to step away for work or other commitments. While not ideal, sometimes there are things that need to be tended to (like other children) that are outside of our control. Knowing that the doula is there for the laboring mom right from the start, and won't leave her side throughout the entire process, can give an incredible amount of reassurance to Dad. When reassurance is there, stress is naturally decreased, which makes for a much more positive labor and birth experience.

Education

Not too sure what delayed cord clamping is or why Aunt Millie suggested castor oil for labor induction? Ask your doula. Through our training and continued education, we are always seeking out evidence-based research that will help our clients make the best decision for their families. If Dad is wondering how to support Mom's breastfeeding, a doula can help educate him on simple tips and tricks that he can employ when Baby arrives.

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