The practice of having a doula present during childbirth is becoming more and more common in the U.S. in recent years. That said, there are still many misconceptions about the role of a doula, and the benefits they can provide. As a doula, one of the most common hesitations I hear from moms-to-be is that they fear a doula might make the father feel like the doula is taking over his support role. Since I’m obviously biased, we at Cherish thought it would be interesting to get the perspective from some fathers who have experienced the benefits of a doula firsthand.
We asked the same five questions of three fathers who had a doula present during the birth of their child (Tyler, Kyle, and Robby). Below are some of the highlights from their interviews.
Name some benefits of having a doula present at the birth of your child.
All three fathers mentioned that the doula was a calming presence during stressful parts of the labor, and gave them someone to lean on themselves when they felt exhausted. They knew this person was a professional and felt safe in her hands. Tyler said, “My wife was in labor for a couple of days so it was critical to have someone to help with grabbing meals and calm my wife down, as well as myself if I got nervous or wasn’t sure about what we should be doing.”
In one case, a medical intervention was suggested which strayed from the couple’s original birth plan, and being able to talk with the doula as a team was good for the husband and mother in labor to re-group and make a calm decision about what they wanted to do next. Kyle said, “She has different knowledge about the medical procedures than we did. A doctor will tell you it's time for a certain medical procedure, and the doula will be able to give you questions or options for a possible alternative that you can discuss with your doctor to feel more informed and confident that you’re making the right decision.”
Robby especially loved having a doula at the birth of his first child because it made the environment feel more intimate and comfortable. For Robby and his wife, knowing they had their doula with them every step of the way made it feel almost like a home birth.
I’ve been told by some mothers that they are afraid having a doula because they assume the doula may steal the show from the father. Did you feel that way?
We heard the same resounding sentiment from each father: “No way.” “Not at all,” said Kyle. “Our doula was our angel on our shoulder. She calmed me down, which then helped me calm Susan down.”
What were some of your favorite experiences with your doula?
Robby mentioned that all the days leading up to the birth (with the prenatal visits, calls and meetings to prepare the birth plans) were really special, and helped to create a great bond and comfortable relationship with their doula. “The companionship kept everything lighter and more fun in a potentially stressful time.”
Tyler enjoyed being able to trade off support duties with the doula, from having another set of hands at the house to prep meals in the days leading up to the birth to massaging/comforting his wife at the hospital during her labor.
For Kyle, it was the first meeting (and then his awesome experience continued from there). “She came to our home and worked with our schedule, which was very special since I wasn’t able to go to all the doctor appointments. And she set all of our expectations and made me feel at ease and excited for the birth. Her 24 hour availability closer to the birth was amazing too.”
Would you recommend a friend hire a doula for their birth?
Again, the same unanimous sentiment from all three fathers. “Absolutely.” “No brainer.” “Yes, especially for the first.”
Do you feel the additional cost of having a doula was worth it?
Tyler said, “Definitely. The peace of mind for the amount of money is easily worthwhile.”
Robby said, “Yes, wholeheartedly. Especially for your first, 100%.”
Kyle said, “No brainer. You can't put a dollar sign on something so valuable as calming your nerves (and your wife's) during such an intense precious valuable time. That said, my health savings account also paid for it. Check in with your insurance or ask your doula - maybe you can use your HSA credit card to pay for this service.”