Why I Advocate for the Dad and Doula Relationship

9 Comments 01 July 2010

by Eric Walker

Hey Dads, I want to tell you about the best partnership besides your significant other that you can possibly make.

No, it’s not with the loser ex-high school buddy who wants to buy you that extra shot of whiskey at the bar you wished you wouldn’t have stepped into.

I’m talking about the relationship I encourage you to have with your doula.

It doesn’t matter if you’re having a home birth or if you are having a hospital or birth center birth. Your doula will be your best friend.

What is a doula? 

Doula is a Greek word that means “a woman who serves.” She is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.

She understands the needs of a woman during a labor and is there to support her through the process both emotionally and physically.

Before I begin to list all the reasons why the doula and dad relationship is so important and beneficial for dads, I have a confession to make…

I wasn’t exactly sure what our doula was going to do at our home birth. Let’s just chalk that up to inexperience and naivety. Because once our doula arrived and participated at our home birth, we couldn’t have done it without her. No joke!

Keep reading to learn about the most significant factors that our doula contributed toward our home birth, and in particular, how it benefits Dad.

How many of you dads enjoy giving your significant other a back rub?

If you’re anything like me, I rather remove an ingrown toe nail. I’m not particularly good at rubbing backs, and it takes a lot of energy and effort.

(But during Katie’s pregnancy I was sure to step up my game and change my attitude about the rubs)

Nonetheless, Katie labored for 24 hours, and the most intensive time period was from midnight to 7 a.m.

All the practice I had during our natural birth class couldn’t replace the expertice of doula’s hands. When I rubbed Katie’s lower back, she later told me it offered no relief.

Our doula knew exactly where to put her hands and instantly releived pain through counter pressure.

Katie said she could practically read her mind. She refers to this moment as pure magic.

This allowed me to be more “cheerleader” and “encourager” and for the most part I left the counter-pressure-relieving rubs to our doula. Nice!

Can you imagine me -Dad- saying to Katie during the intensity of labor, “Um… honey… why don’t you try a different position for labor. I think sitting on the toilet might be better. Here now, let me walk you over there and get you set up properly.”

Hah. Yeah right.

First of all, I would never think of that. Second of all, my influence during labor is about 0 out of 10.

So, what I found amazing, and tremendously helpful was the influence and expertise of our doula.

Any of the her suggestions to move or try different labor positions made Katie more comfortable. They also continued the forward progress of labor.

Only an experienced doula can acquire this kind of wisdom.

For example, as a first time mom, Katie would have never thought of sitting backwards on the toilet with a pillow to lean on to rest. That was our doula’s suggestion, and it worked! Katie made it through some of her toughest contractions that way.

Similarly, our doula knew when to leave Katie alone, and also when to instruct the rest of us when to leave her alone.

Birth wisdom!

This one is my favorite… Our doula worked with our our midwife and together they were like a dream team.

Seriously, if I could award a Gold Medal for successful birth coaching, I would have given them one.

They couldn’t have been more in sync during Katie’s labor.

Around 2 a.m. I needed to crash for an hour or two.

Our doula relieved me so I could sleep. She provided me the opportunity to rest. This proved to be super important so I could have the birth experience during the home stretch of labor.

Super bonus here… Our doula brought along her own oils and when Katie was tired, she rubbed them on her belly and spoke encouraging words.

It’s pretty magical to witness the wisdom of an experienced doula helping along the woman you love…

And knowing that it all leads toward the successful delivery of the most precious piece of cargo you’ll ever bring into your arms.

Put that into perspective!

Lastly, but just as important, our doula always had something encouraging to say. Her energy was great.

Dads, don’t ever be afraid of a doula taking your place during labor and birth. No one can take your place. A doula has a very special role all her own. And hiring the right doula and midwife for your home birth is like assembling a team. A birth team.

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Fantastic article. I’m hoping to set up “Doula’s For Dads” Sessions in my practice in Yorkshire, and reading this has really spurred me on.

    I always try and build strong relationships with the Dads I work with, and I find it really sad when I meet guys who don’t think they are capable of contributing anything to their baby’s birth. I soon put them right!

    I totally see it that I’m there to support the whole family, not just the Mother.

    Yey for Dads!

    Caroline x

  2. Dear Eric,
    Thank you for posting this. Thank you for writing this. If more dads knew that as Doulas we don’t “take over”, we just help to make the experience of birth better for both laboring mom AND Dad.
    Thank you again,

  3. I love it, Eric! Yes, I believe that the doula is in a position to be a tremendous resource for a dad in the birthing time. It’s like the two are working together to do the labor coaching and caring for the mama. The doula knows the specific birth information. The dad knows the specific laboring woman. Together they are the ultimate support.

    Your words resonate with me in a big way when you say, “It’s pretty magical to witness the wisdom of an experienced doula helping along the woman you love.” The experience was, indeed, magical for me to watch our birth team’s wisdom.

    I get the sense that you really stepped it up during Katie’s pregnancy and birth time. Great to hear it. Here’s to dads everywhere stepping it up.

    Yours truly,


  4. Paige says:

    Great article! I almost think my doula was more assistance to my husband than she was to me. He is the first one to suggest a doula to any of our pregnant friends.

  5. Thanks for this interesting article. I wonder whether you would mind me using on my website as something for potential father’s to read? Always good to have male feedback on the role of the doula!


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