Why Dads Want A Doula

Woman-to-woman support has been a cornerstone of birth support throughout human history. Whether medically, physically or emotionally, women have long been depicted helping other women as they transition into motherhood.

The recent (in the grand scheme of things) addition of fathers to the childbirth process has been a welcome and needed evolution in birth support. But this can sometimes lead to concern about a trained and professional support person also joining the team.

Common fears/questions from partners often include: 

  • What will my role be if a doula is there? Aren't I enough?
  • Will she put pressure on me to aid my partner in a way I don’t feel comfortable with? 
  • That's a lot of money - do we really need her? 

Instead of explaining my very biased (yes, doulas are amazing!) point of view, I reached out to some dads I've previously worked with. Here’s what they had to say:

My first reaction when my wife said she wanted to have a doula was that of insecurity: I thought she was saying that I wasn’t going to be enough of a support for her as she went through her first delivery.  Of course I went along with it because it was what she wanted even though I didn’t think it was something that we ‘needed’.  Having a doula work with us prior to the delivery helped us talk about what we ideally wanted from our birthing experience, and this was really helpful to have someone facilitate this potentially sensitive conversation. 
I appreciated having a doula as part of our birthing team because she allowed me to focus on the emotional support that my wife needed in the moment instead of having to remember what I was prescribed to do as a birthing partner in the mass of books that my wife read (which inadvertently created significant expectations and pressure).  Having the doula focus on the physical comforts so that I didn’t have to was great.  I also really appreciated that our doula was a photographer as well – that way I could be in the moment rather than having to remember to document the experience for posterity. 
Would I hire a doula again if we have another child: yes.  Ultimately she was there to take care of us as a couple, to ensure that my wife was taken care of, and that I was at my best so that I could take care of her too.
— Brian
[My wife] wanted you as a doula, I really wanted to do everything in my power to make her birth a special, encouraging, and empowering day, so I said yes. Also I had never been to a birth and had little to no idea what to expect (all the books tell you... and then say “but everyone’s different”). In retrospect what I loved about having a doula was that it empowered me in my role. What I mean is that it gave me confidence to know that what I was doing was helpful and good because you would have told me if it wasn’t. You were a guide to help me do my job better (at least that was how I felt), plus it was nice having a another set of helpful hands.
— Otis
This is my point form list for why it’s useful to have a doula.
- It’s good to have someone else you know (hopefully trust, even better if you like them) with you through the experience
- You can lean on the doula’s past experiences
- You can tag team care during the wee hours [when exhaustion sets in]
- Intuition under stress is really hit and miss (intuition on what your pregnant partner wants is ALWAYS hit and miss!).
— Chad
photo by Bethany Galster

photo by Bethany Galster

During intense or stressful situations, our bodies automatically go into fight, flight or freeze mode. As labour is often a situation you have not encountered before, there can be a lot of stress as you realize the intensity it brings to your significant other. Neither fight, flight or freeze results in a supported and happy mother. Due to past experience and training, doulas are able to navigate these stressful situations by providing information, coping techniques, and support to both you and your partner. 

I often explain it this way: when you train as a firefighter you don’t simply read books and then expect to know how to approach a fire. Instead you practice with your team, you experiment with various scenarios, and your body learns muscle memory relevant to your situation. A doula is part of your team, can help you practice for labor, and can help you recall those “muscle memory” moments when the stressful moments hit. 

Partners are the most important member of the support team. Your decisions, thoughts, opinions, and feelings directly affect how mother/baby cope and thrive. As doulas, we are there to support you in this essential task so that you and your partner feel closer and more connected through the birth process than ever before. We're here for you dads - we're on your side.

What were your concerns about hiring a doula? Did hiring a doula turn out like you thought it would?

Bethany Galster Birth Doula Photographer 0 (2).jpg

Bethany is a DONA International Certified Birth Doula and mother to an incredibly adorable micro-preemie. Supporting women from a heart space of wisdom and experience, she holds great reverence for mothers and the birthing process.  Her passion lies in creating and cultivating an environment of trust, knowledge, and confidence both prenatally and in birth.