• Brittany Irwin

Doulas and Dads

How I foster intimacy between Mom and Dad, and the importance of keeping my heart in a position of honor and respect for Dad’s role in birth.

First let me start by saying that this is my own personal doula philosophy regarding birth partners.

I also acknowledge that not all birth partners are “dads,” but for simplicity’s sake I’m referring to this specific role as “Dad” in this blog post.

Whenever I’m contacted by a potential client to set up a free consultation, they’re usually not anticipating just how adamant I am about meeting Dad.

The reason I ask them to come along is for 2 specific reasons:

1. I firmly believe that Doulas do not/should not replace Dad.

2. It’s important that Dad is supportive of my hire and feels comfortable with me being there.

#1 Concern I hear from Dads

Aside from the typical questions about what I do, the value doulas add, and why spend the money to hire a doula, etc. there’s often another question lurking in their minds.

Whether it’s verbalized or not, a lot of Dads wonder or worry about feeling replaced by the doula. They also feel overwhelmed with a lot of new information about pregnancy, birth, and how they’re supposed to ‘help’ Mom.

Typically Dads want to be the provider and rescuer, but aren’t quite sure about how to do that for their partner in birth. Not to mention, it’s a bold brave thing to trust a stranger to help them navigate those uncharted waters. It’s a vulnerable position to allow this stranger so close to their beloved during such an intimate and sacred experience. Dads are fiercely protective, and this is why I work so hard to create a safe space for them to feel respected, honored, and valued in their support role. --This is truly where a good doula comes through for Dads.

If a family decides to hire me after our consultation, it’s a vote of confidence from BOTH partners. It tells me that I have their trust and they believe in what I do. Ultimately this gives me freedom to serve them well without any hidden fear or resentment.

I then spend intentional time with both Mom and Dad during our prenatal visits to grow our relationship and hopefully become a trusted and familiar face that puts them at ease.

How to protect intimacy

Doulas can improve the intimacy and connection between mom and dad throughout labor by taking the weight of responsibility of providing comfort measures and suggesting labor positions.

We offer suggestions to Mom to get her comfortable and then make sure Dad is involved or included in a support role. For dad, that might look like applying counter pressure to her lower back, holding her hand and whispering encouragement into her ear, or just being a steady rock for her to lean on or sway with.

Imagine if you will, your doula is a tour guide and they’re going to give you information, tips, and make sure you’re where you need to be and when you need to be there. We relieve Dad from the stress, anxiety, and pressure of needing to “fix” anything. We guide you along, explain where mom is at in labor, what’s happening physically between baby and her body, and foster the perfect environment for Mom and Dad to remain close and connected the whole way through.

It’s a beautiful thing when Dad gets to focus on pouring out his love and affection on mom. He can let go of everything else. Just be present in the moment through each wave with their beloved.

Creating Space

There are also times when I can sense that it would be beneficial for mom and dad to have some alone time.

Haha I know what you’re thinking, and even though there are benefits to inviting sexual stimulation into the equation in order to speed labor along, I’m not talking about that kind of ‘alone time’ in this blog post (maybe some other time). I’m talking about creating space for just the two of them to have all alone.

Quiet intimate moment between mom and dad.

Giving couples that space and intimacy can help them:

-have honest conversations,

-release fear and tension,

-reconnect and regroup mentally

-help gather the strength to finish strong

-and then sometimes it’s spent in complete silence, resting in each other’s company.

Either way there may be moments that it’s desperately needed, and I do my best to remain sensitive to that and step away to honor their privacy.

“Gimme a break”

Another thing people don’t realize is that doulas are also there to make sure Dad gets a break.

Use the bathroom, grab some lunch, take a power nap. They can do these things and know that Mom is fully supported, she isn’t going to be left alone. Dad gets a breather and isn’t going to fall apart for lack of self-care.

Doulas create space for both mom and dad to thrive!

Sights, sounds, and smells …Oh My!

Some dads just cannot handle the sight of blood or feel rattled by hearing their partner make guttural moaning sounds like they’ve never heard before.

This is normal.

It’s a valid concern when dads aren’t sure how to be supportive when they just can’t deal.

My solution is to get keep them up near mom’s head and focused on her. Focus on her face and remain available to at least hold her hand.

I always make it a point to carry essential oils and lotions for the smells, and juice boxes and honey sticks for when dad is looking pale and needs a boost of sugar to keep him alert. All of this along with making sure dad is also eating and drinking throughout will allow him to feel well enough to stand by his woman and help her labor.

Birth work is all hands on deck. Dad is needed more then ever throughout labor and birth and instead of making him feel lost, small, and insignificant a great doula can help pull everybody together and create the type of environment that is inclusive and supportive of both mom and dad.

When I’m working with my clients, I want them to feel respected. I want them to feel complete freedom to ask questions and express their concerns. I also give them full permission to tell me to back-off if I ever cross a boundary. -They’re in charge. Not me.

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