Okay Dads, you're probably reluctantly having a look at this web page purely because the mother-to-be of your child has talked you into it. Are you feeling a little disappointed or hurt that she feels the need to have some stranger there at the birth of your baby? Please don't be!
Many fathers prepare enthusiastically for the birth: they read the books, endure the gory details on TV documentaries and attend their childbirth classes religiously - but evidence shows that despite all of this preparation, too many fathers felt overwhelmed, frightened, ill-informed, out of control and powerless during what should be one of the best and most memorable events of their lives.
Very few men are prepared for the reality of childbirth. Much of it is very boring! In fact, very little tends to happen at all until you reach the final stretch, but the final stages of labour can also be pretty terrifying - to see your loved one in what seems to be acute pain can be very difficult for fathers, especially when you're used to "doing" to make things better. Many new fathers say that the feeling of helplessness they experienced during the birth was overwhelming. In an ideal world, a midwife that you know and trust would be with your partner constantly throughout labour, giving you confidence that she was being well looked after and leaving you free to be the emotional support system. In reality, you may have a midwife who you've never met before and shift changes also mean that continuity of care is unlikely if the labour is a long one.
From the mother's point of view, however much she loves you and wants to share the birth of your child together, there is much comfort to be taken in having continuous support from a female who is knowledgeable about childbirth. A doula is never there to replace the father but is there to offer both practical and emotional help and support to BOTH of you.
If you already have children and were there at their births, you may be wondering why your partner thinks she needs a doula this time. Did she have a caesarean last time? Did she need extra help at the delivery with forceps or ventouse? It's not uncommon for women to feel they have "failed" in doing something they think should be so easy, and very often they will do all they can to make sure that their next birth is a more positive experience. Having a doula present has been shown to reduce caesarean rates by as much as 50%, assisted deliveries from 26% to 8%*, the length of labour is shortened, there is less need for epidurals, and importantly, the parents memories of the birth are far more likely to be positive.
A good birth can be a pivotal moment in a woman's life - the sense of achievement and increase in self-esteem influences her relationships with those around her, not least with her partner. This "babymoon" can last for months, and the following study* shows some startling statistics:
Satisfaction with partner: No doula at birth With doula at birth
Before pregnancy 63% 65%
During pregnancy 48% 49%
Since the baby was born 49% 85%
Relationship better right
after the birth 30% 71%
I am always respectful of the special relationship between parents and will be happy to stay in the background. I can also give you practical help, showing you ways of helping your partner such as massage, positions of support during contractions/pushing, or even just giving you a break to make phone calls or get coffee.
If you want more detailed information about how I can help, please feel free to browse the rest of this website! And if you have specific questions, please contact me and I'll get straight back to you.
* taken from The Doula Book, Klauss, Kennell & Klaus 2002