There are so many details that go into getting ready for the new arrival of a baby. Moms are busy with all of the small details: washing the tiny clothes, picking out the perfect décor for the baby’s room, and organizing and cleaning the house. Meanwhile, the dads are in charge of crib and furniture assembly, installing the car seats, painting the nursery and hanging pictures. Each job is important and is a time of bonding for both the mom and dad to the idea of a new baby.
What about getting prepared for labor and delivery? Who’s in charge of that? That’s when you may hear your partner mention that she wants to hire a doula. Most often the expectant mom will be the one saying she would like the support of a doula, and the dad is thinking, “What’s a doula and why do you need one?”
One father said about his family’s doula, “I’ve run a number of marathons. I’ve done a lot of hiking with a heavy backpack, and I’ve worked for forty hours straight; but going through labor with my wife was more strenuous and exhausting than any of these experiences. We could never have done it without the doula. She was crucial for us.”
Doulas are trained to support the family as a whole. They are not there to take the place of the father but rather to enhance the experience. A mother needs to know dad is there and that he is with her: loving, concerned, responsive, and taking responsibility for his new child. His presence is important for the emotional connection of the couple and for their relationship to each other and to the baby. The doula recognizes the importance of this and is there to aid not only the birthing mother but to support the father as well.
A doula needs to be sensitive at all times to the couple’s relationship. When they are progressing well and they are interacting successfully, she steps away and remains present but in the background. She also helps involve the father, for example, by showing him how to massage the mother’s back.
The doula will encourage dad to take breaks for himself as well. She is that constant presence in the birthing room that will stay with the mom during times when dad may need to leave to check on other children or simply get a cup of coffee.
Your partner is an essential support person for you to have by your side. However, your partner will need to eat and use the bathroom at times. Also, most partners have limited knowledge about birth, medical procedures, or what goes on in a hospital. Doulas and partners can work together to make up a labor support team.
Working with dads is an awesome experience. When the doula and the dad can come together to support the birthing mother she is more successful in her birth. Women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.
Dads, we are excited to partner up with you, and we hope to see you in the birthing room.
The Doula Book, 2nd addition
Connect with local Okinawa moms on Facebook in “Pregnancy & Birth Talk Okinawa”
Japan Birth Resource Network provides evidence based information and mother friendly support throughout Okinawa and Japan. To learn more visit: www.japanbirthresourcenetwork.com