So this week lets talk about the role your partner may play in the birthing experience. This is a common question among couples. If you hire a Doula, doesn’t that take away from the partners role? Lets explore this.
First of all, as a Doula, I am not there to replace anyone. Every person you invite to your birth will play a role, and as a Doula, it is my duty to find the right place for me. This depends greatly on the families preferences and relationships with those who have been invited (or in some cases, invited themselves). So if I’m not there to replace someone, what do I do?
Often times we focus on the birthing day as this is the big event right? Well as a Doula I work with my clients beforehand. During these prenatal appointments we cover comfort measures and their birth preferences (most call it a birth plan). While we talk about these things, I share with my clients how to use any simple tools/techniques for comfort during pregnancy, and that cross over into labor. I have my clients (including partners) practice any methods they are comfortable trying. This helps my couples work together, and have a good understanding of how and when to use tools and techniques they are comfortable with.
Also, while discussing their preferences, they are able to see all the options that are out there, ask questions to me and their care providers to build a birth plan. Personally, I try not to use the term “birth plan” because the language we use is actually very important. If I were to say to a mom “they are suggesting we go off plan, how do you feel about that?”, it can sound more scary than “they are suggesting we move to your next preference, how do you feel about that?” It also means that the things you feel most strongly about will come across as such. If you prefer certain things, but you must have/not have others, that sends the message of what’s MOST important to you. It is also a more polite way to ask for what you want, and people tend to be more receptive if it’s a request, than a demand. By doing this, it helps to prepare the pregnant person/partner/family to play an active role in advocating for their preferences.
Lastly, lets talk about touch. When someone you love, and who loves you back touches you, it has a chemical reaction that will produce natural Oxycontin. This means that in many cases, when a partner touches you in labor, it will do more than when your Doula does. Simply because of the love between you and your partner. That’s not to say a doula’s touch will do nothing though. The Doula would be able to do counter pressure while you are hugging your partner, just as one example. The point is that touch from those we love is powerful, and if directed in a specific way, can be just what a pregnant/laboring woman may need.
When we take all of this together, it means that a Doula is not there just for the birth. They are there to help you prepare, and to share with you their knowledge. Then when your Doula is not physically there, the people around you can be. Once your Doula arrives on the “big day” they will find their place. I have been to births where I am more hands off because the partner played a bigger role, and others where I was the only one who was able to be hands on. By sharing what I know with the couples I work with, I hope, they are confident in their ability to be exactly where they are needed, and know that I will fill any of the gaps that appear without feeling like I took their place. After all, my hope is to make the birth experience a fond memory for everyone, not just the one who gives birth. That means different support based on each families needs. I want members of the family (partner, grandparents, other children) to participate to their comfort level, and the comfort level of the laboring woman. How big of a role do you want your partner to play, and would a doula help them be more confident in that role?