The Doula and The Birth Partner... A Superhero Team!
One common reason given for not needing a doula is that it might interfere with the birth partner's involvement, or just isn't necessary because the birth partner is there to support. Read on for 4 reasons why a doula is the perfect "partner to the partner!"
1. Childbirth education classes are terrific, BUT... no video, role play, or reading can quite match the reality of childbirth. In no other situation is a partner expected to be all things to their loved one (caregiver, cheerleader, soother, nurse), all while watching that loved one handle unquestionably one of life's most intense experiences - all in an environment that might be intimidating or scary, advocating and making decisions that are sometimes difficult to understand fully. A doula is there to equip the partner with confidence, reassurance, and knowledge in how to comfort, how to support, how to calm, and how to be present in ways that provide their partner what is needed, not only for comfort but to also move labor and birth along well.
2. The hormones of birth are miraculous and can do precisely what is necessary, just when most needed. Oxytocin, also known as the "love" hormone, is the ultimate tool in labor, contributing to uterine contractions, the urge to push, the "fetal ejection reflex," the production of breastmilk, and feelings of safety, comfort, and maternal well-being. Who better to foster the release of the "love" hormone than the birth partner, the one who knows and guards the heart of the birthing person better than anyone else on earth? The doula teaches the partner comfort techniques to use, labor positions to utilize, and coaches in the most powerful and encouraging words to say... then backs away to let the couple be. There are few moments more beautiful to witness.
3. "Tagging Out" - sometimes labor can go on for a good long while. When a birth partner's hands have gone numb from that one favorite move that works during every contraction, be it counterpressure, double-hip squeezes, or massaging shoulders, it is invaluable to have a doula as a "partner for the partner." Someone to take over for a while without skipping a beat - with no break in the continuous labor support shown in research to be so vital (read more). The birth partner can then slip away to the restroom, to grab a bite to eat, to update loved ones, or to take a much-deserved rest. After all, there's a new baby coming, and energy will be needed!
4. To say the birth of a child is a life-changing event for both new parents is woefully understated. While the birthing person certainly deserves and requires the bulk of all attention during the birthing process, the creation of this new little human will alter the lives of both parents in ways previously unimaginable by either of them. Yes, a doula is there to support the birth partner... but not only in how to best support the birthing person. A doula's role is also to nurture the partner to feel supported, safe, cared for, confident, and ready to take on the role of a lifetime. To be equipped to create and strengthen the ultimate superhero team - that of new parents.