When my wife told me that she wanted to hire a doula to be in the delivery room with us when our first child was born, I first had to ask her what a doula was. After receiving the answer, I was slightly offended that a stranger would be playing such an integral and personal role in what I saw as an experience for just the two of us.
But after a few sessions with the doula I saw her as an integral part of making my wife's birth plan come true. She had answers that neither my wife nor I could have conjured in a million years. If your wife recommends that you include a doula in the birthing process, here are some thoughts to put your mind at ease.
1. The doula won't replace you.
My fear was that I would be relegated to being a spectator in the birth of my child if a doula was constantly in my wife's ear during labor. But a doula's role is to facilitate; not replace. The doula worked hard to put me at ease and reassure me that I would be play the primary role in the birth and she would play a supporting role.
2. You'll have the words.
In retrospect, I can't imagine not having a doula to assist me with the words, phrases, and exercises to ease my wife's pain, fears, and anxieties. The doula empowered me by giving me the knowledge to be the partner my wife needed at one of the most stressful times in her life and without her input, I think I would have been a bumbling, stumbling idiot spouting nonsense in the corner of the delivery room.
3. You'll have direct involvement.
If your goal as a father is to play an immediate and direct role in the birth of your child, the doula's goal is to make that happen. In the months leading to the birth the doula drilled us in stretching positions and breathing and relaxation techniques to make labor more bearable for my wife. On the day of the birth, our doula guided us through the choreography to help my wife achieve her goal of a natural birth.
4. Knowledge is power.
Neither my wife nor I had ever been in a delivery room before giving birth to our firstborn. The doula is a guide not only to the birth process but to the entire birthing experience from the moment we left for the hospital to the moment we arrived home. This information was critical to us in understanding how we would navigate the highs and lows of labor and the ability to deal with the moments before, during, and after baby's arrival.
5. You'll have another friend or family member.
The doula's role is to make the birth experience as seamless and painless as possible. When I understood that fact, it allowed me to see the doula as more of a friend or family member than a stranger infiltrating the delivery room. In the end, the doula became a trusted friend enabling my wife to accomplish a goal she set for herself soon after we learned we were pregnant.
6. You'll have aftercare.
Once we made it home with our newborn, the fears and anxieties continued for my wife and our doula became a sounding board to ease her concerns about breastfeeding, sleep schedules, and nutrition. She made more than one visit to our home assisting in us in this major transition.