Yeah, I know it sounds like an appetizer in a Mediterranean restaurant, but more often, pregnant women are opting for a doula, a trained helper to be in the delivery room with them and their partner. As an expectant couple, it would be worth your while to consider this option.
A doula may be a trained health professional, but is often a woman who has watched many deliveries and can be an advocate for mom and baby during labor. As the main doula organization (DONA) says on their web site, “a doula mothers the mother.” At first blush, this may seem like a foreign idea. You may have already decided that you only want the two of you in the delivery room and have even decided against close relatives. Depending on your relationship with your in-laws, having an over-bearing sister or mother-in-law getting between you and your wife isn’t necessarily going to sound “helpful” in this situation. Yet you, as the husband, may come to endorse the idea of the doula.
First, like having mom-in-law in the room, you are doing another thing to support your wife, who, after all, should have whatever she needs to feel comfortable during the process.
Second, a good doula will take a ton of pressure off your shoulders and step in where you might not even see you would be needed. A couple of examples: Girl music for the iPod for labor? – doula has the answers. Best positions during labor for more comfort? – doula has the answers, relief for you when you need to hit the head? – doula is there. Yet the doula is not emotionally connected and has no other agendas during birth.
Additionally, a doula can also help you prepare for labor almost like a coach, helping your wife practice pain management and alternate positions at home weeks in advance of your due date. She can answer questions about how mom feels during labor that go beyond what the doctor knows. The advice of a doula, however, should never be considered in any way a substitute for the direction of a doctor or other healthcare provider. The best of them work together with the hospital staff and husband.
I can say from personal experience, that my wife and I both worried that the doula may have a feminist or hyper-natural orientation and be dismissive of some our opinions. However, after interviewing several, all of whom were very warm and reassuring, we found one who was completely respectful of the decisions we made in our birth plan, and often brought us closer together rather than ever coming between us.
On the actual delivery date, our doula was there in the background, never interrupting, but always providing support for my wife, and for me when I needed a break from the endless dancing around the delivery room. And, she was there to take many pictures of the proud daddy holding his new daughter, before she left us alone with our new family. To learn more about the doulas and whether this option is right for you and your partner, click here.