To the Daddy Doula
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Fetch and tie her shoes when she can't bend anymore; rub her back, her legs, her belly; help her with the other kids when you can; and lift for her. Give her lots of water - she'll drink more if you give it to her than if she has to waddle to the faucet. Play and talk with your baby while she is still inside. She can hear you and will recognize and enjoy your voice. Realize that pregnancy is often an emotional time for a woman because of various hormone changes. Hormones are powerful substances that alter the consciousness and need to be understood as that. You can help her through her hormone changes by not being judgmental about how she might seem to be and by knowing that her state of mind can be quickly transformed by your being her loving buddy. One of the most important things you can do for your mate is to let her know that she's still attractive to you, that she's still a turn-on. At the same time, remember not to put pressure on her to make love to you. Being impatient about when your wife is going to have her baby is like somebody telling you to have an erection - right now!
- Stephen Gaskin
One of the most common reservations a partner has when deciding to hire a doula or not, is that the doula will take away their role in the delivery room. They often think, "Well, if we have a doula then what am I going to do?" "Am I even going to be needed?" "I will feel useless." Those are all very common thoughts and feelings a partner may have before they are educated on what a doula does and how a doula truly enhances everyone's experience, including the partners'! In our first blog post, I talked about this big question - if you missed it you can find it here.
With the recent restrictions put on birth attendants at the hospital due to COVID-19, relying on your partner for your main support in labour is your only option, for now. Even in the postpartum stage it is you two together, whether your partner is "all in" or not. For some they are ready to take the challenge, pair up, and be all that you need them to be. For others they may feel intimidated by the whole process, overwhelmed, and quite frankly just not feel qualified or equipped to be your best advocate and dependant.
Many partners will go forward in the decision of hiring a doula, even though they still want to be heavily involved in the labour support. Others hire because they already know from past experience the advantages of doula support, they have a weak stomach and can't be the only one you're relying on, or because they are just unsure how to help their woman cope through the process and they want help.
Our desire and mission as doulas at Lovewell is to give the supporting partner the assurance and knowledge they need to confidently support their spouse as she births and nurtures the new life given to them. In no way are we here to take away from anyone's experience - doulas are actually excellent at enhancing and adding to it!
I'm happy to say that at Lovewell Birth Collective we've decided to start offering virtual doula support for as long as social distancing is mandated. We are working with what we have, and if we cannot be with you in person, we can still certainly support you as best we can through video chats, phone calls, and texting while you go through pregnancy, prepare for childbirth, and journey through postpartum.
Though there's always much more to share and cover in personalized discussions, I wanted to share some helpful tips for how your partner, or "Daddy Doula" can support you through pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
So, for all you partners out there gearing up during a pandemic to be the only in-person support for your spouse...here is a doula's encouragement/advice for you!
Words of Affirmation
She is like a flower - nurturing her with sweet, uplifting, and encouraging words will make her BLOOM, I tell ya! I've broken this down into three stages, giving you some phrases to keep in mind if you find you're always repeating the same thing, or just aren't sure what to say, here's a few ideas:
- you look beautiful
- you are/are going to be a great mom
- I recognize you're body is working so hard
- What can I do for you?
- I'm proud of you
- you are stronger than you think you are
- you can do anything for one minute, you got this!
- relax your shoulders, relax & open your jaw
- let your body do the work
- I'm with you
- you're doing a great job
- you're beautiful
- how are you feeling?
- I'm proud of you
Provide Comforting Touch
I highly recommend you experiment with this before she goes into labour! The last thing you want is to be in the delivery room, with her frustrated at you cause you just don't know how to comfort her physically. So while she's still pregnant, take the time to find out where and how she likes to be soothed while in discomfort. Does she like a firm, still, touch? Or does she prefer light strokes down her back? Does she like the feel of your fingers running through her hair? Does she get annoyed if you touch her face? Does she like her feet touched? Where on her back does it feel most comforting - mid, lower, shoulders, hips? Does she like to move/dance/rock back and forth through pain, or to stay still? Does she like heat on her back? A cool cloth on her forehead? We could go on...the point is, there are probably some things to find out about your spouse and how you can comfort her. Just ask her questions and let her answer you honestly. You will find your rhythm together in the delivery room much quicker if you practice and know her preferences beforehand.
Ask Her Questions
There is something in a woman where she just wants to be known and sought after. She's actually secretly waiting on you for this. One of the best ways you can support her in all of these stages is simply just asking her, "How can I help you right now?" or, "What can I do for you?". If she just wants to talk, then asking her something like, "How does that make you feel?" will open her up and provide her safe space to talk - as by doing that, you're giving her ground to bear her emotions, and showing her you're not just trying to fix or diagnose the "problem".
"The more you read, the more things you know" - Dr. Seuss
Whether in books, blogs, or online articles, there's tons of resources out there for whatever information you're looking for. Read up on the stages of pregnancy she's currently in, what to expect during labour and delivery, or nutritious foods/snacks for postpartum health. Watch some YouTube tutorial videos of how to swaddle your newborn, how to sterilize bottles, or how to run a sitz bath. Whatever it is you think you can pitch in with, there's endless resources we can direct you to or you can just search for online. Trust me, she will notice this is in you, and appreciate the effort more than you know!
I hope you find these tips helpful in your journey together. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in more information on virtual doula support. All the best to you!
[Left image: @breillyphotog]