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Husbands and Doulas



Several readers have asked how the Professor feels about hiring a doula. Specifically, does he feel threatened by another person being involved with the labor. I have heard several men express the fear that having a doula might in some way “replace” them. These guys are adamant that they want to remain an active part in their wife’s experience.

I applaud these men for wanting to stand by their lady’s side and I encourage them to be there, be present and be positive throughout the entire event. Y’all are amazing and your wives are lucky women.

But in all seriousness, nothing can prepare a man for what their wife is going to experience. And I don’t mean the pain and yelling of labor. I mean the spiritual and emotional connection your wife has to this baby and the birthing process. Personally, I have feelings and urges about my baby and his or her birth that I just cannot put into words. Because of this, I feel there is no  way for me to completely prepare my husband for what to expect or how to assist. Sure we’ll do the Hypno Babies training, but that will only give us the dance steps. It won’t give us the rhythm. Does that make sense?

We have tried to talk about what I need him to do during labor and the conversation rarely gets much further then, “I’ll need you to make sure I have my canteen with in arms reach and that there is toast ready and waiting… I don’t care if you have to pre-toast the bread and bring it in the hospital bag, I know I’ll need toast.” Otherwise, I don’t know what I’ll need.

Still, though, the Professor wants to be involved. He wants to help and he knows that asking me what he can do while I’m in the midst of a wave will only result in an annoyed wife. He is also acutely aware of how important this birth experience is for me – this is going to be our only child so there is no opportunity for a do-over. It took about five seconds of discussion to decide we needed a third-party present the entire time to assist and keep us on beat. So we hired a doula. Not only is the evidence supporting a doula during childbirth amazing (a reduced cesarean rate? Yes please!) but the idea of having someone in the room the entire time who is acutely attuned to the needs of me, baby and husband is incredibly comforting.

And the Professor agrees.  In preparation for this post, I asked how he felt about having a doula and he looked at me like I had two heads, “Uh, I can’t imagine not having a doula. I want someone in there at all times who has a vagina and understands what the hell is going on.” Well said, Professor, well said!

photo (8)

On a slightly unrelated note: this totally awesome folder was given to me by a friend years ago. I recently unearthed it  and thought it was perfect for my birth folder. What would Angry Scotsman Do during childbirth? Drink more Whiskey. 🙂




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  1. March 14, 2013

    Hilarious, my husband would kill for that folder!!

    Nothing really can prepare you, that book I recommended is the best and most helpful thing I could imagine. I can’t believe I didn’t do any birth art before having arch, what a shame! My hubby was not overly enthusiastic a out being “involved” mostly just because the whole thing scared the crap out of him. Having the right team there to support you is so important. I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to hear and share your birth experience, it is truly the most incredible thing your body will ever do! Made me appreciate my body so much, healed my anger over a difficult conception.

    Yay for doulas!!!

  2. March 14, 2013

    Men don’t have vaginas and have never given birth. Thus they have no idea what to do. I love that Professor is completely on board with a doula and wish that I didn’t have to have a c-section if I ever get the chance to give birth.

    • March 14, 2013

      I know my doula will attend planned c-sections, too! She serves the same role as natural birth, making sure you know your options, that any needs you have are heard and met, and that you have breast feeding and post pardum support. And hang in there. I know how hard waiting on the transfer can be. I have all of you guys in my thoughts !

  3. karaleen #
    March 14, 2013

    I have a good friend who is a doula. It is amazing how much they don’t take “away” from the husband. They actually help guide him to be involved in a much more active way since the laboring mama is usally too pre-occupied to really verbalize what it is she needs. Having a doula really helps take a lot of the questions of what to do away from hubby. I’m so happy you both have found one. I have been with 5 women during labor (before I ever had my own kids)…each time I was more confident in what I could do to be a support to them….the first time was just so foreign and even a bit scary for me. So I’m sure I was not much help to my first friend who asked that I attend. By the fifth time….I knew when to speak, when to touch and most of all…when not to. VEry Very important. Now…since i never went through any labor…my husband got lucky and basically just sat next to my head for both c-sections. I’m pretty sure he would have been great though since he had also supported one of his sister’s through childbirth. (very rare for a guy). And he was AWESOME in the operating room. I sincerely hope and pray you get that wonderful natural birth you desire. And most of all…a beautiful, healthy baby in the end.

  4. March 14, 2013

    Yes, well said professor! You know Belle, I have to share a little story with you, I have not written about it in my blog because I gave the woman I am about to discuss my information, and I don’t want her to read about herself and feel bad about her birth. My daughter and I were in a WIC office the other day and she noticed a new born baby and immediately asked me to, “Sit by baby mommy! Sit by baby!” It was a woman and her mother who was holding her month old baby boy. We began a conversation about where I would be delivering, and it turned out she delivered at the same hospital where I will be giving birth (they have about a 33% C Section rate). I asked her how her birth went, and I could tell that she was confused and disappointed by her birth as she discussed it. She ended up having a C Section, but tried very hard for an unmedicated vaginal birth. She said that neither her husband or her mother could help her get through it and that the nurse discouraged her and said she was in too much pain, so she ended up getting an epidural. She mentioned that she wished she had a doula to help her through and that it was extremely difficult to go through without support..

    I’m not sure what led to the C Section, but I could guess that the baby probably did not respond well to the medication and his heart rate probably dropped, and/or her progress of labor stopped or slowed down, Side effects which you know are caused by the epidural. I asked her if she wanted more children and if she would try the next time for a vaginal delivery, and she said yes but that she was not allowed to have a vaginal birth after C Section. I was shocked that they told her this!!! I said you can absolutely have a vaginal birth if you want it, its called a VBAC. She looked at me like she was also shocked and said, “Are you sure?”, and I said I was absolutely positive! I gave her some resource websites so she can research it herself, and I really hope she does.

    The funny thing about her story is that every OB I have met who deliver at this hospital has told me that the nurses there are, “Extremely supportive of natural childbirth and the birth you want to have.” I have to wonder, if that were actually true then why did this woman not receive any support from any nurse for what she wanted and needed? The answer is because you have to fight for the birth you want, you have to be knowledgeable, adamant, and prepared, and you definitely need a labor support person such as a doula. Most people who work in hospitals, as you know, have never seen an unmedicated birth and are uncomfortable with women going through labor. I am so curious as to what I will experience when I go there to give birth and whether or not I will meet any nurse who will support my birth plan.

    The term doula and what they do for a laboring woman or couple is still not widely known by the general public, so it doesn’t surprise me that people ask questions like whether or not our husbands are ok with having doulas at our births. The assumption that a doula would take over the birth seems funny to me, where did people get that idea anyway? Maybe an experience with a DGB (doula gone bad) or a father who had a bad experience with a doula put these notions out there? I feel so incredibly blessed that we found such an amazing woman to be our doula for this birth. Neither my husband or I can imagine giving birth without her there to support us!

    You are absolutely right about men not having a clue what it is their wives are about go through as they labor and give birth. First of all it can not be put into words, and second everyone and every birth is different, so it is difficult to guess what we will need from our husbands and what they should plan for. I was so mad at my husband for not doing the right things for me when I first went into active labor, but I didn’t realize in those moments that he was scared and clueless because of the whole situation of his wife being in pain, not because he didn’t care enough to prepare himself. Once my nurse started acting as a doula for us, he finally was able to support me the way she was, and he helped me through it.

    I absolutely believe that doulas should be available to women in every hospital. I am so happy that you and the Professor are having a doula at your birth!

  5. March 14, 2013

    oh how I heart your husband!!!!!

    you two are awesome. xoxo

  6. March 14, 2013

    Um, more importantly, WHERE ARE THE LATEST BUMP PICS?! We haven’t seen the Chicken in ages!

    Also that’s the best thing your husband has ever said. I think that’s how I should present the idea of a doula to my hubby, actually — he thinks those women are all super-hippie-dippy types that are way overpriced, but considering we’re going with an OB instead of a midwife, I feel like I really need someone who will speak to me in plain English about how to mentally and physically cope during labour.

  7. theyellowblanket #
    March 14, 2013

    As a doula, I have to say that any good doula will know how to not step on your husband’s toes and encourage him and empower him to be involved. The doula is more like a guardian who protects both of your sanity through the process.

  8. March 14, 2013

    My delivery (2weeks ago) was attended by both my (eager) husband and my doula, a beloved family friend who has been present for the births of all of my nieces and nephews. I couldn’t have gotten through it without having both of them there. Each played a separate but equally important role. I do plan to blog about this and my birth story as soon as I can, but all I have time for right now is commenting;) (newborns are lots of work!) I’m glad the professor is supportive of the doula plan!

  9. March 14, 2013

    My husband and doula (a close family friend) were both hugely important to me during my delivery (2weeks ago-haven’t had a chance to blog about it all yet… Newborns are lots of work!;) I couldn’t have done it without both of them being there! They did not crowd or cramp each others’ style in the least. It all just flowed as it was supposed to… With husband here when I needed him and doula there when I needed her.
    I’m glad to hear the Professor is supportive of the doula plan! It’s such a beautiful and emotional day. No matter where it happens and who is there!
    So excited for you:)

  10. jak #
    March 15, 2013

    i would add one more box to the flow chart at the very bottom – “FASTER RECOVERY AND BETTER BABY BONDING” :)))

    thank you for posting this belle, and thanks for everyone’s comments – i think i’ve definitely learned something from reading this. i am someone whose husband is in the “no doula! what about me?!” camp. and i would totally be ok with this, except that i am worried that my husband will encourage me to give up too soon – to throw my cards down and head to the hospital instead of toughing it out at the birth center. he is reading bradley everything, taking husband coached childbirth class with me, practicing the exercises with me, etc. but like you, belle, i dont think he realizes how much this experience means to me. it’s not only about getting the kid out and into the world. its much bigger than that. it is spiritual and it is biochemical.

    my husband packs my lunch. he cooks my dinner, cleans the house, picks up the dog poo, chops firewood, does a million other supportive things, and still is successful in his career (you might be asking what the hell do i do given all this? i commute 3h of my day, that’s what, hahaha!). i’m not sure where his energy comes from. but i think that if there is any husband that can step up and fill the doula-husband roll, it is him. but what i’ve learned from this post, is that i need to communicate my desires to him way ahead of time so that he can ready himself in the way a doula is already ready – he needs to know i’m going to be cranky, focused, not wanting to be bothered, while at the same time needing to be taken care of. he will need to know a variety of support techniques, coaching relaxing, coaching pushing, coaching waiting, and most of all NOT ENCOURAGING ME TO GIVE UP BECAUSE OF HIS OWN FEARS. gotta work on that one!!!!! gotta make sure he knows my determination and is on board with it.

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