A few days ago I had the pleasure of following up with a family after their birth. I was their labor doula, had attended the birth, and this was my chance to see how they were doing after their first night at home, how things were going with sleep, nursing, and recovery with a newborn. This was also a chance to hear how she was feeling about the birth.
During follow ups I always check in with the mom about how her birth was for her, what she remembers and sometimes help put the timeline together for her. She, her partner, and I talk about favorite moments. I answer questions if she has any. And, I open myself to feedback.
Dads and Doulas Checkin
I also make it a point to check-in with Dad. It’s pretty common that we get asked by dad’s if we’ll take his place at the birth, or we have clients tell us their partner is worried the doula will take the dad’s place. While, as a profession, we focus on enhancing dad’s experience, and are trained to do so, I think a lot of partners don’t fully believe us- until we’re in the birth room.
So, I make the extra effort to follow up with dad to hear his story (when was the last time you asked a dad how the birth experience was for him?). I want to hear his feelings and experience, not just to improve my services, but more importantly for my clients to verbally and very intentionally understand that this was a shared experience; that both parents have perspective, and that perspective greatly weighs into their journey as a parent.
We sat down and started chatting. Within minutes she started talking about the birth. She loved her birth story, said it was better than she expected. Wow! I thought, “this is great, can’t get much better.” But it did. Then she said- “how you brought [my husband] and I closer together- not that he wasn’t doing a great job, but how you would show him little things to help me, that made such a difference. It really brought us closer together. Thank you.”
The Greatest Compliment
That. That is the greatest complement I can get as a doula. You see, doulas don’t come to your birth to get the credit. And, we certainly don’t want to take dad’s place. Our role is to enhance what he is doing, to let him in on the little secrets and tips that make labor more comfortable, to guide him in really being able to be present. Dads and doulas are a team working together to support mom. We aren’t showing him mind blowing things; usually dads are right there doing their best. Instead, we’re modeling calmness, things to say, offering assurance so he can set aside all those fears that are bubbling just under the surface. And we’re supporting him with water, encouraging snacks, breaks, sitting when possible. Because we know that he’s pulling from his reserves just as much as the mom.
So, Dads, when you ask us in interviews if we’re going to take your place. Trust, that we don’t want to. Instead, we want to make your place be the best possible we can, for the mom to remember you, and for you to remember how important you were during the birth of your baby.