Dads & Doulas - Do Doulas Replace Dads?

Absolutely not! Fathers are often able to participate more fully with a doula present. The top two fears that most fathers have surrounding pregnancy and birth are the worry about the safety of his unborn child and his partner. Much of that fear is gone when a doula is present because she can provide informational support about the labor as it progresses, and her calming influence allows the father to give the love and support that his partner needs to feel.

At times a father may not understand a woman's instinctive behavior during childbirth and may react anxiously to what a doula knows to be the normal process of birth. He may witness his partner in pain and understandably become distressed. The doula can be a reassuring presence. The father-to-be may need to accompany his partner during surgery, should a cesarean become necessary. Not all fathers can realistically be expected to "coach" at this intense level.

Physicians, midwives, and nurses are responsible for monitoring labor, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby, and treating complications when they arise. But childbirth is also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman's personal well-being. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience throughout their lives. By "mothering the mother" during childbirth, the doula supports the parents in having a positive birth experience.

The father's presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child; and his need to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at her birth, a mother can have the best of both worlds: her partner's loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance in childbirth. The presence of a doula complements a father's role and strengthens it. A doula often can give suggestions and encourage the father to touch, to talk, and to help in ways that feel truly comfortable to him and comforting to the mother.

Fathers, with the support of the doula, are able to participate at any level that feels right and natural for them. In this way, fathers can experience fully the joy and wonder of watching their babies come into the world. Fathers don't have to have the contents of every birth book memorized and aren't expected to recall every comfort technique from childbirth education classes.

I work with fathers at whatever level feels comfortable for you, for you as a couple. I tailor my approach to you.

"Having a doula allowed me to enter the whole birth process more relaxed which made me more helpful and supportive."

- C.F

back to top

What Does a Dad/Doula Partnership Look Like During Labor?

Early Labor at Home:

I can stay with the mother while you take care of last minute necessities, i.e., phoning friends, the hospital, and relatives, arranging childcare for siblings. If you need to get gas for the car, pack the hospital bag, etc., I am available to stay and comfort the laboring woman.

I check in with both father and mother to make sure you are both eating and drinking well. One of us can fix light snacks while the other provides support.

If mother wants to walk around the house or neighborhood, either you or I can attend the mother while the other answers the phone or watches siblings.

"The hospital should assign a doula along with one's nurses, doctors or midwives."

- J.L.

back to top

At the Birth Center or Hospital:

Upon check in, both mother and father will have questions to answer and sometimes paperwork to fill out. While this is happening, I can find necessary items like ice, extra pillows and blankets, and birth balls. I can locate the microwave and vending machines and pay phones. I can also set up the room, bringing in a rocking chair, turning on music, turning down lights and bringing scents into the room.

If procedures or interventions are suggested, I can remind you of your options and alternatives. I offer information so you and the laboring woman can make informed decisions together.

I can take a photo journal of the birth and include both of you throughout labor and after birth.

"My husband froze. Lynn didn't."

- J.P.

back to top

Active Labor, Transition, and Pushing:

You and I can relieve each other for eating, bathroom breaks, etc so that the laboring woman is never left alone in labor. I can help preserve a peaceful, private environment for the you both. If family and friends are attending the birth, I can help organize the group so everyone has tasks appropriate for them.

You will often provide the very close, physical support during the labor. If the labor journey calls for strong counter pressure or other physical relief, that can be wonderful role for us to share.

During pushing, I may be talking the mother through each contraction, allowing him to watch the birth of his baby while holding the laboring woman's hand or leg.

"Thank you for all of your assistance. You were a big part of our extremely positive birth experience. Your support was integral in helping [my wife] have her most-wanted VBAC."

- J.D.

back to top

Cesarean Births

Immediately after the birth, I can stay with the mother while the incision is repaired. This allows you to be with the newborn while s/he is taken to the warming area for procedures, should you choose them.

"I encourage c-section moms to get themselves doula support - they may need it more than anyone else."

- A.Z.

back to top

After the Birth

I typically stays until the mother and baby are stable and the baby is breastfeeding well. I can take photographs of the new family, can arrange for cord blood pick up and make phone calls. I can update family waiting in the waiting room, as well as talk to them about the birth, buying quiet time for the new parents and baby, if that is your wish. I usually leave when everything is calm or when family begins to come in. Typically, I stay up to two hours after a birth.

"Your support was fantastic. It let me focus on ways I could help comfort [my wife]. I think that I would have been overwhelmed otherwise."

- L.F.

back to top

If you have questions or would like to check my availability, please contact me!

Lynn Christensen, CD
(DONA), LCCE (Lamaze)
Tenafly, New Jersey