Hiring a Doula: A Husband’s Perspective
July 5, 2009
BY ED REESE
This guest post was written by my husband Ed Reese and it represents his views and opinions.
I was struck by Cara’s Wright’s comments in last Friday’s blog post about the reservations fathers-to-be have abouthiring a doula. As a husband that had doubts about it myself, I thought I’d share my experience and hope you find it helpful. In my opinion, men’s resistance to hiring a doula comes from three factors.
Money, Privacy, and Control
We don’t like paying extra. We also know childbirth is very expensive. To many fathers-to-be, a doula just isn’t needed. It’s the equivalent of buying the warranty—and we never get the warranty. You want someone to come with us to the hospital on this special day? Someone crashing our private family moment? Someone telling us what to do? Cara is right, many husbands don’t want to pay for that lack of privacy and control.
We hired my wife Tine’s prenatal yoga instructor Katie Louderback as our doula. In addition to being experienced and knowledgable about the childbirth process, she made us feel immediately at ease. I didn’t realize how much time we would actually spend together prior to delivery. I enjoyed taking time to get to know her, ask questions and learn more about what was ahead of us at our own pace.
False Alarms – The Importance of Experience
About a week before Tine’s due date we were at a restaurant with some good friends. Toward the end of the meal Tine started having contractions. As I was prepping the car for a hasty get-a-way to the hospital she called Katie to talk about what she was feeling. Katie quickly determined that it wasn’t time yet. Sure enough, the contractions stopped after about an hour and we were able to spend one last Saturday night playing cards with our friends before Mac was born. Her insight kept us from going to the hospital too soon.
What Do Father’s-To-Be Have To Offer, Anyway?
Here’s what’s crazy to me: we are expected to somehow support you with no real-world experience whatsoever. We don’t have a baseline as to what’s normal. We don’t know what expressions to look for in your face to know it’s go-time. We don’t know what danger signs to look for, either. It’s not realistic to expect us to do much more than hold your hand, offer encouragement, and say we love you. Then again, maybe that is exactly what our role should be and no more. Beyond that, we’ve got zilch, nada, nunca.
Game Day – The Real Importance of Experience and Support
The contractions came early on the morning of the 31st. After timing them and feeling pretty confident that this was in fact D-Day, she called Katie to get consensus. Yep, this sounded legit. So Katie came over and stayed with us for most of the day. It was much more relaxing for both of us with her there. She had assisted with dozens of births and we were confident in her guiding us through it all.
At 3pm Katie looked at Tine and said it was probably time we head to the hospital. Without a doula, we would’ve left hours earlier and likely been turned away, which could’ve stalled her labor. As it was, Tine was only three centimeters dilated when we arrived and they nearly sent us packing. However, Katie talked to the hospital staff and confidently let them know that it was in her best interest to stay. This was the first of many times that Katie stepped up and worked with the hospital staff on our behalf. This was so incredibly valuable!
As I mentioned before, we men have no baseline for normal. A doula does. Without that experience, it would’ve been tough to question a doctor, nurse, or other hospital staff regarding decisions about the delivery. We were able to make several requests (with Katie’s help) that made labor and delivery more comfortable for Tine, and ultimately helped her achieve a natural birth. It also took a huge weight off of my shoulders. I was able to and offer love and support to my wife without worrying about other details because Katie had them covered. I know hiring a doula might be considered “extra,” but I highly recommend taking that step. It’s well worth it.