Bringing a child into the world is quite a feat! It deserves respect, and much of my job as a doula is to help with whatever is needed to make that happen. My job is bigger, though- I care about the entire family thriving.
So I’m taking a moment today to talk to partners about how doulas can help the entire family bond.
Most of the couples that I work with are in this pregnancy thing together. You’ve been through the classes, read the books, and often even interview me as a pair.
But if it still seems overwhelming to figure out where you fit in, if you’re not giving birth, you’re not alone. All that preparation doesn’t erase that you’re having your own experience of becoming a parent (again).
So here’s how we can work together when I’m your doula:
You’ve learned all the plays before the big day, and I help you figure out which ones to put in play, and cheer you on when you run them. (I really hope that metaphor worked. I’m not big on the sports.)
I’ll remind you about positions you’ve practiced, what tools might be helpful, and encourage you to communicate. And I point out positive moments for everyone as you move through labor.
This same approach continues once baby is here. As a postpartum doula, I’m working to build both parents’ confidence, in themselves, and one another. I can show you diaper changing tricks, and how to bond with your baby even when his or her mother is building a breastfeeding relationship.
Labor and newborn care are usually tough for everyone in the room. Physically supporting someone through contractions, helping her into positions, coaching her through breathing and staying up all night, while not giving birth, is demanding. So are nights with less sleep and learning new skills to soothe a baby.
At a birth, I keep a mental note of when everyone has last eaten and slept. I can send you out for a walk, or go and get you a sandwich.
During postpartum, overnight shifts are all about helping everyone get into good habits and preventing sleep deprivation. If you want to share the load, I support you, and I want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, so you can keep at it.
The beauty of having someone involved in the process, but not emotionally invested in the same way, is that I’m there to notice things you might otherwise miss.
During labor and birth, I see when you’re exhausted, but find a way to stay present and show up for your wife. Or during a tough pregnancy, I can listen to your pain when your girlfriend’s morning sickness lasts all day and is debilitating. I see you trying to connect with the mother of your child in her new identity when suddenly everything seems different.
Did having a doula benefit you, even though you weren’t giving birth? How have you seen partners and doulas work together? Talk to us in the comments!