When considering your birthing plan, make sure that your partner understands that doulas are not just for birthing mothers but for partners as well. Having the support of a doula during your birth can provide support to both of you, and doesn’t mean that they’re not important, or that you’re replacing them.
We asked expert doula and co-founder of Brooklyn-based Carriage House Birth, Samantha Huggins, to share her wisdom on how a doula can be a valuable resource for partners. Pass this article to your partner if they’re unsure about what a doula does, and how doulas and partners can work together to create the best possible birthing experience.
Here is why doulas are for your partners too!
Naturally, when a family is preparing for a new baby, we immediately center the pregnant person in all decisions surrounding the labor and early postpartum period. And rightly so. Their body, their choice. But there is a very important choice that is one to be shared. Hiring a doula. Here’s why.
There is a misconception that doulas are solely for the pregnant person or the early postpartum person replacing the need for a partner. Not so! Having a baby is an all hands on deck experience and doulas and partners can join forces to become the dream team that supports the pregnant person through this process. Because at the end of the day, you deserve to be held through this time too. And while yes, it is true that you did not have the baby, we are just as invested in your wellbeing. Why? Because after doulas go home and you leave the hospital, birth center or your medical team leaves your homebirth, it’s you, your partner and your children. And this new version of your family needs you to be as whole as you can be also.
But often partners aren’t very sure what a doula even does. And like with all things, if we don’t know what our choices are, then we have none. So, to all of the amazing partners of laboring people out there. I want to share with you how you can be held through the process of supporting your person as they become two (or more – I see you, twins or more fams!!!)
In a nutshell, every support person needs support, Doulas are there to support you so that you can support your partner to the best of your ability. We infuse your tired, undernourished, porous bones with resolve, confidence, nourishment and a touchstone.
This can mean many things. You may not know this, but you cannot give 100% of yourself to someone when you are operating at 15%. It’s just not possible. When you are exhausted, hungry, worried, unsure, excited, distracted, managing the rest of your family and social circle, it’s very hard to center someone else’s very real and immediate needs. Doulas are there to be sure that you are being fed, taking breaks, brushing your teeth, squeezing hips, offering nourishment, tapping out and tapping in at the right moments. And this is just the tip of it.
Whether you are working with a doula for just birth or the postpartum or hiring a doula to ride the whole ride with you, we meet you where you are with honesty, helping you to identify your strengths and then fill in the blanks. We make a plan and then hold space for every iteration of that plan, including the version where the plan goes right out the window. I like to call this moment “making lemonade”.
Here are some of the ways that your doula and you can be the best team ever.
You are vulnerable too in this space as you are born into your new role as a parent. Your doula is there to emotionally support you through this process. We know that you have a lot going on and a lot to think about in this space. Sometimes the best support you can offer the person who gave birth to your child or is in the process of doing so, is a little connectivity. Just getting your heads together, holding hands, maybe a few words can really get you guys centered and back on track. You can do that while your doula is managing the environment around you.
Class Is in Session
Want to know all the cool moves with carriers, wraps, bottles, labor tricks? Ask your doula. Whether it’s your first time on the parenting trail or your third, we want you to shine bright. And since we have been on this road many times with many families, we have the hacks, tips, and tricks to get you guys there with a clear understanding of why something works and when to give it a try. Most doulas understand that there are many paths to your goals, we look forward to honoring your process.
Be the Voice
We remind you to advocate for your family and help you to do that when you or we collectively think it’s applicable. This is key. In the thick of a what I like to call a ‘hurricane in a teacup’ moment, when everything is moving fast and you are totally feeling like a fish out of water, a doula can and will help to slow the moment down, ask questions, and remind you to get answers. Having a clear understanding of what is happening, why and whether or not this is the best method to tap into or if there is another way can be the difference in how you all ultimately end up feeling about the birth or early postpartum period. Shine on you crazy diamond.
As we said before, we are there to fill in the blanks. If you need a minute for some coffee, a friendly check in with a friend or family member, a bathroom break, your doula is there to hold space so that you can do that without worry. Trust me, your partner wants you to be fresh and bring new creative energy to the space. Pro tip: they also want you to brush your teeth on the way back in. Coffee breath is usually a hard no in the labor space.
You Be the Rock, We Will Be the Foundation
We hold space for you and your feelings too! Look, your partner and their body are going through a lot. A lot. And honestly, so is yours. Your psycho/emotional self is in rolling in high gear. You are witnessing this. You are expected to support this. We offer room for this and an emotional center for you to come back to. I have had more meaningful exchanges by looking honestly into a partner’s eyes than I can express and we are both always thankful at the end of those moments for the quick check-in.
In summary, doulas care for you the same way we care for pregnant people. When a doula agrees to work with your family, you are included as an equitable and valued member. So, go to the meet and greets, look for eye contact from the people you ask questions of (ask questions!!!), sit with your feelings about the doulas that are interviewed and offer input on who should be hired. WE are the support troops. TOGETHER.
Samantha is a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, doula trainer, CBC, parent and curriculum builder. As a founding member of Carriage House Birth, Samantha Huggins works vigilantly to redefine doula work and contemporary parenting. She oversees CHB Education focusing primarily on curriculum building, elevating doula professionalism, and training doulas. Samantha is deeply committed to this work and creating a model of care that is sustainable and works for all people.
Samantha is the mother of two, wife to one and friend to many.