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If you’re wondering “what is a doula?”, start here to learn more about the different types of doulas. In essence, a doula is a person trained to support parents through one or several chapters of the journey to parenthood. While there are several types of doulas from fertility to bereavement, the three main types of doulas are:
- Antenatal doulas help parents during pregnancy, especially high-risk pregnancies and/or those on bedrest
- Birth doulas help parents prepare for birth and support them continuously throughout the labor process
- Postpartum doulas assist parents after their baby arrives, usually in their home, by demonstrating newborn care techniques and helping with light household tasks
Some people hear about doulas and mistakenly believe that they are meant solely for single parents, or fear that they would take the place of the birthing parent’s partner. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Doulas support dads and partners in so many ways, and having a doula helps the whole family transition more smoothly to new parenthood. Read on to learn more about how doulas support partners.
Education + Resources
One of a doula’s main roles is to educate and empower new parents to make informed decisions. Doulas offer educational resources, evidence-based research, and practical advice to parents-to-be and new parents. Partners often feel overwhelmed with how much there is to know about becoming a parent, and doulas help them to find reputable educational resources.
Doulas are invaluable in answering the many questions that come with the journey to parenthood. Dads and partners have so much to learn about pregnancy, labor support, postpartum, and newborn care. Having a trusted, professional resource to go to is one of the most important ways how doulas support partners.
Dads and partners need emotional support, too! This one is obvious to anyone who has gone through it, but many people don’t realize how huge of an emotional journey parenthood is for partners. At different times they might feel excited, overwhelmed, nervous, elated, and so, so tired. Doulas support partners by offering reassurance that what they’re going through is normal. They’re also there to recognize signs of postpartum mood disorders in both partners, and can help dads and partners to get the professional support they need and deserve to feel well again.
During labor, the hospital staff’s primary job is to keep the birthing parent and baby safe. While some brief emotional support for the partner might be possible, it’s not at the top of the priority list for busy hospital staff. A doula is a guiding light for partners throughout the whole process, serving as a calm anchor during a highly emotional experience. When dads and partners have a doula to lean on, the weight of providing emotional support for the birthing parent isn’t completely on their shoulders.
Doulas provide a lot of physical support to birthing parents through massage, counterpressure, and various coping measures. Through this hands-on support, they lighten the load for partners. It’s really hard to rub someone’s back for hours on end! During a long labor, doulas and partners can trade off to give each other a break. Doulas also help partners remember to take care of themselves: to eat, drink, and rest during long labors. Without a doula’s support, many partners feel physically drained during the labor process, but many push through in an effort of solidarity with their partner in labor. This is a really exhausting way to enter new parenthood. With a doula’s support, partners can feel more energized and ready to take on the huge task of parenting a newborn and supporting their partner during the postpartum recovery phase.
Postpartum doulas support new dads and partners by demonstrating newborn care and soothing techniques, taking on light household tasks, and being with the baby and/or birthing parent while the partner rests. Raising a newborn without a support system is truly exhausting. Doulas are there to lighten the physical, mental, and emotional load for birthing parents and partners alike.
Doulas help partners transition smoothly to new parenthood
How doulas support partners depends completely on the unique family they are supporting. Doulas support partners through education, emotional support, and physical reprieve. They connect parents with reputable educational materials, community resources, and professional referrals. They offer steady emotional support throughout the whole journey to parenthood, giving parents a calm person to go to during the highs and lows of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. Demonstrating newborn soothing techniques, light meal prep, and household cleaning are other key ways how doulas support partners. Doulas understand 100% that the role of the partner cannot and is not ever meant to be replaced. Instead, they see their role as supporting the whole family unit together and know that when one member is struggling, all others struggle, too. When the whole family unit is supported, new families thrive together. Doulas help partners to be the best parent they can be!