Should I tell her how I really feel about her doula?

(73 Posts)
NotQuiteSuperman Thu 27-Feb-14 06:21:44

I had to look it up (http://doula.org.uk in case you didn't know either)

Now, I realise I'm a man entering the arena of women while waving a banner that says "It's about me", and admitting that my wife's choice to have a professional birthing partner with us makes me feel emasculated isn't going to be seen as cute in anyone's eyes... but if I may state my case?

Three years ago my previous partner went into premature labour. Both her aunts were in the room and went things got hectic, the doctors told her there were too many people in the room and someone had to go. I don't know if it was me being polite or her aunts being overbearing or, the simple fact that she didn't want me there, I stepped outside.

For 12 hours. It was horrific for her, the baby was dead, and I did nothing. This sort of thing makes a man feel pretty useless, I can tell you.

I'm now happily married to a brilliant woman, she's now five-months pregnant and we're as over the soon as can be. But it's her first child, and at 38, she's read and heard enough scare stories about women in labour (some, alas, from me) that she's now thinking of hiring a doula.

She can tell I'm uncomfortable with the idea and wants me to meet the doula so we can be a team working towards the same goal of making my wife feel supported, but between you and me, I can't stand the idea.

The doula is a professional - by definition she'll be better at supporting her than I can be. I wish I didn't feel so threatened by her. I wish I wasn't in this horribly selfish catch 22 where I'll feel sidelined if the doula is there, and feel like it's my fault if the doula isn't there and my wife suffers.

God, I could do with some advice....

tigermoll Thu 27-Feb-14 06:26:41

So, rather than a doula, who would you feel more comfortable assisting your wife (assuming you don't just want it to be you and your wife in the room) I think it's fair enough to want to play an active and informed role in your child's birth, but that means spending time now to get a plan together of how that might go, and learning any additional skills you might need.

Ilovexmastime Thu 27-Feb-14 06:32:18

My advice is to let your wife have the doula if that's what she wants. You seem to be worried that she will support your wife better than you, but I wouldn't view it like that, I would view it as she will support your wife as well as you. Honestly, in terms of support, just be there for your wife to hold on to, that's all my DH really did. While I was looked after by the midwifes, doctors, anaesthetists... he was there for me the whole time, holding my hand, and it's that that I remembered most, that we (kind of) went through it all together.

MikeLitoris Thu 27-Feb-14 06:32:32

Meet the doula and explain that you want an active role in the labour. Her job is to support your DW and you in having the birth you want. She isn't there to take over.

To be warned though that some women don't want their birth partner (spouse or not) actually do anything. I needed my do to sit next to me quietly. I wouldn't have appreciated him trying to coach me with motivational sayings or mopping my brow.

estya Thu 27-Feb-14 06:32:59

It sounds like you would both feel more reassurance about the process with a doula around.
But you should choose the doula together. Not just 'meet her'. If either of you don't click with her, she's not the doula for you.

Home birth then?

Tbh I don't see the point. People who like them wil expound their virtues. I just don't see the need unless there's no partner at all.

If it's hospital then it's really unnecessary. Room will be crowded enough!

MikeLitoris Thu 27-Feb-14 06:34:08

My dp that should say. Not Do.

Rosieliveson Thu 27-Feb-14 06:39:13

I feel similar to Mike. During labour I wanted my husband there to provide emotional support, to hold my hand and feel excited with me.
I relied on the medical professionals to coach me etc.
I'm not sure how a doula works exactly but could you make it clear that you want her there as a rather than as emotional support?

I'm also so sorry about what you've been through in the lady and wish you and your wife luck this time around.

MinesAPintOfTea Thu 27-Feb-14 06:39:21

Well I don't see the point in them. But you can discuss who would stay with your wife at all times if doctors want people out of the room and history doesn't have to repeat.

But when dh tried encouragement I hit him. I didn't want him to help, just be present and on my side.

spritesoright Thu 27-Feb-14 06:43:27

I don't really understand the point of Douglas either but it might be worth speaking further with your partner about why she really wants a doula.
Maybe she also wants to make things easier for you given your earlier traumatic experience. But I think it's fair for you to express your concerns about being pushed out as well.
I honestly think that while labour was more difficult for me physically, emotionally it was harder on DH and he probably could have used some support.

spritesoright Thu 27-Feb-14 06:44:02

Not 'Douglas', doulas obviously.

KepekCrumbs Thu 27-Feb-14 06:44:13

I'm so sorry for your loss- it must have been terribly painful.

I think you need to meet the doula and talk to her about what happened and how it left you feeling. And at the same time, listen to your wife's fears. With a good doula and a loving relationship between your wife and you, hopefully the doula will work towards everyone's best interests. Communication is the key.

LordPalmerston Thu 27-Feb-14 06:45:29

I'm interested so few of you know what one is. In the early days of mn they were quite the thing.
Op so sorry about your baby.

hazchem Thu 27-Feb-14 06:48:02

YABU your wife is giving birth she gets to choose who attends her. She gets to decide how she does it. She has complete autonomy over her body. Giving birth is a physical act and she is allowed to make the decisions about how she does that. You have to deal with that.

I think you should talk to someone about your previous birth experience. It sounds really hard and I can imagine that you are still grieving.
You also need to be open and honest about how you feel with your wife you need to talk though everything so both of you are on the same page. Workign though a really detailed birth paln and exploring and discussing those options might help.

Specifically stop thinking about the doula taking away and instead thing of what she will bring. She will reduce the likely hood of need pain relief by 50% she will reduce the likelihood of a c Section too. She will work with your wife and go to support the pregnancy, birth and post natal period. a good doula should be bale to step back as well as step forward. For example she might step back to give you the space to hold your wife while she pushes. She might suggest a new massage technique for you to do.

Jaynebxl Thu 27-Feb-14 06:48:47

Are you guys planning a home birth then? Just the two of you and the doula? Just trying to get rhw picture.

TribbleWithoutATardis Thu 27-Feb-14 06:49:23

I had a doula present at both my births, different women each time and they were both utterly fantastic. I got them in order so I could feel safe in the knowledge that my dh had someone there who was able to be calm and be detached from the process, but who was there for us. You said the Aunts were overbearing and you felt useless, a doula isn't there for their own needs. They are there for you and your wife.

I'm sorry your previous partners birth was so traumatic for all involved, I'm sorry you felt pushed out as well. I would encourage you to at least meet the doula and to see what you think, you may find yourself presently surprised.

Inertia Thu 27-Feb-14 06:55:11

I'm sorry about the loss of your baby with your previous partner - nothing is more devastating than the loss of your child. May I ask whether you received any counselling to help you with this ?

Discussing this with your wife now that she is pregnant is unlikely to be helping her. We all understand that there are risks , but increasing her anxiety by recounting scare stories is not going to help. Your fears are totally understandable but you need to talk about them with a health professional.

A doula is not there to steal your birth-partner thunder. She is there to provide practical, experience-based support with things like breathing techniques and positioning. To be honest , if there is a medical emergency then both you and the doula would have to step back and let the medical team take over. But please allow your wife to have the support she needs without making it about you.

As others have said, I needed my DH with me to provide me with emotional not practical support. Had he started giving me instructions I would probably have yelled at him. He held my hand, told me when he could see dd's head, and cried with me when she arrived. It was a wonderful bonding experience. The midwives did the best.

It sounds like your wife needs the doula to feel in control. Birth is fairly frightening first time. Support her, she doesn't need conflicting emotions right now.

HermioneWeasley Thu 27-Feb-14 06:59:33

I have been a birth partner twice and I can safely say giving birth is only about the woman and what she needs. If you make it in any way about you, you might stress her out and make the birth longer/more painful/more likely to need intervention etc.

What does she think a doula will provide that you can't?

Have you discussed what sort of birth she wants and what she wants from you? Does she want you there?

The midwives did the rest not best!

MiaowTheCat Thu 27-Feb-14 07:26:10

One thing I'll say, leaving the doula issue aside...

I had an awful birth with DD1 - prem labour, awfully treated, terrified and in pain and DH sat in a corner complaining he was tired and playing chess on his phone. He didn't stick up for me, defend me or anything and I hated hated hated him for it so much. It took a lot of effort for the pair of us to move past it - he had to admit how terrified and useless he felt and I had to forgive him for letting me down that time.

I got pregnant again fairly quickly afterwards with DD2 - and we did another lot of talking about how to deal with things - at one point I was going to go it alone because I didn't want him to sit there and let me down again. But he was a different person by then, I was a different person by then and he didn't half step it up and be a gem, there emotionally for me as well as being a person in the corner of the room, throughout. OK, so he might have struggled a bit with the physical presence in that the labour when it happened was so fast he was almost outside the room making a quick phonecall to keep work updated when the midwife basically grabbed him by the scruff of his neck to get in there quick or he was going to miss it... but that's forgiveable since 10 minute long active labours are a bit unusual.

Basically I think you all need to sit down together, you, wife and the prospective doula and discuss it from EVERYONE'S perspective how it makes you all feel and what you all need from it. I know lots on here will make a big thing about your wife being the centre of it all - and yep, she is, but I know DH had a heck of a lot of baggage and scars from what he went through (he had to see all the resuscitation going on and the like - I didn't have much of a view of anything pinned to the bed) and we both had to work through it all - not just me and not just him.

DoItTooJulia Thu 27-Feb-14 07:36:21

I don't want to be harsh, but it isn't a competition to see who is more helpful as a birth partner.

I had my mum and my DH at my births. My mum was more practically helpful, telling me that the waters were clear, for example, when the midwife broke them. My DH however, did not move from my side, passing me gas and air or water depending on what I needed.

Their help was different, but I'm so glad I had them both and I didn't worry about DHs nose being out of joint. In fact I think he was great full to share the load!

Try and talk to your wife and her doula and articulate how you feel.

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Feb-14 07:36:37

I had never heard of a doula before MN, I thought it was another one of those things that only exist on here... Is it just another word for a birth partner? Are they qualified midwives but working privately for individuals?

OP - I hope you can reach a solution where you are both happy and which includes you being involved in the birth.

soapnuts Thu 27-Feb-14 07:42:51

I wanted a doula for DS1 and didn't because (usually totally supportive) DH didn't want one. He didnt know how he would react (and neither do you - your last experience is different in so many ways.) and a lot of decisions were made that i didnt want because nobody stuck to their guns for me. With DS2 I hired a doula then we had to move late in pregnancy and I couldn't have her - even worse than 1st birth.
Let her have the doula - it's her body that is labouring and her who knows what she needs. What's the worst that can happen? She decides she doesn't need her and she sends the doula out? She's a buffer for both of you and an advocate who has more experience than either of you and, most importantly, she's not emotionally involved. She can be impartial and a help to both of you. If that's what your DP wants, let her have it and maybe you can try and find a way to let her help you too.

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Thu 27-Feb-14 07:46:58

Sorry for you loss. I would suggest hypnobirthing and perhaps a few hypnotherapy sessions with a hypnotherapist specialising in childbirth for yourself to help with your fear. You can also get hypnobirthing doulas. As others have said a good fouls will support you both, not try to be the star of the show. Part of hypnobirthing is teaching how the partner can be actively supportive at the birth, the opposite of your previous experience. Good luck

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