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....

curiousuze Thu 27-Feb-14 07:49:37

I had a rubbish experience with my first baby where I was left for almost two days labouring alone behind a curtain in a hospital ward. DH was only allowed to be there during visiting hours. I would have loved a doula to have been there to help me. I wouldn't kick up a stink about it - a good doula won't exclude you and it could be really calming for your wife to have you both there.

WooWooOwl Thu 27-Feb-14 07:55:53

Let your wife explore the possibility of a doula, meet some and find out how they work etc, and if you come across as supportive of that then she might be more likely to see that you can be a good source of support for her.

Having a doula doesn't stop you from going to the ante natal classes and doing all the other things a soon to be Dad does, it's an addition to your support, not a replacement.

You need to talk to your wife and find out what her reasons are for wanting a doula. She might be worried about things you can reassure her on easily.

Could it be that she is worried you won't be able to speak up for her if she needs interventions because you say that you found it difficult to do that last time?

CMOTDibbler Thu 27-Feb-14 07:57:28

I had a doula - after repeated miscarriages, and a difficult pregnancy, I wanted someone who knew what she was doing, what I wanted and what DH wanted and could act as an advocate for us all.

When I went into labour 5 weeks early, she rubbed my back quietly for 5 hours, fetched hot water bottles, provided gentle guidance on trying different positions (when on continuous monitoring in bed) and allowed dh space to be there and supportive - but also to take breaks when it was all a bit much. She also provided care for me afterwards when ds had been whisked off to SCBU, and the midwives were too busy to make me a drink/ help me clean up etc.

DH was really happy she was there, and the best thing was that we'd had lots of time to talk with her beforehand, share our fears etc so she understood and took time to acknowledge that

TheScience Thu 27-Feb-14 08:00:22

Honestly, I think you should support your wife in what she wants.

Giving birth is one day that is all about her and not about you. It's one time when her needs and comfort should come first and she shouldn't have to worry about looking out for you too.

SoggyBottoms Thu 27-Feb-14 08:05:53

It's not a competition about who can provide the better care. Let your wife have what she needs.

Being supportive of her during labour doesn't just start in the labour ward: it starts right here, right now. You should support her choice .

peggyundercrackers Thu 27-Feb-14 08:11:08

I'm another who doesn't see the point in them. I think DP/Dh should provide the emotional support and do what he can at the time and the midwives/nurses do all the medical stuff - unless there isn't a partner about I don't see where there is a role for a doula.

43percentburnt Thu 27-Feb-14 08:12:40

I also recommend hypnobirthing with a lady who can act as a doula. Our hypnobirthing lady showed my dh exactly how to support me. Including breathing techniques, which we practised together. Positions he could support me in etc. I was determined to have a natural birth after a previous csection. The hypnobirthing enabled me to stay relaxed and my dh to feel confident to support my choices and ensure that any medical procedure they suggested was absolutely necessary not just because it was more convenient for the medical team. (Ie constant monitoring/stretch and sweeps/breaking my waters etc).

The first hospital told me we could not hypno birth or use a birthing pool. Together we found a hospital that supported our choices and I went there fully believing that they would support us and trusting they would only suggest necessary intervention. having hypnobirthing classes certainly increased our knowledge and confidence.

43percentburnt Thu 27-Feb-14 08:17:31

A good doula will show you how to be actively involved, she will advocate for you, whilst you support your wife. She won't take over. I considered one initially ( she wasn't available) not because my dh isn't supportive but as an advocate so my dh could be with me at all times and we wouldn't be pressurised when I was vulnerable. Find a doula together, meet her together and you will be supporting your wife.

CaterpillarCara Thu 27-Feb-14 08:19:12

Yes, tell her how you really feel. But do it in a way to make her understand that you are fearful, concerned, and want to do the right thing by her and that you don't yet understand how you and the doula will complement each other. LISTEN as you do it. It sounds like your wife is fearful, concerned, and wants to do the right thing too. Do not say anything in an attempt to change her mind, do it in an attempt to understand each other and move forward together.

nilbyname Thu 27-Feb-14 08:24:41

I'm so sorry for your loss, how horrific for you.

My fist brith was traumatic, my DS almost died as did I. My husband and I were both very fragile after it and when getting pregnant for a second time we were frightened.

We sought out a private hypno birthing councillor who not only counselled us through put past experience, gave us the tools to have a positive birth with dd.

I agree with those who have also said the doula should be there to support you both, take an active role in this choice and make it work for both of you.

bellasuewow Thu 27-Feb-14 08:26:20

So sorry for your loss op that sounds very traumatic, is this really about the doula or a fear of a repeat of what must have been the worst time ever for you. It sounds like you need some support and definitely some support to get through another birth situation which is totally understandable. I would fess up to your dw about your feelings re the doula, a good doula that you are comfortable with may be able to support the both of you best of luck with it all

ditsygal Thu 27-Feb-14 08:28:29

I would meet the doula and see what you think of her. If it is just you and the doula as birth partners no one is ever going to make you leave the room no matter what, and the doula will be able to assist you in supporting your wife - show you the best massages etc.

I had a doula and my husband would definitely recommend it to anyone. It didn't make his surplus to requirement - far from it, but there were times when he stepped back ( and in a 40 hour labour I think that was neccesary for him!) and said it was amazing to see 2 women working together through the labour - in a way that seems completely natural.
It also allowed him to relax about us staying at home longer as I think he would have worried and rushed me into hospital when I was perfectly comfortable at home and the doula knew when the right time to call the midwife was.

I also think a doula actually makes midwives take your wishes more seriously - so if there are certain things she does or doesn't want in the birth it can really help to have a doula there to represent you.

As you can see I am very pro doula - i think every woman should have one if possible. But it doesn't make the partner any less important. I couldn't have gone through labour without knowing my husband was there with me. Yes the doula could provide practical and emotional support, but I needed the one person who loves me most to be there too.

I remember the doula saying that 80% of her role was being there to support the dad. It can be a scary time in labour and a doula will make sure it doesn't seem that way and guide you through it.

ZingSweetMango Thu 27-Feb-14 08:32:59

I'm torn.

I see your POW and I personally would not want my husband to be absent.
I can not imagine anybody who would be able to support me better emotionally or "protecting" me.
And I no nothing about doulas, I had all of mine in hospital so there was at least one MW in the room and when I had to have a foreceps delivery and there were 4 HCPs in the room DH still stayed.
my understanding is that doulas are present at homebirths.

but. she is giving birth. and if she decides she chooses doula over you I'm sorry but her wish matters more than yours.
It's not nice for you and believe me I am not a feminist rights warrior, but I have had 6 children and I know what I want and it would be very unsettling for me to think I can't have what I want because I'm guilted into pleasing somebody else.

I'm hoping I'm not offending you, but it's her choice and you must respect her wishes. it really isn't about rights or wrongs.
it's a personal choice and she is the one going through it physically, so please please give her room to choose freely, don't make her feel guilty and support her fully.
you never know, she could change her mind.

meet the doula and have a positive attitude.
I wish you all the best

oif Thu 27-Feb-14 08:38:18

I had a doula for my second after a bad first birth experience.

A good doula will make sure you are both involved in the way you want to be, she will be as much for you as for your wife.

My doula sat quietly in the background whilst DP was next to me. She was not intrusive in any way. I believe she is the key reason I had a really good birth experience. The work we did beforehand talking about my fears was invaluable, and she just managed to bring calm to the whole experience, encouraging me to trust myself and ensuring we didn't have to worry about any niggly admin things and could just focus on ourselves and baby.

Suicidal5833 Thu 27-Feb-14 08:42:11

My twopeneth firstly I'm very sorry about your previous experience that must of been very traumatic. I just wanted to say that with or without a doula you may still feel shut out. I've had three kids and while dh was present at all three births I wouldn't let him touch me in any way shape or form while I was in labour. Let her have the doula but make sure it's one you both like and agree to a doula as I understand it is there to support the dad as well and with your past maybe you will be grateful for her when the time comes.

Jess03 Thu 27-Feb-14 08:47:59

I think they're different to the support you can provide and they can support you both. The birth may be traumatic for you, especially as you may panic based on your previous experience if your wife suddenly needs a c section etc. they can clue you in on what's happening. The mws etc are over worked on the nhs, they don't always have time to explain things well or check as often as they should.
I could see it could be comforting to both of you to have someone that works for you who's seen 100s of births.

Seff Thu 27-Feb-14 08:49:07

I didn't have a doula at my first birth, but I did have my mum there with my husband and I. And she did help my husband as much as she did me, possibly more.

Birth trauma in men is quite common, and I can understand why you feel threatened by the presence of someone else there. But I think having someone there, someone not related, could be good for both of you.

I agree with other posters, choose a doula together, someone who will support both of you, and is willing to discuss things beforehand.

coco44 Thu 27-Feb-14 08:55:28

Many hospitals will only let you have one birthing partner

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 27-Feb-14 08:55:42

I had a doula. My husband was very glad I did.

From the beginning, it was never in doubt that my husband was my primary birth partner, and my doula was there to support us both. Tbh, a good doula will assume this is the case and only take the main supporting role if asked to.

During my labour, my doula supported me, but only in addition to my husband, never instead of. In fact, at one point, I felt too crowded and everyone left the room, except my husband.

The midwives were great, but they were really focused on the job of keeping me and the baby safe. My Doula was able to help my husband with the practical tasks (filling birth pool, sorting food and drink etc) and was there as well as a sounding board for him - he found this really useful.

Then at the end, it all went a bit wrong and I was whisked off in an ambulance. My husband would have been left on his own because the midwife had to come with me, but he had the doula with him. They came to the hospital together and he says he was very grateful for having that support, because he was seriously panicking!

Then when it had all calmed down, my doula gave us both a hug and left us to bond with our baby. It was great.

Honestly, she is there for you too. Meet with the doulas, talk to them about their role and you, and find one you are both happy with.

Fecklessdizzy Thu 27-Feb-14 09:08:24

Your first time sounds completely hellish for both of you so I'm not surprised that you're rather dreading this one, but as people have said up-thread, it really is all about your wife and what she needs to make her feel more confidant.

I've had two, both induced, both got stuck and needed forceps. Both times my birth plan consisted of - go in, have baby, go home with baby - and to be honest I didn't want whale music or birthing pools or a roomfull of my nearest and dearest urging me on. DP was only there as I couldn't think of a tactfull way to tell him I'd rather he wasn't!

I'm not sure what doulas actually do that midwives don't but if your wife would feel better having one then if I was you I'd bite the bullet and go along smiling. After all, it's only a few hours of sweat and cursing and then you've got years and years to get to know your son or daughter!

Good luck.

justmatureenough2bdad Thu 27-Feb-14 09:09:38

hi there...sorry for your loss...it's something that really kicks you in the head and keeps kicking!

for what it's worth, i was there right through DWs first labour, intra-partum stillbirth and delivery...and i felt like i was utterly, utterly useless, helpless and that I had let DW down - grief (and associated guilt, remorse, feelings of uselessness etc)...its worth pursuing therapy for this (from a therapy-sceptic)

that said, you have to decide whether supporting your partner includes supporting her wishes, or just the event itself. personally, i would probably have similar feelings to you in the same situation, but on balance, if that was what she felt she needed for labour, then so be it, and I would fit in where needed.

I do understand the sentiments "her body, her decision", i really do, but I don't think it's ever that clear-cut. the body inside is part of both partners and both should have a say in the birth process (please note i don't state an equal say, but it is also quite selfish to imply that a father has no rights with regard to the birth)

I realise that this has been a bit of a rambly post, but hey ho...heres something to think about...it would seem that you can train the be a doula on 2-5 day residential courses...could you do that OP? hwo woudl your DP feel about that?

ContentedSidewinder Thu 27-Feb-14 09:28:08

I am very sorry for your loss.

I had a difficult first labour, and to be honest in an ideal world we would all have one to one with a midwife who was looking after only one person at a time. But that is rarely the case. So you are left to labour alone for a lot of the time.

I was fortunate that due to some major complications and so intensive monitoring I had a midwife with me pretty much the entire 7 hours I was in the hospital.

A consultant was called in, saw me for two minutes and made decisions without talking to me, in fact he talked about me like I wasn't there. My midwife was able to fight our corner, Dh and I were physically exhausted, I had been in labour for over 24 hours and it was good to have someone on our side not what was best for the hospital and their budget etc.

My Dh was there to support me emotionally, but he isn't a midwife and although we were very prepared you can't prepare for everything. To be honest, without the midwife I don't think I would have gone on to have another child. So when I was hallucinating due to the pain and I was having weird conversations with myself, Dh wasn't frightened because the midwife had seen this 100 times, Dh had not, and she was able to reassure him.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Thu 27-Feb-14 09:38:58

Maybe just start with meeting the doula and talking to her?

In fact I think we met with three doulas before we picked one (and then ended up going it alone because i went into labour a month early!)

Burren Thu 27-Feb-14 10:01:45

Honestly, OP, you need to come to terms with the horrible experience of the death of your child with your ex-partner. This isn't about having a doula, this is about your trauma and bereavement becoming mixed up with you having felt sidelined and having been excluded during the birth, and feeling powerless in an appalling situation where nothing you could have done would have helped. Of course you might have felt less helpless had you been present. You're clearly casting the doula in this birth in the role of the aunts at the last birth, and this is why you are panicking about potentially being excluded again.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Think about what you can do (counselling?) between now and the birth to let go of your understandable fears. And do meet some potential doulas along with your wife. I didn't use one, but I think you'll find that, unlike relatives, they are professionals who are experienced in tactfully supporting both parents, and not pushing anyone out.

drivenfromdistraction Thu 27-Feb-14 10:17:39

Sorry for your loss.

I had a doula for all 3 of my births. It was a joint decision with my husband - we interviewed several together, and both agreed (very strongly) on which one felt right for us. We had two different doulas (due to moving to a different area before DC3)

The doula was there to support both of us - i.e. she was helping my DH support me, as well as helping me directly. Their training is all about being calm and non-intrusive. It's extremely different from a midwife's/doctor's role, and also IMO very different from the DP's role.

Throughout each birth, my DH was right beside me, I was holding his hand, talking to him, it was totally about the two of us. My doula was a little further back, outside my field of vision. She just stepped forwards at particular moments - for example, to suggest I changed position at a crucial point, or to point out to DH that the tube on my gas & air had come disconnected. I think DH communicated with her more than I did.

With DC1, I had a rather unpleasant, aggressive midwife, and the doula was brilliant at mediating between me and her. DH could have done that, but it would have turned into an us vs her situation, and it would have pulled his attention away from me.

Also, I really wanted DH to be looking after the baby after the birth - while I had my shower (and, with DC3, while I delivered the placenta which took quite a long time and was unpleasant, for medical reasons). The doula was able to give me the attention I needed while he did that.

My labours were quite short, but if they'd been longer, I would have appreciated the fact that the doula and DH could swap in and out to give DH a break / chance to eat etc.

It was also really useful having the doula's visits beforehand where we could all (me, DH and her) talk about our expectations, what might happen, what we'd want to do in particular situations etc.

And the doula was 100% responsible for getting breastfeeding working with DC1. DH was as clueless as me about that, and the midwives didn't have time. Without the doula, we'd never have got that crucial first feed to work.

A big part of what the doula does is to create a calm, comfortable atmosphere. And both mine did that just by being there. Not by being intrusive or busybodyish. They just emanated an 'it's all going to be fine' air, which allowed me to relax and let the hormones do their job to make the birth as easy as possible. I think it kept DH relaxed as well - he could see that the doula was calm, and therefore didn't feel that there was anything to panic about, so he could be calm.

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