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 ( 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

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'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 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.

marfisa Thu 27-Feb-14 10:19:48

I am sorry for the loss of your first child. sad

Doulas are wonderful and your wife absolutely should have one, but it has to be one both you and she feel comfortable with. Don't be afraid to have interviews with multiple people until you find someone you really 'click' with.

As others have said above, a doula (or any doula who is doing her job properly!) would never sideline or exclude a partner. Your roles are complementary but different. She can reassure your wife about the labour and childbirth process because she will have seen many, many births. You can provide emotional and psychological support to your wife because you know her intimately, you love her, and you created the child together. Quite simply, the two types of expertise are very different, and both are wonderful for the mother.

On a practical level, labour can last for hours and days and it will be comforting for your wife to have someone present when you need to slip away to go to the loo, get a cup of tea or even snatch a few hours' sleep.

My first child was born prematurely and my DH was out of the country at the time. It was a horrible experience (although the baby was fine in the end!) and for my second birth, I really really wanted a doula because I was frightened and wanted to feel more 'in control' of the whole birth experience. Our doula was great, she met with my DH and me together a couple of times before the birth and talked us through everything and we both felt a lot calmer about the impending birth because of it. My second DC was born premature as well but the experience was so much better given that I had my DH AND my doula there.

There is nothing to be scared of. Doulas are trained to respect the partner's feelings about the birth as well as the mother's (though of course the mother is the first priority!). Help your wife have the birth she wants with a doula (a GOOD doula you both like!) and that will be the best thing possible for both of you. Good luck!

ReadyToPopAndFresh Thu 27-Feb-14 10:22:34

I'm sorry for your loss, I really am. But two different women and two different scenarios.

Your wife wants a doula she should have one. You aren't giving birth, you don;t know what its like, you don't know the fear or lack of power some women feel. There is obviously a reason your wife thinks this is a good idea. and you need to respect it.

Your wife must realise how worried you are after what happened with your first child, and you must still be suffering with that loss (which I can see was made worse by being excluded and powerless) - I can imagine many people thinking a man should just get on with it afterwards which is rubbish. I agree with Burren above - please seek some support for yourself before your wife's due date.

Any good doula will want to hear what happened to you in the past and know that this is relevant to you and your wife now; this will help her to do her job, not hinder. I didn't have a doula as I wanted when DD2 was born and I regret it as it was fairly traumatic; my husband was asleep most of the time, he didn't stand up for me, he didn't know what to do when things went wrong. But I don't think you are planning on behaving like that so as others have said, the doula is not an issue but your previous bereavement is. I am so sorry for you and the baby you lost.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Thu 27-Feb-14 10:27:58

Also can I say the doula is really just your wife's advocate. You don't want to be the one arguing on her behalf. Dh was lovley in the room, but the truth is I ended up fighting my own corner with HCP (inn between bloody contractions) while he was basically a wreck.

I think because of your previous situation especially you might even have a risk of PTSD and I don't think you would be the best person for that job. Just be there for your wife and let the doula do the crappy bits she's trained for.

drivenfromdistraction Thu 27-Feb-14 10:37:28

Yes, I think doulas are very good at advocacy skills - helping the mother to get the type of birth she wants. Mine were good at questioning the midwives without sounding aggressive, reminding them of my wishes (e.g. about cutting cord/injections etc.) at points when I wasn't able to concentrate on that, and needed DH's attention on me not on the medical staff. I don't think DH would have been as good at that (because he's not seen the same number of births and wouldn't know what was normal or not and when to push for something and when not to) - but the doula couldn't have been as good at him at making me feel loved and supported. So having both is ideal.

Echocave Thu 27-Feb-14 10:42:41

I think the doula could actually be what you need OP as long as you talk to her and make sure you and your dw both understand what everyone's expecting from the arrangement. You can work with the doula to support yourself and if you feel a bit wobbly, there's someone there who's got lots of experience. Your dw might think birth understandably freaks you out and wants the doula for all three of you. I do find some of the 'her body, her choice' comments on here a bit aggressive. Yes it is in a way but it is their baby.

Divinity Thu 27-Feb-14 10:43:32

Has your wife interpreted your last experience and thought that you would prefer not to be in the room? Have another chat with your wife about why she wants a doula and tell her your thoughts on what you want to do. If you want to be there for her tell her.

If she wants a doula and you, then that's ok. Just make sure you are with her during the labour (and your wife knows you will be). Husband before doula yes?

Have you told your wife how you feel? This is the first step. She may be getting a doula so that YOU don't feel under pressure if things get difficult for you, considering your previous history.

Please talk to her. Explain your concerns, listen to her reason ing and go from there. If you can't discuss this then your problem is not the doula.

X post with Divinity

marfisa Thu 27-Feb-14 11:03:35

I agree with the above posters. Talk to your wife! In fact you could show her this thread.

As long as you make it clear to her that you have no desire to dictate to her about whether or not she has a doula, or make that decision for her - if my DH had tried to do that to me I would have gone bonkers.

But saying to your wife, "I love you and I want you to have the kind of birth you want. I just need to tell you that the thought of a doula makes me feel anxious for the following reasons" - is fine! If you don't express your anxieties, you won't be able to be reassured.

For what it's worth, I'm sure that if your first partner had had a doula at her birth, you would NOT have ended up being excluded from the room for 12 hours in that awful way. The doula would have been communicating with both your partner and you and kicking out the bloody aunts unless your partner was crystal clear that she wanted them there.

peacefuleasyfeeling Thu 27-Feb-14 11:17:24

I am so sorry for your loss.

Well done you for raising this already, when there is still so much time to find a solution that will please you both.

After a traumatic birth experience with DD1, after which DP suffered PTSD and developed severe depression and anxiety (from which he did eventually recover, with the help of therapy), we were very frightened (as well as thrilled) when we became pregnant again. I spent a lot of that pregnancy feeling really stressed and caught between a rock and a hard place; I didn't feel I could let myself lean on DP on account of his experiences during the birth of DD1, so wanted some other form of support, such as a doula. If I am really honest, part of me felt it would be easier not to have DP there at all sad. I also wanted to respect his most heartfelt wish to "do it right this time" (not that the previous traumatic events had anything to do with his conduct) and let him be the active and supportive partner he so wanted to be. He did not want a doula at all. I felt very alone and guilty, and really struggled with the idea of whether to go outright for putting my needs first or try to reach a compromise. It was a mess, and I feel like I "missed" so much the pleasure and joyful expectation of that pregnancy because of it.

In the end, our compromise did arrive, unexpectedly (and not in a way that you could emulate at will) in the shape of a trainee midwife who wanted to follow me through to term, having managed my caseload and pre-natal appointments, even though her practice would technically already have finished -she was basically attending our birth in her free time out of the goodness of her heart. The point is that she did fill the place of an informed, supportive, flexible, unintrusive other, and the relief for both DP and I was immense in the end. However, we did not make this arrangement until I was nearly 8 months pregnant and she plucked up the courage to ask if she could attend, and it was as a huge black cloud had lifted for me, and allowed me to really enjoy the last 6 weeks of pregnancy.

During the birth (which was a home birth) I felt best supported by DP doing practical stuff, keeping everything ticking along, making tea, chatting with the midwives, telling me I was a star etc, but I really didn't want him to touch me or hold my hand or coach me, but I think that is quite common.

There is so much good advice here. Could you share this thread with your wife as a starting point for a conversation? But please, don't let her feel guilty and suffer with uncertainty. Support her by letting her explore the options she wants without guilt.

perfectstorm Thu 27-Feb-14 11:18:19

I'm so sorry for your loss.

The thing is, we have a system where the midwives won't be personally known to your wife. She won't know what their views are, how compassionate they are, and won't have any familiarity at all, in a very vulnerable moment.

I needed my husband there in labour. But what I needed was for him to sit down, shut up, and let me focus on birth, and that's not uncommon when things go well. Your ex's aunts had no right or place to make you feel like you were redundant; it was your baby, not theirs, and you were closer to the mother than they were - their actions probably made things worse for the two people most central to the situation, and that was awful of them. But a doula is a professional, albeit less skilled/trained than a midwife, and part of her professionalism will be knowing your role is more significant than hers, and that you are an important element to the birth for both mother and baby. It's not an overbearing relative seeing "their baby" in the form of the mother suffering, and treating adult emotional ties as less significant - it's a skilled, knowledgable birth attendant who will be better informed than you or your wife, and not in the throes of labour, so she can advocate for what your wife seems to want/need, and actually also explain to you what's happening because she won't be physically intervening with the midwives' actions. A good doula is a woman-centred supplement to the medical team, not a replacement for a birth partner, let alone the father.

I actually had my mum there at my first birth as well as my husband, and it was just as well. My midwife was herself very pregnant and it was the middle of the (weekend) night, and so she was monitoring me via thermometer in the birthing pool without noticing that an oral temperature might be skewed a little if the patient was sucking ice cubes between contractions. There was a change of shift, and the new midwife panicked because the water in that pool was in the mid-40s. I'd been relying on very hot water and gas and air for pain relief, and nobody had noticed how hot it had got. A baby born into that would be in a lot of trouble - 36/37 is the recommended top temperature and most adults would find mid-40s scalding hot. She tried to get me to get out, but I was in transition, off my head on gas and air and one continuous contraction by then. So she got more aggressive and shouty from panic, at which point my husband started shouting at her to back off me and to stop talking to me that way. Meanwhile, my mother quietly turned the cold tap on full blast and started swishing the water around. They both turned, stared at her, and the midwife went "oh" and then rushed over to start filling the water jug with cold from the sink and adding to it. Water cooled, easy delivery, baby thriving and Apgar results all good. And I still needed my husband there, and the photos of his delight holding our PFB and his excitement at the moment of birth itself "he's here, he's really here!" will always remain with me. I don't really remember my mother's presence because she just wasn't on my emotional radar - my husband and baby were. But her being there was undoubtedly hugely helpful.

I think my point is that having a baby is such a huge, personal and shared thing between the parents that nobody else really matters, as long as the birth attendants are doing their jobs right so things progress safely and smoothly. My mother is fairly emotionally detached in moments of crisis, after a boarding school from 7 childhood, which is hard in many ways as her child but quite brilliant at moments of high stress: she was the only person in that room to think calmly and sensibly because it wasn't her professional neck on the line, and it wasn't her baby. Yet her presence wasn't remotely as important to me emotionally as my husband's. It was our baby being born, and he is the person I love most in the world along with those babies. Nobody can replace or undermine or threaten that role because he created them with me. And oddly, I think if I'd had a closer bond with my mother she'd have been less use to me in that scenario. She has a medical background and fabulous professional interpersonal skills, so I knew she'd be a wonderful advocate because she'd go into that professional mindset. My husband would love me, worry about me and be there for me in a way nobody else ever could be - and actually that's reflective of our relationship generally, not just in the labour. But funnily enough, my husband is a very calm, gentle man and I'd wanted her there as she can be tank-like in her assertiveness, but when I was threatened my husband blew up and she was meekly circumventing the argument to fix the issue practically. Their roles were different - one was practical, the other emotionally supportive, from just from sitting there and quietly reading a book to clearly and angrily stating to the midwife that I was a human being in immense pain who deserved basic courtesy, whatever the situation. I needed him there emotionally, not her. But when there was a minor crisis, as it turned out I needed her there too in that capacity.

I do think your feelings are completely natural, after experiencing such a horrendous bereavement. It would be odd if you didn't have such feelings, actually. But the great thing about a doula is that they're a familiar, yet detached figure. An informed and experienced figure. She'll never be your wife's spouse or your baby's father, and after the birth period ends you'll probably never see her again, any more than you will the other birth professionals. But meanwhile, she can support both of you in ensuring the sort of continuous, one-to-one care we all want and need, but the NHS just can't afford.

It's also worth talking with the doula and your wife about not wanting to be pushed out, as you undoubtedly and unfairly were last time. You could even have it in the birth plan that you are not to be requested to leave under any circumstances. Try to be open about your fears and anxieties, because while your wife is the one to labour and birth, you've lived through something so terrible associated with that process, and you would be a robot or a sociopath were you unaffected.

I do hope, and actually believe, that witnessing a normal delivery will be pretty healing for you. What happened to your baby last time was such a tragedy, and in this country a very, very rare one. Most births are simple, straightforward and uncomplicated, and even the complicated are almost always safe. Your loss was so very, desperately unlucky, and hopefully witnessing a good birth with a healthy mother and baby will heal some of those hurts for you.

I wish all three of you the very, very best.

perfectstorm Thu 27-Feb-14 11:19:31

For what it's worth, I'm sure that if your first partner had had a doula at her birth, you would NOT have ended up being excluded from the room for 12 hours in that awful way. The doula would have been communicating with both your partner and you and kicking out the bloody aunts unless your partner was crystal clear that she wanted them there.

Yes; this. Absolutely this. She's not an interfering rellie, she's a pro.

(And sorry my comment was so long! Didn't realise until it posted.)

LurcioLovesFrankie Thu 27-Feb-14 11:28:23

OP, sorry for your loss. I can't begin to imagine how terrible this must have been for you.

I'm not sure that your feelings have been sufficiently addressed on this
thread (perhaps not suprisingly, because most of us are women who have experience of giving birth but not of being the supporting partner). I have good friends who are gay - they've now had one child each, and made the very interesting comment that both of them found that psychologically speaking, it was tougher for them being the supporting partner than being the partner giving birth. This is despite them having had totally different birth experiences - the one who had the 3 day active labour followed by Em CS (followed by infection) said she still found it harder to be the supporting partner, even though her
wife's birth was a straightforward natural labour (so much so that she
found it easier to manage without G&A as she was getting better pain
control from breathing exercises).

So I guess what I'm saying is "don't minimise your own feelings here." Ultimately, your wife needs to feel comfortable with what she's doing (and my gay friends, incidentally, have a rule of thumb that whoever's actually pregnant gets the casting vote), so if she does decide that a doula will be helpful, you'll have to find some way of working round that. And I can see that it's difficult to talk to your wife about this because you don't want to relive a terrifying experience with her when she's stressed about pregnancy. Would a possible way forward be to ask for choice of doula to be a joint decision - that you have to find a doula you're both happy with? And maybe also ask your wife whether she'd be okay with you having a private discussion with the doula about your own previous experiences so that the doula knows why you're going to find being present at your wife's labour a very difficult time.

I honestly don't think, given what you've been through, that advice to
"man up" and "suck it up" is actually helpful in these circumstance.

Quoteunquote Thu 27-Feb-14 11:37:06

We had quite a few traumatic births with tragic endings, for our last birth we had a doula (she was a friend)

She enabled us to concentrate on the birth, and each other, by dealing with all the other things,

she had spent a huge amount of time going through all the endless possibilities and our priorities prior to the birth,

because she was there communicating our needs and making sure that we were protected from anything unnecessary.

My husband was able to be actively involved, rubbing my back sitting on a ball behind me, catching our daughter, cutting cords, holding me,

If our amazing doula (who is also a midwife) hadn't been there my husband would of had to focus on lots of other things that were having to happen to me, she freed him up to focus on me, by being our protection and resourcing everything we needed.

I would find the right person for both of you, and spend time explaining how you want to be supported.

best birth I ever had, and I have had a lot.

lucy101 Thu 27-Feb-14 19:17:18

Hi there, I really feel for you and am glad that there have been some very sensitive postings about just how difficult it is to deal with such a tragic situation. My husband and I had a stillbirth which was devastating and we had very different ways of coping and preparing for the birth almost exactly a year later of our healthy son. However in some ways we could work as a team because we had shared the same terrible experience.

A friend of my DH's had a stillbirth at a similar time, split up with his partner, then met someone else who became pregnant quickly and I know she found it difficult to manage her DP's feelings as she hadn't had the same experience.

I do think you need to consider that you might need some support (away from your DP) before the birth to discuss and work out your feelings about such a traumatic event and how you will manage them at the next birth, rather than get them all muddled up with supporting your new DP.

Could you get some counselling on your own, even just a session or two? Perhaps post some extra support, you could even have a meeting with whoever is in charge of your DP's care at the hospital to make sure you do not feel excluded and this is noted in the notes and birth plan? I would also be communicating your experience to other caregivers/midwives etc. so they can be sympathetic.

It is complicated because you do need to respect that your DP has everything she feels she needs to give birth confidently and be able to support her in the way that she needs to be supported (which might be very different to what you are both expecting).

Regards the doula, I had one for the first (still)birth (she was booked before we knew the baby wouldn't survive) and it turned out that I did not want her at the birth which has also happened to friends of mine. However, I may just have picked the wrong doula though....

Perhaps if you had support before the birth to work through some of your feelings you might find that a sympathetic doula would be able to support you both.

I would also suggest that you try and prepare yourself for the different situations that you might find yourself in so that you can be a little more emotionally prepared and hopefully are not overwhelmed by your memories and emotions around the past birth.

I hope you find a way through it and that you find it is a healing and bonding experience. I can say that for DH and I it has, despite very difficult feelings.

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Thu 27-Feb-14 20:42:58
drivenfromdistraction Fri 28-Feb-14 13:00:22

Quoteunquote - it sounds as if you have had an unbelievably tough time, I am so sorry.

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 13:22:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 13:33:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PicaK Fri 28-Feb-14 13:45:39

Some lovely responses here. Just to add you should also look at the Birth Trauma Society online - theyhave a section for dads.

I haven't had a doula myself but from lack of funds. From what i've read they are a real plus.

Blu Fri 28-Feb-14 13:46:23

NotQuiteSuperman, so sorry about your previous experience. It sounds incredibly painful, and I am not surprised you now feel the way you do.

You will be a great birth partner. Your wife will want you there and will not want or allow you to be pushed out just because of someone else's presence. If she wants you out for any reason (sudden 'cave' instinct or whatever) that would happen with or without a doula.

When I was expecting for the first time I planned a hb. So I knew that the mw from the specialist hb unit would be with me non stop from established labour onwards. That does not always happen in a busy ward, and had we been planning a hospital birth I may have felt the need for a constant experienced presence.

But certainly not instead of DP!

Have you signed up for NCT classes? Go together, and so many issues for you to talk about will come up.

You can of course talk with a doula about how you feel and your relationship with the process. A good doula will be very supportive of you and your role! And help you to undertake it in a true Superman way.

My DP was anxious that he might not do the right thing. Once he shared that with me, I told him I didn't actually want him to do anything except be there, unless I asked hi. Then he felt much more confident.

Congratulations...and good luck!

badbaldingballerina123 Fri 28-Feb-14 14:20:36

Superman I totally understand what your saying and I would feel the same if my spouse effectively doubted whether I could provide the apropriate support . I won't go into it but I've had home delivery with just me , Dh and the midwife. Dh cut the chord , washed and dressed baby , neither of us wanted anyone else involved.

My dp in his previous marriage had his mil and sil present and says he felt that they intruded into what should have been a lovely private time.

Your wife is obviously scared and I can understand why . Reading horror stories won't be helping . There's plenty of independent sites to read , and you don't leave your choices at the door when you enter a hospital. If there's a horrible midwife your perfectly capable of dealing with that.

Speak to your wife honestly about how you feel , are you attending any classes ?

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