How to support a client who is saying she doesn't want the father there? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 19 Old 04-09-2014, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a friend I am serving as a doula for her birth in one month- and she is having difficulties with her relationship. Mostly, she is feeling completely unsupported, and the guy is giving her reasons to- saying he's only with her because she's pregnant, that he doesn't love her, he's not affectionate- etc..... yet he declares he wants to be at the birth (at home). She has expressed to me that she feels like if he can't be supportive she'd rather just have me (and her other doula and midwife) there so that having him there and the expectation/disappointment/distraction of him not knowing/caring what to do to help her doesn't interfere with her birth process.

 

has anyone else ever had a mama who didn't want her partner there or was going through a rough time and opted out of having him at the birth? How did it turn out if he didn't go? How did it turn out if he did?

 

I would love some client stories, advice and insight. I just keep telling her that she really needs to decide what situation she's going to feel the most comfortable and uninhibited because that will make for a relaxed/easy birth. 

 

for me- if my partner was being the way he is- I would probably want to be just alone with women supporting me too.

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#2 of 19 Old 04-09-2014, 12:19 PM
 
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When I was pregnant with my DD I was separated from my BF (now DH). He was showing zero interest in the baby, was not being supportive of me, not even returning phone calls sometimes. My plan was to labor without him, then have my doula go get him right before/during pushing do he could be there when she came out.
Things didn't work out that way and he missed the birth completely (not his fault). I would encourage your friend to labor with people and in a place that feels safe and comfortable to her. IMO he has no right to be there if she doesn't want him to.
If it was me, I would also question whether she should continue the relationship at all. I would not want a partner that was so unkind and clearly not invested in my well being and the relationship.

Me + DH = DD (1/2004) & DS (6/2013) & One on the way (11/2015)
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#3 of 19 Old 04-09-2014, 08:31 PM
 
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I feel strongly that a woman should have only who she wants at the birth, and that it is potentially putting the health of both mother and baby at risk to have unwanted people there, especially people she feels unsafe or inhibited around (and that's totally ignoring the potential effects on mental health). No one is entitled to see the birth, regardless of their role in the baby's creation - it's a very vulnerable time, and the health of mother and baby have to come first.

 

In your situation, it sounds like she wants him to be involved, so I'd probably explore the possibility with her of him being at the birth as a bonding-type thing, and whether she feels comfortable with him being there as an observer more than a supporter - maybe just at the very end for the birth itself as Lturtle said. But without any pressure to make that choice (because I don't really suspect it will make a big difference in the long run). 

 

I suggest this primarily because of my experience with one birth where the dad was really young, and appeared utterly uninterested throughout labor... but then he was in tears when the baby was actually born. I don't know if it made any real difference in the long run - I was involved in a hospital volunteer program, so we didn't get to know the families outside of the hospital at all. But I do think that being there maybe gave a little bit of reality to the situation.

 

Also, as doula, you can make up for lack of preparedness on his part (assuming he is cooperative). When you see a need, tell him what to do. I did a lot of that even with dads who went through the childbirth classes and all.

 

I would definitely suggest having her set ground rules for his presence (eg. doesn't have to be involved, but does have to be respectful), be sure he knows that being there is a privilege that can be revoked at any time, and that you're willing to take whatever steps are necessary to enforce this.

 

But there's absolutely nothing wrong with not having him at the birth - the idea of the father being present is really a recent thing. And if the possibility of bonding doesn't outweigh her discomfort, he shouldn't be there. Just support her as you would a single mom.


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#4 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 07:03 AM
 
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She absolutely gets to decide who is at the birth. As a doula, I think it's important to get at some practicalities.

Does she live with this guy? Because it is extremely difficult to bar someone from his own home. If she lives with him and has concerns about his presence at the birth, she needs to plan to birth somewhere else. Hospitals are really good at taking unwelcome visitors out of l&d, but she could also consider a birth center, or a friend or family member's home.

You should also talk about what she wants you to do if he shows up, and how to progress if he refuses to leave. You don't want to wind up steamrolled because you're not sure that it's okay to, say, call the police.
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#5 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 07:09 AM
 
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Does she not want the father there because he's not interested in the baby or because he's not interested in her?  If he's not interested in the baby, then he probably won't be there anyway.  But if she doesn't want him there because he doesn't want to be in a relationship with her, then that is not fair to him as the father.  It is also very telling about the way she is going to use the baby in the future.  It seems like she's telling him it's either both of them or he gets nothing and that the wrong attitude to have.  She needs to get over herself and allow the father to be there for the birth of THEIR child. 

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#6 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 07:44 AM
 
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Pregnancy and birth as they occur in our species are not fair. They cannot be made fair. We can't redress biological injustice by requiring that women allow fathers to watch the most hazardous part.

And the last thing a laboring woman needs is to be told to "get over herself." In that moment, sheneeds the people around her to take her needs seseriously.
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#7 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 08:02 AM
 
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But should she allow the father to not be a part of the baby's birth because he doesn't want to be in a relationship with her?  No!  That is his child too.  And while he can't go through the pregnancy with her, he can definitely be there for the birth.  She needs to be told that she cannot use the baby as collateral in their dealings as parents and the sooner she realizes that the better off the baby will be.  The baby may ask where was the father when s/he is born and the mom does not want to be in the position to say I didn't allow him to be there because he didn't want to be with me.  That's not even in the child's best interest. 

 

You are right.  Pregnancy isn't fair in our species.  But life isn't fair and sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do that is in the best interest for our children.  She needs to start putting her child before herself.

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#8 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 10:32 AM
 
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1. It is most certainly not the doula's job to tell a client that the baby's father must be permitted to be present.

2. Excluding people who make mom uncomfortable is not selfish, unreasonable, or treating the child as collateral. Mom is permitted to make choices that reflect and protect her feelings.

3. Labor and the post-partum period are very much about the mother-infant dyad. It is to their benefit to get through this time as a unit, without the baby being passed off to someone else so that he can serve his interests. Babies shouldn't be passed off to dad so he can bond at a moment that would be better spent initiating breast feeding. If a new father is likely to argue otherwise, excluding him until a few hours after birth helps preserve mom and baby's health.

4. Yes, this mom may one day wind up telling her child that dad wasn't there at the birth because mom didn't want him there. And she'll feel however she feels about it. She has years before she has to answer that question, and therefore, plenty of time to come up with an answer that reflects the father's relationship with her and with his kid. At some point, it will be appropriate to have a discussion with the child about safety and consent in relationships, and medical privacy. This decision may come up in that conversation. That's okay.

5. We can't judge best interests from a second hand account on the internet. I am inclimed to trust the mom's judgment, because it's her relationship and her labor. If dad's behaviour is abusive, the client may be having trouble articulating the issue, but may still know that excluding dad is in her child's best interests.
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#9 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 10:48 AM
 
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Mom2champ; for a birthing woman to be forced to labor and/or deliver in the presence of someone who is unkind or making her uncomfortable is not just unpleasant for her. It has physiological consequences that can adversely, and severely, effect both her and the child before, during and after delivery. The way a pregnant and birthing mother puts her child first, is to first care for her own needs. It would be fairly easy for the father to absent himself during the birth and meet the child shortly thereafter without negatively effecting their bond. As I'm sure any adoptive parent, or my own husband, would be quick to tell you.

We do not know the whole of this situation, but I see no evidence that the mother is issuing petty ultimatums. It would best, I feel, to confine our input to addressing the question at hand without making judgements regarding the parenting or lifestyle choices of the persons being discussed. Keep in mind that OP asked a question about how to respond to this situation in a professional capacity, as her role is to support the mother. She did not ask whether the mother was making the right choice.

Me + DH = DD (1/2004) & DS (6/2013) & One on the way (11/2015)
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#10 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 11:58 AM
 
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But everybody is giving an opinion on a second hand account.  Mine is just different.  The OP said that the lady is her friend (which is why dual relationships are frowned upon). As as friend, I would tell her that she is wrong for making the not a part of the child's birth.  Barring no issues of abuse and the reason she doesn't want him there is because he is not interested in continuing their relationship, the OP should tell her friend that the father should have an opportunity to be there.  There could even be rules the father could abide by in order to make the mother more comfortable, but he should not be excluded.  Also, I'm sure any adoptive parent will tell you that while they don't have to be there for the birth to bond with the baby, if given a choice they would have been there.  And MY husband would be quick to say how happy he was to be involved and there to see the baby born.  Even though he got on my nerves, I can't imagine what it would have done to him to tell him he couldn't be there. 

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#11 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 12:10 PM
 
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It seems to me that the institution of doula is kind of set up to blur the lines between professional and friend.  Isn't the entire marketing pitch for a doula that you pay this person to do what a really informed and helpful friend would?  If the romantic relationship is going south, I wouldn't expect to maintain a friendship with someone who told me that I had to let my ex watch me give birth.  For his sake, or the baby's, or anything, frankly. 

 

Setting and enforcing rules for presence at a delivery is a lot of work for someone.  That work can detract from the care the mother receives, and it's the mother in this case who is paying for those people to be present so they can care for her.  It is also far easier to not have a person in a space in the first place then it is to eject that person if they step out of line.  Because really - what if Dad gets really obnoxious or obstructive and refuses to leave?  What are the midwife and doula supposed to do then?  Are they capable of physically removing him?  Are the police going to respond to a call to request his removal?  Would that response be timely or effective? 

 

My husband was happy to see our children born too, and I was glad to have him there, but that is a key difference between my situation and the situation of the mother in the OP.  The happiness of the father is really not what's at issue here.  It's a question of care and comfort for the mother and the baby, as it should be, and not about what other people might want or prefer.

 

ETA:  In the event of a conflict between the mother's desire for privacy and the father's desire to be present for a hospital birth, the hospital staff are legally required to protect the privacy of the patient, i.e., the mother.  Non-medical personnel can only be present with the consent of the patient.  Mothers who choose homebirth should not be assumed to forfeit privacy rights.

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#12 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 12:27 PM
 
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Birth is about safety and comfort for mom and baby. It's not about dad. He only belongs there if he is part of that comfort. He doesn't get a free pass bc he contributed genetic material. 

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#13 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 12:29 PM
 
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Doula/client relationships are business relationships.  I don't think you could call your doula to chit chat about what happened at work that day.  But that's neither here nor there.

 

We'll just have to disagree about the role of a father.  People just need to be more mindful of who they make babies with :\

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#14 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 01:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mom2Champ View Post
 

Does she not want the father there because he's not interested in the baby or because he's not interested in her?  If he's not interested in the baby, then he probably won't be there anyway.  But if she doesn't want him there because he doesn't want to be in a relationship with her, then that is not fair to him as the fatherIt is also very telling about the way she is going to use the baby in the future.  It seems like she's telling him it's either both of them or he gets nothing and that the wrong attitude to have.  She needs to get over herself and allow the father to be there for the birth of THEIR child. 

 1) It doesn't matter if it's fair to him or not.

 2) It's not telling about anything and she's not using the baby at all.

 3) No, the laboring mother does not have to "get over herself" and once again, his contribution of 1 cell to the conception does not give him the right to be there at the birth.

 

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But should she allow the father to not be a part of the baby's birth because he doesn't want to be in a relationship with her?  No!  That is his child too.  And while he can't go through the pregnancy with her, he can definitely be there for the birth.  She needs to be told that she cannot use the baby as collateral in their dealings as parents and the sooner she realizes that the better off the baby will be.  The baby may ask where was the father when s/he is born and the mom does not want to be in the position to say I didn't allow him to be there because he didn't want to be with me.  That's not even in the child's best interest. 

 

You are right.  Pregnancy isn't fair in our species.  But life isn't fair and sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do that is in the best interest for our children.  She needs to start putting her child before herself.

 1) Echo what I said up there ^^

 2) No, she does not have to "do things she doesn't want to do". She is the one having the baby, she is in charge. Period. 

 3) Her baby doesn't care who was there. The best thing for the baby is to have a safe and comfortable birth which is impossible when mom is forced to be in a room with someone who makes her uncomfortable.

 

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But everybody is giving an opinion on a second hand account.  Mine is just different.  The OP said that the lady is her friend (which is why dual relationships are frowned upon). As as friend, I would tell her that she is wrong for making the not a part of the child's birth.  Barring no issues of abuse and the reason she doesn't want him there is because he is not interested in continuing their relationship, the OP should tell her friend that the father should have an opportunity to be there.  There could even be rules the father could abide by in order to make the mother more comfortable, but he should not be excluded.  Also, I'm sure any adoptive parent will tell you that while they don't have to be there for the birth to bond with the baby, if given a choice they would have been there.  And MY husband would be quick to say how happy he was to be involved and there to see the baby born.  Even though he got on my nerves, I can't imagine what it would have done to him to tell him he couldn't be there. 

 Once again, not about him. 


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#15 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 01:11 PM
 
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Birth is about safety and comfort for mom and baby. It's not about dad. He only belongs there if he is part of that comfort. He doesn't get a free pass bc he contributed genetic material. 

:yeah


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#16 of 19 Old 04-10-2014, 01:50 PM
 
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To turn it around, how is it fair or right for the father to jeopardize both mother and baby's health if his presence will be a problem for the mother (however questionable the reason may seem to him or an outside observer)? How is that putting the baby first?

DS born 6/03, DD1 born 9/06, DD2 born 10/10, DD3 born 4/14.
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#17 of 19 Old 04-14-2014, 12:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's not technically a dual relationship... of course I am serving as the role of doula-- because I'm a trained labor assistant- but I've been her friend for years and she wants me to be there to support her birth because I recently had a baby, she feels very comfortable with me and i have lots of skills (CMT, essential oil therapist, herbalist) that are complimentary to birth care-- and I'm doing it for free- because I'm her friend. I give her far more care than I would give a client- because she is my friend. I want to support her in whatever decision she chooses is right for her and she feels most comfortable in. I cite Ina May Gaskin's sphincter law to her when she brings this up- and encourage her to only have people present that she feels like she could pee in front of! Being comfortable and feeling uninhibited and supported is #1- if anything i think the best compromise for her would be to have her partner there physically in the house (yes they live together) and her doulas and midwife supporting her for labor- and for him to come at the end for the emergence of the baby once all the "work" is done that is really important she feel supported for. Of course I could tell him what to do and tell him what positions to hold her in and how to rub her back and have him fetch compresses and cold towels- but the point is that she is feeling like he has no interest/does not love her/is only with her because she is pregnant- and I feel like she is communicating to me she wants *genuine* support and love from people who are motivated to give it to her- not from her partner who she feels doesn't really give a sh*t (to be frank). 

 

Of course- she's my friend and I'm really hoping this guy turns it around and gets on board and helps her feel prepared and ready for the birth and is there. My husband certainly surprised me in the last few weeks before our baby was born- read every baby book and was totally there for me every contraction of labor in a way I didn't think he could be- so I hope that the same is true for her partner and he finally realizes it's real at the end. I think we all know that dads actually become dads when they meet their baby- I think intuitively that this is going to happen for her partner too- he's a good guy, just going through it right now. 

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#18 of 19 Old 04-14-2014, 10:16 AM
 
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It sounds like you're doing a good job of supporting her already. She is lucky to have you! I too hope that her partner turns his act around, but I agree that it's wise not to count on it.

Me + DH = DD (1/2004) & DS (6/2013) & One on the way (11/2015)
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#19 of 19 Old 04-14-2014, 11:48 AM
 
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I'm assuming she's talked to her midwife about her preferences?


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