Husbands/Partners, Doulas, and Homebirth - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband has been 100% supportive of my desire to try for a homebirth for our first child. We found a midwife whom we both like a lot. She requires us to use a doula, which is an added expense, but something that I had thought about doing anyway.

This is the only part of the homebirth my husband seems concerned about. He thinks he should be able to replicate the support that a doula offers during a birth (I disagree, even though he said, "Couldn't I get some training?"). He totally gets why someone would want a doula in a doctor-attended hospital birth, too, so his concerns are specific to homebirth.

Does anyone know of any books or resources online that have a good description of how a doula works when there is a husband or partner who also wants to be involved in supporting the mother during the birth? I'd like to be able to give him a better idea of what it could mean to have a midwife AND a doula AND a supportive partner present at a birth.

His bottom line is that he doesn't want to spend money on something that makes him feel useless. He said, "What if I offer you support and the doula is handling everything, so all I can do is stand off to the side?" I do agree that the money hurts, but it's required by our midwife, so the best I can do is try to reassure him that there will still be something for him to do.

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#2 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 10:02 AM
 
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If your midwife requires it maybe it is something you guys could talk over with her - why does she require it and how has she seen the roles play out when husbands want to be supportive.

My impression is that a good Doula's job would be to help him help you if that is what you guys desire.. it is about the doula supporting you however is best and if that is by being more out of the way and maybe supporting your husband as he helps you that might be what she does.

I have not used one but this is my impression from other people. DH could also be involved in finding one maybe and you guys could make a point to ask about this issue so he will feel comfortable.

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#3 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 10:27 AM
 
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http://www.babycenter.com/404_will-m...-doula_2444.bc

Great quote from this page: http://www.childbirth.org/faq.html "My husband was a great help, but when things got very scary near the end and I was in a lot of pain, he found it very comforting that Paula (doula) was there to help him, too. Even the toughest of men come apart when their wives are in pain."

http://www.bloomspokane.com/2009/07/...s-perspective/


I'll tell you my personal story as well: My midwife and doula didn't make it to my house until I was ready to start pushing because I had a crazy fast labor. Before they got there, I wouldn't let my partner leave me alone, and as a result, I had my baby in the bathtub because there was nobody to fill up the birthing tub in time. Had the doula and midwife gotten there on time, my partner could have continued labor support while the doula filled the tub, or vice versa.

Then when it came time to push the baby out, our doula helped the midwife by handing her things, holding things for her, running to the other room to get more olive oil for my perineum, etc. while my partner was able to totally concentrate on the birth. So, you never know when that extra pair of hands is going to come in handy, or what kind of attention and support you're going to need at a given moment, and that's what the doula does.
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#4 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies so far. I'll be back to read them in depth.

It occurs to me I should have posted this in another forum. Mods, feel free to move it.
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#5 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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the doula doesn't have to take his role. it would be her job to help him help you and to take care of everything else going on in the house so he can do that. he should think of her more as guidance, not interference. also, you guys are running the show. you meet with her a few times prior to the birth to make sure she understands your expectations and her role clearly.

my dp feels the same way as yours! he's especially not thrilled with spending the money on a doula when he thinks he can do the job perfectly fine. i think the money issue is the biggest part.

i just want someone there to help him out is all.. someone who knows where to massage and what to do to keep me focused.. i dont want to replace my dp, but since he refuses to read any books on being a birth partner i need someone to give him direction! with that being said, i respect his wishes and his desire to have our homebirth be as intimate as possible so all of these things are still up for discussion.. i just want to make sure im not in labour with a vomiting/fainting/grossed out/frightened birth partner lol

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#6 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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I was just talking with DH about this a few days ago and he has similar concerns. I figure the doula can give DH tips about how to help me and that way we have two people on hand in case someone needs to grab/make food or whatever and I can't stand being left alone (hard to predict since I've never done this before). Plus, it could take a long long time, so having someone to switch off helping me would be good. DH said he's good at staying awake for a long time and pulling through, which is true, but at the end we'll have a little bean to take care of and I'll be exhausted so it would be good if he had some energy left, you know?

I'm planning to bring this up with our midwife at our next appointment since it's not a requirement for us, and see what she says. Maybe you could ask your MW what kind of tasks she needs the doula to be present for, then your DH could see that it wouldn't be to replace him? For one I'm thinking the MW often doesn't arrive in early labour, so the doula would fill in that gap.
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#7 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 12:10 PM
 
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I think you should find out more about why your midwife requires this- especially given the cost.

I have had three home births, but I've never had a doula. I don't agree with your husband exactly... a good doula does know her role and stick to it. However, I have seen/heard many stories where doulas have overstepped- especially at home births. Home births are, in general, so different than hospital births and the typical roles of advocate and being the only one with experience in natural birth really doesn't apply at a home birth.

Does your midwife have recommendations of home birth friendly doulas? Does she expect the doula to help her? In that case it makes her more of an assistant than a doula.

Mama to DD-9, DSS-11, happily married and living with 1dog, 1 cat, 7 chickens, and 2 ducks....expecting 03/11
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#8 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 12:25 PM
 
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I just wanted to note on your saying you're going to 'try' for a homebirth. To me language is so powerful, and I would want to change to saying that I am 'having' a homebirth.

That said, it is strange for a homebirth midwife to require a doula; is there something else going on that made her feel that a doula was necessary? I could understand if it was someone who had special considerations, physical disabilities or very high emotional needs, but for everyone...that seems strange.

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#9 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:03 PM
 
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We were all set for a birth center birth (basically at my midwife's home) and things were going along great - the doula basically "ran and fetched" so that my honey could be right there with me - got me water, tea, got him tea, etc... even went out and got us tacos when thing ran long. (From my favorite taco place across town!).

The best thing was she told him what was happening... he was in the loop - I knew cuz I could feel it and the midwife knew cuz she'd done it 1000 times, but he was clueless. When scary stuff would happen, she told him it was normal - honestly, it helped ME because I didn't have to reassure him constantly.

We ended up in the hospital and she came with us, and kept up the same thing - told him what all the tubes and wires and medicines were and "translated" for the doctor. She really helped him a lot and he's not the most thoughtful guy in the world, but he suggested I make her a pan of cinnamon rolls as a thank you.

The funniest thing was after our daughter was born, the OB got DRENCHED in fluid - all the water'd built up behind her and came out like WOOSH and my honey cracked up - the docs and nurses glared at him but the doula was laughing too, and he said that alone made the expense worth it.

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#10 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just wanted to note on your saying you're going to 'try' for a homebirth. To me language is so powerful, and I would want to change to saying that I am 'having' a homebirth.

That said, it is strange for a homebirth midwife to require a doula; is there something else going on that made her feel that a doula was necessary? I could understand if it was someone who had special considerations, physical disabilities or very high emotional needs, but for everyone...that seems strange.

I actually guessed someone would pick up on this language issue! But I typed it anyway. I feel that saying "I'm having a homebirth" doesn't acknowledge (for me, personally) that I am open to transferring if my midwife and I deem it necessary. So I agree that language is powerful, but this way of phrasing it empowers me (and, again, I know this is not something that would work for everyone) to be happy with a hospital transfer if that happens down the line. But I understand your concerns.

I am suspecting that my midwife requires a doula because, as it turns out, she wants me to use the one in her practice. I think I should be able to pick my own doula. I'm going to talk with her at our next appointment, especially because I found out that a high school friend who lives in the area has a wife who is a doula and would be willing to meet with me about being my doula. She would probably be much more affordable for me to use than the in-practice midwife.

You're right -- it is a policy for this midwife, not something specific to anything in my particular case. But I had misunderstood and thought I got to choose my own.

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#11 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If your midwife requires it maybe it is something you guys could talk over with her - why does she require it and how has she seen the roles play out when husbands want to be supportive.

My impression is that a good Doula's job would be to help him help you if that is what you guys desire.. it is about the doula supporting you however is best and if that is by being more out of the way and maybe supporting your husband as he helps you that might be what she does.

I have not used one but this is my impression from other people. DH could also be involved in finding one maybe and you guys could make a point to ask about this issue so he will feel comfortable.
Yes, I agree that we, especially he (since it's about what he wants his role to be, as much as what I can guess I might need from him) need to talk it over with her at our next appointment (next month). I'd like it if we can get the midwife to agree we can use our own, not default to the one in her practice. I know she has a list of other midwives, but so far there is no overlap between the ones she recommends and the ones that friends who've had homebirths (or are doulas) have recommended to me.

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#12 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by lynsage View Post
http://www.babycenter.com/404_will-m...-doula_2444.bc

Great quote from this page: http://www.childbirth.org/faq.html "My husband was a great help, but when things got very scary near the end and I was in a lot of pain, he found it very comforting that Paula (doula) was there to help him, too. Even the toughest of men come apart when their wives are in pain."

http://www.bloomspokane.com/2009/07/...s-perspective/


I'll tell you my personal story as well: My midwife and doula didn't make it to my house until I was ready to start pushing because I had a crazy fast labor. Before they got there, I wouldn't let my partner leave me alone, and as a result, I had my baby in the bathtub because there was nobody to fill up the birthing tub in time. Had the doula and midwife gotten there on time, my partner could have continued labor support while the doula filled the tub, or vice versa.

Then when it came time to push the baby out, our doula helped the midwife by handing her things, holding things for her, running to the other room to get more olive oil for my perineum, etc. while my partner was able to totally concentrate on the birth. So, you never know when that extra pair of hands is going to come in handy, or what kind of attention and support you're going to need at a given moment, and that's what the doula does.
Thank you for the links and your story. I'll share them with my husband.

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#13 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my dp feels the same way as yours! he's especially not thrilled with spending the money on a doula when he thinks he can do the job perfectly fine. i think the money issue is the biggest part.

i just want someone there to help him out is all.. someone who knows where to massage and what to do to keep me focused.. i dont want to replace my dp, but since he refuses to read any books on being a birth partner i need someone to give him direction! with that being said, i respect his wishes and his desire to have our homebirth be as intimate as possible so all of these things are still up for discussion.. i just want to make sure im not in labour with a vomiting/fainting/grossed out/frightened birth partner lol
Money and massage! It's funny you mention the massage -- I'd much rather have one from someone trained when I'm in pain. But the money thing. Ouch. It's $1200 if I go with their "preferred" doula. And I'm still not sure how much of the homebirth cost my insurance company is going to cover. They won't cover a doula at all, as far as I can tell.

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#14 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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(hard to predict since I've never done this before).
You made some good points in your response. Thanks. The parenthetical I quoted above is so important for me to keep in mind, though. Neither of us (my husband or I) has ever done this before, so we might be better off preparing for as many different possibilities as we can. And a doula might help us do that, if we find one with whom we "click."

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#15 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:30 PM
 
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It's a good idea to talk to her about why a doula is required, I've never heard of that before. You certainly should be allowed to pick your own.

We decided against hiring a doula with our previous births, it was a good decision in our case. I want to be completely alone with my husband when in labor, my midwife comes in every now and then to check me and the baby, but I strongly wanted everyone but him banished from the room until the birth. A doula wouldn't have been a good use of money for us, and our midwives brought their own help (a student) each time. I know of so many people that have loved having the extra experience and support of a doula there, however.

Keep us posted!

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#16 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think you should find out more about why your midwife requires this- especially given the cost.

I have had three home births, but I've never had a doula. I don't agree with your husband exactly... a good doula does know her role and stick to it. However, I have seen/heard many stories where doulas have overstepped- especially at home births. Home births are, in general, so different than hospital births and the typical roles of advocate and being the only one with experience in natural birth really doesn't apply at a home birth.

Does your midwife have recommendations of home birth friendly doulas? Does she expect the doula to help her? In that case it makes her more of an assistant than a doula.
Thanks for your reply. I don't think my husband is afraid a doula will overstep as much as he's just afraid he'll be made obsolete. And, like you say, since there will be a homebirth midwife there, he's not sure exactly what a doula will do that he couldn't do (since he's willing to take classes/read up). I think that the experience of a doula will make her perhaps more valuable to me in pain than my husband, no matter how well-intentioned he might be, but I also want to make sure he feels a part of the birth. So I do think a conversation is in order.

And, yes, my midwife has recommendations of people. I think I might not necessarily go with the woman in her practice, though. I think I might interview as many people as possible and go with the least expensive person we like. Unfortunately, the money issue is a big one for us, though we won't let it be the only factor.

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#17 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We were all set for a birth center birth (basically at my midwife's home) and things were going along great - the doula basically "ran and fetched" so that my honey could be right there with me - got me water, tea, got him tea, etc... even went out and got us tacos when thing ran long. (From my favorite taco place across town!).
Thanks so much for sharing! Too funny. I think if we end up with a doula who will go get my husband tacos, he will be in love. But I won't let him expect that, of course!

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#18 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's a good idea to talk to her about why a doula is required, I've never heard of that before. You certainly should be allowed to pick your own.

We decided against hiring a doula with our previous births, it was a good decision in our case. I want to be completely alone with my husband when in labor, my midwife comes in every now and then to check me and the baby, but I strongly wanted everyone but him banished from the room until the birth. A doula wouldn't have been a good use of money for us, and our midwives brought their own help (a student) each time. I know of so many people that have loved having the extra experience and support of a doula there, however.

Keep us posted!
Thank you for your perspective! I wonder if the doula, in this case, really will be more of an assistant to our midwife, like the students in your births.

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#19 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 02:05 PM
 
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I wonder if the doula, in this case, really will be more of an assistant to our midwife, like the students in your births.
Yeah, that's kind of what it's sounding like. Which is not cool IMO, if she needs an assistant she should have one, rather than making you hire her doula so she can have someone to help her (and selling it like the doula will be there just for you).
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#20 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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I've met with several doulas at this point, but am awaiting the anatomy scan to find out of I'm a candidate for VBA2C because of the previa.

That said, I didn't really like any of them. I can't imagine I'd be comfortable laboring with them.

I labored for 28 hours with DD, and just a couple with DS before they bumped my scheduled c-section.

My DH was useless, despite having read up on it and taken weeks of Bradley classes with me. My friends were there to help, but they didn't know what to do. I couldn't cope with the exhaustion from the 24 hours of labor and the prior 3 sleepless nights because of the Braxton Hicks. I was scared and exhausted and *very* cranky. Despite all of our training, watching about 794 "A Baby Story" episodes, and reading several books, when I started puking from the contractions and screaming "DON'T COME BACK HERE WITHOUT A F*#&ING EPIDURAL!!", he caved. He was afraid of me and for me. He didn't try to do anything to help me. He read a book.

I think my DH just choked. I don't think he was really prepared for how awful labor was going to be. And the epidural stalled everything and I had a c-section. I really relied on him to support me, and he choked. He was as freaked out as I was. I mean, they had told us about the pain in Bradley and everything, but nothing really prepared me for the pitocin labor I had.

On the one hand, you need to be totally comfortable with the people you're laboring in front of. The last thing you need is to feel miserably judged while you're laboring. I had a mean nurse for her whole shift, and it certainly didn't help. You need to like your doula and want her to help you. A doula you're not comfortable with is not a good match.

If the midwife is asking specifically for her, the midwife must trust her and count on her to help you get through labor. How many labors have they been through together? Why did the midwife pick her?

On the other hand, like everyone said about the extra hands, and all the doulas I've interviewed have said they would help DH figure out how to help me. One example is the double-hip press that I guess a lot of women like. Stuff that doulas know, like when to change positions that your DH can help you do if you agree with her suggestion. In our case, DH is still getting ribbed by me about complaining that his feet hurt too much to walk with me while I was in labor, and doesn't want to go through all that again. I don't want to feel disappointed in him again, so I want someone there that knows what she's doing.

I agree it's a lot of money. Do you have an option of an FSA or HCRA to put the money away pre-tax? Can you agree ahead of time to her role? Call her references to see what she was like in labor. Did she listen to the partner? Help the partner?

Especially since it's your first and it will be in your home, it's hard to imagine what it's going to be like. Nothing prepared me, for sure.

It sounds like you should talk to the MW more about the doula, and also to the doula. Is $1200 competitive in your area? In LA, an elite, experienced doulas is $3K. A doula with 30+ births under her belt is $1200. A doula with 5-10 births is $500-800. What is it like in your area? Can you email around?

It's a decision, for sure. Good luck!
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#21 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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my husband is one of thoes that when it comes to birth and such he does the whatever you want honey. that being said he had no intention of paying for a doula.. ( i lucked out and got two wonderful free doulas) But now he definatley would pay for them. I think he almost found them more helpful to him than I did. They were a great help and allowed him to stay with me they did all the fetching and assisting so he could just be my support. When transition came and he was unsure of what to do other than hold my hand. one of them was right there helping out. they never over stepped they suggested things to dh so he could do what he needed to do....

I have heard from doulas that sometimes the most benifical thing they have done with a labour is have batteries or a camera on hand casue it was forgotten.

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#22 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, that's kind of what it's sounding like. Which is not cool IMO, if she needs an assistant she should have one, rather than making you hire her doula so she can have someone to help her (and selling it like the doula will be there just for you).
In my midwife's defense, I haven't had any doula conversation with her personally. Just her staff. I'm sorry if I wrote something misleading. I really like my midwife and don't feel like she is trying to pull something over on me. I just need to have the conversation with her personally, not via her office staff. And even the staff didn't tell me what the doula's role would be - assisting the midwife or assisting me, I mean. So I definitely don't feel like I'm being taken advantage of - just that I need more info for me and my husband. I trust my midwife, though, and look forward to asking her a lot of clarifying questions.
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#23 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 03:17 PM
 
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also could you find a doula-in-training, one that hasnt gotten all of her births yet? they are usually awesome, and free. just a thought
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#24 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 04:15 PM
 
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I feel like I am more help in hospital births, to be honest. Most of what I do in a hb is similar to what TnMsMama described. I walked a dog once! I also gave suggestions for position changes and translated (I was in Japan).

Though for a first time mom, the presence of someone who is familiar and comfortable with birth can be reassuring. A doula will most likely be with you longer than the midwife, since a doula comes to you when you want extra support, even if that's early labor. (that could be one of the reasons your mw wants you to have a doula!) And don't forget too, that even if you were going to have a hospital birth, most doulas spend quite a bit of time supporting you and your partner at home before you go.

I think your dh will feel better, or at least know for sure that he doesn't want one any circumstances, after you meet with some doulas. Consults are free, and I've found that most dad's who are concerned about my role overshadowing theirs are not after speaking with me.

If this is a requirement of your mw, and you end up being dead set against it, you may have to find another cp though.

Banana, doula wife to Papa Banana and mother to Banana One, Banana Two, Banana Three, Banana Four...

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#25 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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Another hb'er here who's never had a doula -- and finds the requirement odd from a hb mw! I think doulas are totally awesome, but I feel like I hire the mw to do what a doula might do during a hospital birth -- ie, continuous labor support, remind me of coping techniques/position changes, help dh support me, help me achieve a natural birth.

Only my mw for dd1 even suggested a doula because we were dealing with my clearly very nervous and inexperienced dh who actually might have needed his own birth attendant (he did awesome though! we were all impressed and surprised!)

I hope your midwife clarifies things for you, it seems like you really trust her and so I hope her explanation makes the doula issue work for you and your dh.

Mama to 4 girls    chicken3.gif5/05, 12/07, 9/09, 3/11   winner.jpghomeschool.gifhomebirth.jpg

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#26 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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I'm a doula. And a homebirther.

First off, I think it's odd that your midwife is requiring a doula. This is something that should be your choice. I'm all for hiring a doula (preferably me lolol), but I realize each woman is different. Some want to be completely alone. Some really need the support of a doula. This should really be up to you and your partner to decide- not your midwife.

I would really encourage you to talk with your midwife about what she feels her role during a birth is, versus what she expects a doula to do. My concern is that the midwife might be relying more on the doula to be an extra set of hands for her, not as an impartial support person that is there for you, and that's it.

As far as dads and doulas go: There have been studies done that show when a doula is present, dad actually touches and talks to mom more than births where there is no doula. Dads also feel more satisfaction with how the birth went when there is a doula. From personal experience, the dads I've worked with have had similar concerns- being useless or unimportant. Not one of them have felt that way after the birth, however. It's always my goal to get dad involved as far as he feels comfortable, and to make sure mom and dad have time to connect as a couple during the birth.

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do this, so please feel free to take these links down, moderators.

http://74.6.239.67/search/cache?ei=U...GE.FrBhX_kLg--

http://www.doula.com/dads_and_doulas.shtml

http://pregnancy.about.com/od/doula1...and-doulas.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gEd05bm4B0
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#27 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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Try meeting with a doula you like and I think she'll put his mind at ease. My husband isn't as hands-on as your husband (he was happy to be there but felt incompetent when it came to providing too much support) and he really loved having a doula, especially during transition and other intense moments.

Baby Boy 9/08 & Baby Girl 3/11

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#28 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 06:01 PM
 
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I had a hospital birth, so ymmv, but the birth experience is so emotional. It would have been a great help to me to have someone I trusted, but not so emotionally invested stick with me through the process.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#29 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 07:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeanyMama View Post
It's a good idea to talk to her about why a doula is required, I've never heard of that before. You certainly should be allowed to pick your own.

We decided against hiring a doula with our previous births, it was a good decision in our case. I want to be completely alone with my husband when in labor, my midwife comes in every now and then to check me and the baby, but I strongly wanted everyone but him banished from the room until the birth. A doula wouldn't have been a good use of money for us, and our midwives brought their own help (a student) each time. I know of so many people that have loved having the extra experience and support of a doula there, however.

Keep us posted!
I felt the same way... that I wanted as intimate an experience as possible. Our midwife also brought a student (who we loved and is now part of their practice) as well as a second registered midwife for the actual birth, so we had 3 midwives for the last 1/2 hour or so. For most of the labour our midwives lay on the couch and rested since my DH was supporting me so well, and brought us yogurt and juice to drink. But DH and I did a private hypnobirthing course together and talked a lot about ways for him to support me, breathing etc. so he was a great, fairly educated support person.

Wife to great guy and mama to 2 beautiful girls S Oct 15, 2008 and Z March 22, 2011
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#30 of 35 Old 10-22-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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In my first pregnancy, I felt like I should hire a doula for our homebirth. My midwife was kind of surprised and said she does all the doula stuff too, but I decided to interview and hire one anyway.

My labor was long and a bit complicated, and I was glad we had her there. We needed everyone's energy. My doula was a hypnodoula, too, and had special skills that really helped.

My DH did a great job of taking care of me during labor and the doula never took on anyone else's role, but if I could do it over again, I would see that someone, like the doula, reminded my DH to take care of himself! He didn't eat, hardly sat down at all, and didn't have the benefit of all the exhilarating birthing hormones to keep him going.

Kind of rambly, sorry. But a doula can be really helpful in a homebirth. I do think it's really important to find one that you like.

Catherine, mama to Preschooler Girl 9/08, and Toddler Boy 3/11

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