The answer is no, they do not.
Partners are an extremely vital part of the birth team. Nobody knows you, your strengths, weaknesses, desires and the essences of what makes you unique as well as your partner. The connection and love between you and your partner is crucial during labor and birth.
“A father’s [or partners] participation during birth can be highly advantageous for the laboring mother. When a couple’s relationship is loving and it’s sanctity preserved and supported, they are a virtual oxytocin generator.” – Patrick M. Houser, Author of Fathers To Be
The hormone oxytocin instigates labor and keeps it progressing. Love and affection help keep this hormone flowing. And that is why we at Buddha Belly say that the #1 job of partners is to be loving and attentive towards the laboring mother. Simply put, that is the partner’s main and most effective job. A doula could never take this away or do it better than the partner does.
Birth doulas help partners too.
The role of “labor coach” may be hard to fill without prior training and in an environment and culture that one is usually unfamiliar with. The partner may wish to be an advocate for the laboring woman and participate in the decision making process during labor and birth. A doula understands the process and language of birth, the medical procedures and hospital or birth center protocols. A doula can provide unbiased information to help parents make informed decisions and thereby ease communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her medical care team.
With doulas present, partners tend to stay more involved rather than pull away in times of stress.
A partner may not understand a mother’s natural behavior during labor and may react anxiously to what a doula knows to be the normal process of birth. Seeing his or her partner in pain may cause concern. The doula can be reassuring and can help the mother to cope with the sensations of labor in her unique way.
If the partner wants to provide physical comfort such as back massage, change of positions, and help his partner stay focused, the doula can demonstrate and make suggestions for what may work best. A good doula preserves these moments and encourages them.
If a cesarean is necessary a partner may be asked to accompany the mother during surgery. Not all partners desire or are able to witness or participate at this intense level. A doula can step in and support a mother during a cesarean if requested. With a doula on the team, a partner can provide support at a level he or she feels most comfortable with.
“As a father sharing my wife’s birth experience, the calm certainty, reassurance and positive attitude of our doula made all the difference in making our birth a wonderful, joyous and unforgettable experience. Doulas rule.” – M.R.
Birth doulas support partners too.
Labor can be a long haul. Sometimes partners need to check on or tend to other children, grab a quick bite to eat, respond to a phone call, or just take a break and steal a nap. Having a doula there makes this possible. Doulas understand that partners are essential individuals and aim to strengthen them.
Your medical care team is responsible for assessing and treating the medical condition of the mother and baby. However, this experience is also emotional and spiritual with a lasting impact on a woman’s life. A doula knows that the mother and her partner will remember it forever. By caring for and supporting the mother, the doula supports the parents in having a positive experience.
The love a partner shares with the mother and child and his commitment to nurture and protect the family are qualities that only he can provide. With her partner and doula by her side the mother will benefit from both the partner’s loving attention and the doula’s guidance and expertise in childbirth.