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  • Writer's pictureangelahodgedoula

How Do Doulas Support Partners?

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Photo credit: Angela Hodge

I am often asked by prospective clients if I assist partners as a doula. The answer is a resounding yes! It is very important to me that partners are also supported - emotionally, physically, and informationally. I never want partners to feel irrelevant. They know the birthing person best, and this is their baby too! I never want to make them feel I am replacing them. Birthing people need the comfort and nurturing that only their special loved one can provide. I want to encourage that connection during labor and help the whole team feel unified and strong. Here are the ways I provide support to partners:

Before labor:

  • It starts BEFORE labor starts! Talking over partner (and birth giver’s) fears, concerns, and questions during prenatal visits

  • Coming up with ways for partners to cope with stress during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum

  • Helping identify ways for partners to emotionally support the laboring person during stressful moments

  • Identifying ways for partners to support in early labor, so they feel confident before the doula arrives

  • Teaching comfort techniques to use throughout labor, such as massage, counting breaths, positive encouragement

During labor:

  • Reminding partners of birth preferences and coping skills during labor

  • Reminding partners to stay hydrated and nourished

  • Encouraging partners to take breaks or get fresh air as needed

  • Helping answer questions about what is “normal’ during labor

  • Helping clarify hospital staff communication as needed

  • Assisting in physical support during long births - taking turns with hip squeezes and massage

  • Helping navigate decision-making during labor

  • Providing emotional support during challenging labors

After labor:

  • Helping process the birth story (partners need this too!)

  • Answering questions, providing resources, and offering moral support during postpartum

Many birthing people tell me after having their babies that having a doula present during labor helped alleviate their stress, knowing that someone was there to also support their partners. It is important for birthing people to feel as relaxed as possible – this actually helps labor progress! I have supported partners who have intense medical anxiety. Having an extra support person allowed them the space to address their own emotional needs in the moment without feeling like they were abandoning their loved ones. I have assisted after a partner received his second COVID vaccine and was unable to be as present and physically supportive as he wanted during his wife’s birth! Having a doula there gave him permission to rest – and be present and ready to jump in once the baby arrived. This also meant that his wife was never alone. I have also given my support when partners are extremely involved during labor, stepping back to allow that bond to flourish, helping ease parents’ minds as they bring their babies into the world. Each circumstance is different, but the goal is the same – to help BOTH parents feel secure and comforted during a time of uncertainty and heightened emotions.

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