A woman's spouse or partner is such an important part of her support team, and often in interviews we get to the topic of dads and doulas. Some dads are eager to attend the prenatal appointments, while others may not be available, or interested in the process at all. Every dad, every man, every partner is different, and as a doula, it's my job through our prenatal appointments to have a good understanding of how the partner will (or will not) participate in labour and delivery.
What is the dad & doula dance?
It's a light hearted term I use with my couples as an ice breaker, particularly when I'm talking to the partners. It is true that in the prenatal appointments a doula spends most of her time interacting with the mom to be, learning about her hopes, fears, and wishes for the pregnancy. Discussing pros and cons of interventions, perhaps working through a birth plan. Sometimes the partners are fully involved in all aspects of this, other times, they are not. However, the reality is, that during those few prenatal visits, I have to try to get a sense of the partner/spouse, what his thoughts and feeling are on the coming labour and subsequent arrival of baby, and what he (and mom to be) want his role to be on labour day.
How do I involve dad at the prenatal meetings?
Well first, I make no assumptions. If I want to learn about dad's feelings regarding the pregnancy and upcoming labour and delivery, I ask him. When I ask mom about her fears and concerns, I ask dad what his are. I also ask him what he hopes his role will be during labour and delivery - and assure him that I am there to empower him as well as mom during this process.
I show partners a number of positions that we may use on labour day. I show them how they can be involved, how we can work together - dad & doula as a team. The partner knows all (ok, maybe not all) of my moves before labour day, and I'll adjust my role during the dance to let him lead, or, I may always lead... it just depends on dad.
It is not my place as a doula to take away from the incredible and intimate moments that a woman and her partner experience in labour. It is my job to hold the space, to fill it in when needed, to empower, guide and to work together with the partner to create the best support team that we can be for mom.
And so we dance.