Doulas – Part Deux

Okay so last week I did this post on doulas. Apparently it was a tremendous hit with the [ahem] doulas, if the comments are anything to go by. Of course that could just be my mother-in-law, but I don’t think she knows you can sign in as anybody.

A few of you took issue with my calling doulas crunchy. I don’t think I ever wrote that all doulas were crunchy. But let me take this opportunity to clarify and make one thing explicitly clear: doulas are the crunchiest bunch on the planet. If you all were a cereal, you’d be granola sprinkled onto a big bowl of Cap’n Crunch. If you were a hip-hop band, you’d be Marky Mark and the Crunchy Bunch. You want evidence? Think about it:

Doulas are the only people who can consistently keep their composure in the wake of a deafening fart. Lord knows pregnant women are gassy. A doula may as well be guarding Buckingham Palace for her ability to hold the thousand-yard stare in the face of a fart. There are doulas reading this now who aren’t even laughing, and are like, “What’s so funny? It’s perfectly natural. Why was this forwarded to me?”

Peggy wrote in to commend me on the thematic brilliance of the accompanying illustration. Embarrassingly, I was unable to credit the source, because my wife found the image and she has no use for sources. (Sarah finds most of the blog’s images.) Neither of us had any idea what it represented. Funnily enough, Sarah didn’t much care for the illustration, and instead thought I should go with the uterus plush toy:

Anyway I meant to reply to a bunch of you, but the week got away from me. Let’s just say a lot of women either are in urgent need of soothing vaginal gel-packs, or else they just enjoy typing the words. (The sweetest feedback on the gel-packs came from Melanie, who emailed to say “[t]hey’re a little bit of heaven in my pants.”)

Then yesterday “Kev” left this comment. And rather than maintain radio silence I thought I owed Kev and all of you a response, however hurried. Kev wrote:

Here’s another dad’s perspective, based on our experience talking to doulas:
For all the benefits a doula can bring, some dads (and some moms) don’t respond very well to sales pitches based entirely on the condescending premise that dad will be useless.
Sure, some guys are happy to write blog posts joking about THEIR uselessness. They were told they would be useless and they were okay with that. I wasn’t.
We were left feeling like I was being discouraged from taking an active role in this very important event. We would have liked a sales pitch that assumed that I was at least marginally competent to be present. We felt like they just assumed I’d end up drooling in the corner.
We got the same treatment with wedding planning. How many wedding suppliers asked me why I was involved in the process when all I have to do is show up? We lost count. Didn’t hire any of those people.
If we were shopping for a car and the salesperson said to my wife “I’m surprised to see YOU here, women are useless with cars!” we’d get up and leave.

Hi Kev,

Thanks for writing. It sounds like you’ve had some unpleasant encounters with people. Please allow me to apologize on behalf of all bloggers, doulas, wedding vendors, and moot car salesmen. (You were kind to use the more politically correct “salesperson.” But in the example you provide, it’s okay to assume the person in question is male.)

It’s probably for the best that you didn’t have a doula’s help during childbirth. (Best for you anyway. I can’t speak for your wife.) But it’s important you know I wasn’t making a “sales pitch.” I am not a doula. Nor do I have arrangements with any doula-related service. I wasn’t trying to sell you on doulas. Rather, I was recommending doulas because they are amazing, yet their services are obscure.

For some blog posts I like to do research. For others I write from an intentionally narrow perspective: my own. This post was written in the latter manner. That is why I solicited corrections in the comments section. On the few occasions this young blog has provoked a stream of comments, the responses are invariably more profound and informed than the original post.

Had you read the many comments that came before yours, you’d’ve gleaned valuable resources and perspectives on a doula’s role during a C-section.* You would also know that doulas eagerly support both parents. Our ultradoula Angie was exceedingly sensitive to the uncertain and magical dynamic of expectant parents. Working within that framework, she even managed to enhance that magic. Like all great doulas, she communicated a feeling of privilege for being included in our birth process. There was never the triangulation you perceived, where the father is boxed out.

Lastly, you can take comfort in the knowledge that I was excitedly involved during the entire birth process, beginning with conception [wink]. That bit about dads being useless was an example of “comedic exaggeration.” Since no one has yet invented a sarcasm font, I rely on my readers to discern between hyperbole and useful commentary.

Please don’t take any of this as angry or attacking. I had been meaning to respond to some of the other commenters, and you provided me an opportunity to cover a lot of ground. And despite my snarky syntax (sorry, can’t help it), you are right that no father should be made to feel superfluous at his child’s birth. I only wish you had better luck finding a doula that was a good match. It would have been worth it.



P.S. Angie was also the only person in the delivery room with the wherewithal to note the exact time of birth. She also took a bunch of priceless pictures, these among them. They always evoke for me the first minutes of Fox’s life, when I was blindsided by the realization that all my hopes and fears were wrapped up in this tiny creature.
Check ’em:


* On this topic in particular, special thanks are owed to Cole, Shannon, Sarah, Michele, Kristen, Rosemarie, Tiffany, Barbara, Natalia, Lesley, and Ally, – for graciously saving readers from my ignorance.

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23 Responses to Doulas – Part Deux

  1. Michele February 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    “If you all were a cereal, you’d be granola sprinkled onto a big bowl of Cap’n Crunch. If you were a hip-hop band, you’d be Marky Mark and the Crunchy Bunch.” It’s a shame that I was laughing so hard at this part that I wasnt able to fully recover to laugh even harder about Mother Nature’s gift in pregnancy: farting.

    Once again, an awesome post and, once again, I cant wait to share with all my friends- doulas and not alike.

    And, to the poor father who felt like the doulas they interviewed boxed him out. That’s awful. It’s actually one of the reasons my husband doesnt like some of the “crunchy bunch” who assume that because he doesnt have a uterus, he wasnt pregnant too. But he was… In a different way of course, but I never felt like we were anything less than a team (just one where I did the heavy lifting!). A good doula, just like any good care provider, is there to work for and with you and your needs. It rains on my crunchy parade to know that there are folks out there who lose sight of the big picture- that it is the family (which includes mom AND dad) who need to be supported, even as our role (in the small picture) is supporting primarily the mom.

  2. Stephanie February 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    I absolutely love this blog and the Doula post got me hooked. Before I became a Doula, I had a Doula. She is what inspired me to become a Doula. She never once in my entire birth process did anything to “box out” my husband. She supported him so he could support me and together they were my dream team. Once I became a Doula one of the first things my husband did was sit me down and tell me that it was very important that we still have our Doula present for the birth of any other children we decide to have. She was so important to him through the whole process.

  3. Janet February 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    ‘Nuff said.

    I seriously love your humor. I was also laughing hysterically at the farting bit because let’s face it – farts are always funny. But yes, it is IMPERATIVE you not laugh when a woman in labor does it. I had a client fart in my face. Twice. With a bare bottom. Yup. You read that right. Good thing she was also a close friend or I might have walked out on her. :D

    Keep up the great posts!

  4. Lorie February 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Thanks for the witty blog on doulas. Having attended over 600 births personally, humor is as much an asset as experience! It sounds like you had an amazing doula present for Fox’s birth. One of the biggest compliments to the doula profession is for fathers to educate other men and spread the doula love. Thank you :)

  5. Jessica Austin February 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Just wanna shout-out to ya…. your “challenge you to a doula” article was gut-splitting, and I like that you took the time to acknowledge some of the more negative responses for it.

    As a birth doula who really encourages facilitating positive male participation in birth (I teach a prenatal workshop for men giving them some tricks of the doula trade to make them rockstars during labour) I really love that you were both an active participant and appreciated / enjoyed the added benefit of a doula. I blog sometimes about men and birth; if interested you can search for them on the blog portion of my website.

    Good work! Keep the posts coming!

  6. Jill February 21, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Love. Both of these posts about doulas were hilarious and spot on… for the most part :)

    I am a mama of three and had a doula at my first and third births. We had a midwife deliver the second, and my hubby handled his role as my labor coach superbly. But he was deployed for the third, so I invited a doula back into the picture. So glad I had her there.

    It is too bad that Kev had a negative experience interviewing doulas. We were really able to come together as a husband and wife team, thanks to our doula. She was able to instruct him in the L&D room, which allowed him to lead me down the path to the natural birth of our first, a son. Apparently, his was the only voice I could hear! Without our doula, we would have been lost… my husband LOVED having her there guiding, encouraging and even praying.

    love this blog. I will definitely pass the link to my husband.

  7. Kari O'Kane February 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    just: awesome.

  8. Lucy February 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Thanks for these articles–really enjoyable reading. We are planning a homebirth coming up in late April and are considering bringing on a doula in addition to our midwife and her assistant. Our potential doula (a very warm and kind person who is a bit crunchy and also a prenatal yoga instructor!) actually described her role as specifically to support the dad so he can better support the mom. She is very much about making the birth partner a central part of the whole experience. It’s unfortunate that one reader had a bad experience….

    Any thoughts from readers on bringing on a doula in addition to a midwife?

    • Doula Jules August 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Hi Lucy,

      As a doula who works with CNM’s in a hospital setting, I can say that midwives and doulas can have wonderful working relationships. Midwives and doulas have completely different roles. Midwives provide medical care for mom and baby. Doulas provide constant physical and emotional support for mom and dad. Midwives are not normally with the mom continuously unless at a home birth.

      Many doulas love birth work so much that they go on to become midwives. A great birth team works together so that mom and dad have the birth experience they desire.

  9. Melissa March 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I am a doula, and i think farts are hilarious. just sayin.

  10. Melissa March 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    P.s. RE: Lucy – a midwife is primarily there for your baby and to make sure things go smoothly with the birth. a doula is more of an emotional support person. the person who will hold your hand while your husband is taking a nap or using the restroom. she is the person who can answer your questions and answer dads questions when the midwife may be busy with something else. i think having both a doula and a midwife is an excellent choice to make. im biased, being a doula. but i can tell you that when i give birth in july, i will have both by my side, in addition to my husband, and i cannot wait!

  11. Doula_P March 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    Fabulous! I’ve been told I have a poker face while doula-ing.

  12. Stephanie C. March 17, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Love these posts and comments alike!!!
    Just want to say that no matter how crunchy we Doulas may be, our “opinions” take a side seat when we are supporting a couple through their journey. Our job is very much to advocate for their wishes and opinions, and not our own. A good doula will support you on your level, no matter where that may be ;)

    Great posts!

  13. ALYSSA FRITTS March 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I did not read all of the comments before mine and I am probably repeating, but…

    Good for you for not hiring a doula that felt you had no place!!! I am still new to this game, but the first thing I do is reassure dad that I am not taking over, I not pushing him out, and my job is to support him as much as mom! I encourage him to let me know how much or how little he wants to do. And let him know he can change his mind a million times from now until it’s all over with.

    Some dads literally sit in a chair and watch a game and come over for the baby in the arms. Some dads want to be there for everything. There is no right and wrong and you must hire a doula that makes both of you feel comfortable.

  14. Gaela April 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    I LOVE your blog! I just finished printing 10 more copies of your “Challenge you to a Doula” article for my prospective dad clients! I haven’t found one of them that doesn’t sit there nodding his head in agreement as he reads your story!. And the gel packs? My clients LOVE them. I’ve got to print off more copies of your recipe as well.

    To the poor dad that felt left out…I’m so sorry! When I interview my clients, one of the things I say is “Daddies need doulas too!”. My job is to help dad. In fact, I have T shirts printed up for the dads that say “Dad + Doula= The Perfect Birth Team. My goal is to help dad feel included, to help him bond with this screaming, wiggling wet thing he’s going to be taking home and to help mom and dad have a “spritual experience”…a bonding of their relationship.

    Crunchy? Well, if you compare me to the brand new nurse that I was 21 years ago, yep, pretty crunchy. Just coming out of school, I would’ve poo pooed aroma therapy, herbal preparations….DEFINITELY would not have recommended placental encapsulation! ;). BUT along with a little crunch (or snap crackle pop) certified doulas are very professional, knowledgeable and educated. Anyway..keep blogging! We need the publicity. Love you!

  15. Emily May 30, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    Um, you’re hilarious.

  16. Darla Burns June 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! It is important to know that doulas do and should make sure the father is involved in the birthing process as much as he wants to be/is comfortable with. I find that dads feel they can get more emotionally involved in the process when a doula is present. We are a team…ALL of us! Thanks for your support of doulas and for writing in such a humorous manner. We all need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and laugh’s good for the soul.

  17. Brooke January 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    You are too funny!!!!

  18. Lois Brown Loar May 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    So, don’t forget the postpartum doulas! I know we’re the unknown step-sister in some circles, but clients, both moms and dads, love us too!

    We’re the ones who come to your home, give mom and dad time to bond with baby while we do dishes and get dinner in the crockpot. We cuddle babies sometimes so mom and/or dad can get a nap in to prepare for those long nights.

    We help you learn to swaddle and give you books to read on babywearing and baby calming techniques. We teach no-cry bath solutions and how to breastfeed twins.

    Sometimes, we do night duty with twins. Sometimes we help an older sib make a pretty card for mom or learn how to hold a baby.

    We watch for postpartum depression, and if Mom is feeling sad, clue Daddy in to her needs.

    Doulas are amazing, and I love my postpartum job. And sometimes we’re crunchy, too. ;-)

  19. jocelyn January 8, 2014 at 12:51 am #

    LOVED THIS! I would also love to have some more info on those jell packs

  20. Kelly February 9, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    When we were going into it, we felt like it made sense to have someone with us in the room for the duration who was an expert in what would make the experience more manageable for me. Has nothing to do with believing my husband would be useless…just that he’s not an expert in childbirth and, as a first-time mother, neither was I. Having an expert there freed him up from having to pretend to be one and let him focus on his role as my husband and as his new role as father. That was way more helpful for us.


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