I Challenge You To A Doula

No way you’re expecting a baby!? Holy crap shut up congratulations that’s awesome. You’re probably freaking out in anticipation of the coming rapture. But heed one recommendation to vastly improve everyone’s birth experience – yours, your wife’s… even your baby’s: Totally get a doula.

Unless you live in Berkeley you could probably use a refresher on what the deal is with doulas. Fair enough.

Doula. Rhymes with “hula.” A doula attends a birth for the express purpose of supporting the mother. Why is this necessary? Because you, the expectant father, are beyond useless. You may be all set with clipboard, whistle, and stopwatch – ready to play Birth Coach. But your skill set is more suited to the role of cheerleader. JV squad.

Consider: whenever you try a potentially lethal activity like, say, scuba diving or parachuting, you are paired with an experienced instructor possessing technical expertise. The same should apply when a woman attempts to extract a baby from her loins. Doctors and nurses don’t count, because their real patient is the baby.

A good doula is akin to a revered yogi. Except instead of Ashtanga or hatha postures, the doula guides a woman through advanced childbirth poses – like stepping through her own vagina.

Perhaps if I briefly delineate our experience, it can serve as a template for what you might expect.

Our doula, Angie, met with my wife a few times well in advance of our due date. They reviewed Sarah’s expectations for the pregnancy and delivery. During a subsequent session, Angie performed some reflexology thingy. It must’ve been some next level shit to have relaxed Sarah, because my woman is strung like a Stradivarius. The pre-birth meetings also established a rapport, which is useful during childbirth.

In the delivery room Angie was in her element. She had an array of techniques for mitigating the various stages of labor. These included relaxing massage, acupressure to spur contractions, and simply appreciating the moment. I’m pretty sure there was some other stuff, but to be honest the whole experience was for me fairly nebulous. I mostly provided moral support. Plus I conferred with doctors on important matters like where in the hospital’s vicinity one was likely to find the best takeout.

Shortly after we got home from the hospital, Angie paid us a postpartum visit. I thought she was just swinging by for a high-five. But it turned out she was checking on Sarah’s recovery from childbirth and adjustment to motherhood. It was also at this time that Angie gave us the recipe* for her soothing vaginal gel-packs. For my male readership, a brief explanation is in order:

For some time after a woman gives birth, she reportedly experiences the prolonged sensation of having been punched in the vagina by Mike Tyson. (I have not yet been able to validate this analogy, but I’ll let you know when Robin Givens responds to my text messages.) The soothing power of these gel-packs is difficult to convey. But try and imagine the cooling pleasures of Junior Mints as infused via the gentle exhalations of divine kittens.

Doulas do not stumble into their profession accidentally like, say, air traffic controllers. Their greatest passion is healthy childbirth. They have wisdom, and they have stories, (some of which you don’t want to hear). There’s a lot of overlap between doulas and midwives. But whereas midwives mostly attend home births, doulas are welcome in the delivery room of a hospital. (I can’t think of a compelling reason to enlist a doula’s services for a planned C-section. But I invite enlightenment and scathing criticism in the comments section.)

Doulas are generally a crunchy bunch. They often subscribe to some combination of homeopathy, New Age, and the redemptive pleasures of the Lilith Fair. Few besides doulas are more opinionated on the merits of ingesting a placenta. Even fewer swap afterbirth cooking tips.

The cost of a doula ranges from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. That might sound like a lot of moolah for a doula. But given the hours involved, it’s an incredible bargain even at the higher price range. It’s a curious quirk of American obstetrics that a doula isn’t deemed a mandatory component of all pregnancies, like ultrasounds. Maybe the profession should consider a name change. I propose ultradoula.

* For the full recipe, drop me an email and be sure and write the words “Soothing Vaginal Gel-Packs.” I’ll totally know what you’re talking about.

Haven’t had your fill of doulas? Catch my follow-up post, Doulas – Part Deux.

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100 Responses to I Challenge You To A Doula

  1. Naomi Thomas February 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Hilarious and so true! I laughed out lout at least 3 times and giggled a couple more. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Betsy February 11, 2012 at 7:33 am #

      Too freakin’ funny! Couldn’t wait to share.

  2. Dana K February 8, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Loved loved loved my doula, as did my husband. Great post!

  3. Ginger1 February 8, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Do you need to have a vagina to want a soothing gel pack recipe?

    • Daddy Confidential February 8, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Excellent question, Ginger1. Technically you do not need to have a vagina in order get the recipe. But you do need to prove you have access to a vagina.

      • Ginger1 February 8, 2012 at 11:26 am #

        I used to.

      • Ashlie Snyder August 21, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

        Hello there! I am VERY interested in this soothing gel pack recipe. My best friend is having her baby soon, and as we know- newly mothered vaginas need all the help and love they can get! Thank you!!

  4. Cole Deelah February 8, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I LOVE this post.

    “Consider: whenever you try a potentially lethal activity like, say, scuba diving or parachuting, you are paired with an experienced instructor possessing technical expertise. The same should apply when a woman attempts to extract a baby from her loins. ”

    You hit the nail on the head and I love the imagery:

    “A good doula is akin to a revered yogi. Except instead of Ashtanga or hatha postures, the doula guides a woman through advanced childbirth poses – like stepping through her own vagina.”

    Very much sharing!

  5. Cole Deelah February 8, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    oh, and about doulas and planned (or unplanned) cesareans:

    http://www.sagemama.net/uploads/Doula_Support_Comparison_for_Vaginal_and_Cesarean_Births.pdf :)

  6. IY February 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Our doula, who attended 3 of our 6 deliveries, is fondly known as our Jedi-Doula. The force is strong with her.

  7. Heidi February 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Brilliant! I loved reading this from a dad’s perspective.

    And as a doula (and cesarean mom) I think having that extra support in the OR can be wonderful for both parents. Here’s some info about it from the ICAN blog: http://blog.ican-online.org/2011/11/02/doulas-and-cbac-by-heidi-thaden-pierce/

  8. Jen February 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Alright… I am a doula and not all that crunchy, but I appreciate the endorsement anyhow. :-)

    And some of the moments I have felt needed the most have been in the case of unplanned c-sections. Families always need help coming down, emotionally, in Recovery…. and moms planning to breastfeed always need help getting all that goodness going while still groggy or wrestling with the remaining spiderwebs of IV lines/BP monitors.

    • nicole February 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      I had an unplanned c/s, and my doula was awesome. we needed LOTS of help getting nursing going, and I couldn’t have done it without her.

    • Kyna November 25, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      My first birth was a C-section. I have never felt more alone and abandoned in all my life than in the moments following the extraction of my baby. Cold and strapped down in an OR, my husband left with my baby, so proud and excited he was, to show all our family members while I finished the rest of the 45 minutes of sewing me up. DEVISTATING! Everything I had worked so hard to grow for the past nine months felt stolen from me and I was left, opened up, on an operating table while my husband got to give the baby his first bath, see our family members’ first reactions. Having had much better births since WITH a doula, there is NOTHING I wish more in hindsight than having my doula by my side during that birth to advocate for baby and daddy to stay with me, that the family and the bath could wait, and in the event nothing could have been changed, just having someone, anyone, left on my side of the curtain to hold me and hug me and let me cry would have made a WORLD of difference.

  9. Shannon February 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Too funny! Loved this!! Although I don’t fall in the crunchy category… at all… lol! It’s always good to hear that my theory is true… I’m really there more for the dads than moms…. it just *looks* like I’m helping mom! Heehee!

    Oh, and doulas can make a cesarean feel more like a birth than a surgery with a lifetime side effect… :-)

    • Christina October 9, 2013 at 10:18 am #

      Exactly what I was going to say. I’m a hip hop girl, but I do love trees lol
      We are not all crunchy but we do research and follow evidence based care.
      I have attended C-sections. I have been able to help Mom and baby have skin to skin and NURSE on the OR table. I have had to stay with dads if Mom did not do well in surgery and help him to skin to skin till mom woke up. I have helped to keep moms calm when things did not go as planned and we ended up in the OR. Some women panic, some cry for the loss of the birth they so longed for and they need a women to hold them, console them and most of all explain what is going on during surgery. Not all women have a husband and many prefer the Doula to be with them instead of a family member who is worried and emotional…

  10. Sheridan February 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    I love this take on doulas from a dad’s perspective. I had a doula with my last birth and my husband a I loved it so much that I became a doula. :)

    • christina October 9, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      ME too!

  11. Sarah Boccolucci February 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    I have been at a couple planned c-sections and found that those moms need extra support in dealing with their emotions/fears of the surgery. Most people don’t realize that you can have a birth plan even if you are having a c-section and I work with those women so they can feel empowered in a situation that most are feeling pretty awful about.

    In post-op I help mom’s find their voice in requesting their baby and add in skin-to-skin (even in the OR) and breastfeeding.

    Thanks for the great article!

    • Shannon February 10, 2012 at 10:23 am #

      This article is awesome! Thanks for writing it. About planned c-sections: I have been in both planned and unplanned c-sections and the as a doula know that this is a needed support. In the OR there is a lot going on. People gowned up and unrecognizable, commotion, nausea, feelings of loosing all the bowels, etc. Once the baby is out the mom wants to see the baby. Doulas are able to sit with the mom during repair and dad can be with the baby skin to skin. I describe what the baby looks like, show mom pictures, etc. Whatever is appropriate. The medical team is fixed on the mom and baby and their well being. NOT their emotional well-being, however. Having a doula in the OR helps the mother feel like she is still giving birth to her baby (because she is) and allow her to be involved. It is as important to have a doula in the OR as at a vaginal birth :)

  12. Michele February 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    I’m a doula, and I LOVE this… I’m going to share it on my blog, if you dont mind… because it honestly is a kick-ass article!

    As to a doula for a planned c-section… The baby will be taken to the nursery or NICU depending on circumstance, and the father/other parent may wish to go along… During this time, a doula can replace the partner at the mother’s side so that she is not alone while she’s being sewn up and taken to recovery, so that the other parent may be with the new baby until Mom is able to join the happy family. For my last birth, my husband went with our twins to the NICU. I would have been alone for the last half hour of my surgery (had it not been for a wonderful APU nurse who had become a dear friend) and I was alone for my hour in recovery until I could be taken to the NICU to see the babies. I had been a bedrest patient for nearly 2 months, so I knew the staff well and didnt feel uncomfortable without a doula/labor support person with me, but I know plenty of moms who would have preferred a trusted person with them at the end of their c-section/during their recovery time.

    Again- GREAT article!

  13. Adriana February 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    This is brilliant! I will definitely be sharing, even though I’m not in the crunchy spectrum of doulas. : )

  14. Doula_P February 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    This is great!!! Thank you for writing this.

  15. Kristen February 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    I loved this article! I have gotten just as many referrals by the Dads as the Moms!

    I ditto all the above comments on a doula’s presence during a planned (or unplanned) C-section. Women are still giving birth and still need support. And when then partner goes with the baby to recovery, the OR team isn’t concerned with the mother’s emotional health. Having a doula there to share in the birth experience and give emotional support is worth EVERY penny! And most doulas do not charge their full fee for planned C-sections either.

    And of course their postpartum care is great too!

  16. Rosemarie February 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    You did an amazing job. Very well written and funny too. Do I have permission to share this with my clients, especially the dads to be?
    In my 15 years of assisting birthing couples, I have had the privilege of assisting my mamas during a cesarean birth. When dad leaves at some point to be with the baby in the nursery, I am the one sitting by mama telling her what an amazing job she did and showing her pictures of her beautiful baby until they meet again soon. I am there to applaud her, reassure her, congratulate, encourage, and praise her.
    A mama can feel really lonely and scared in the OR as well as in recovery as everyone is busy doing what they are required to do for her well being and the well being of her baby. My prayer is that more and more hospitals see the advantage of having a doula present in the OR for mama. Change is slowly happening and I am hopeful in the coming years we will see more and more doulas present during a cesarean birth. What can really help mama is making sure she discusses her desires and wishes ahead of time with her care provider, so if a cesarean birth become a reality, the doula will have a better chance of assisting mama there as well.

    Blessings,

    Rosemarie DiMare
    Mother to Mother Services.

  17. Robyn February 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Great article. I will share if that’s ok. Real, witty and fantastic to hear from dad’s perspective. Thanks.

  18. Tracie February 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Great post! I love to hear a dad’s perspective on doulas. Just one clarification on midwives and doulas. Most midwives (CNM) actually practice in the hospital, though a few do birth center or home births as well. The main difference between midwives and doulas is that a doula does not do anything medical. Midwives (and doctors as well) catch the baby and watch over the mother and baby’s physical safety. Doulas are there for physical and emotional comfort for the mother and the birth partner, as well as to provide information about birth in general. Doulas work together with doctors and nurses to provide an encompassing support to the mother and her birth partner. Again, great post! I hope you get a lot of requests for the soothing vaginal gel packs. ;)

    • Jenna February 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

      I was thinking that same thing. Great post indeed… hilarious. Only clarification is the part about midwives and doulas and Tracie, you hit it right on the head :)

      • Daddy Confidential February 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

        Oh man I totally knew that one too! Thanks for the excellent clarification, Tracie. You rule.

  19. Tiffany (totally a doula) February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    You have this doula’s proper endorsement! I am only sort of crunchy, definitely not New Age, and loved your post!

    I agree with other commenters on the vital role of a doula in a planned cesarean. There is so much we have to offer in the way of support. One MAJOR factor is that mom never has to be left alone if Dad has to go with the baby to the nursery/NICU. Dad goes with Baby, scrubbed-up doula steps in and stays with Mom. It’s a beautiful thing.

    Thanks for the shout-out to doulas!

  20. Barbara Lehr February 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Some of my most appreciative clients are those I have helped through planned c-sections. Every birthing woman needs to have one kind-hearted professional who is focused entirely on her while she recovers from surgery and adjusts to motherhood.

  21. Jessica Austin, Birth Doula February 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Amazing post! Love your way with words! To make sure you choose the best doula for your birth, have a look at these good rules of thumb: http://www.birthtakesavillage.com/5-tips-selecting-vancouver-doula/

  22. Lauren February 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    My husband said we could hire 2 doulas if I tried to go natural again, if there were a next time. Well, there will be a next time in July… he will be reading this blog because he seems to have conveniently forgotten that statement.

  23. Sarah O February 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Hilarious! As a Labor Doula and a Childbirth Educator, I LOVED your description of our work with expectant mamas! But not all of us are considered “crunchy, new age, lillith fair” subscribers. Some of us are Traditional, Christ-loving mamas! We all love birth and mamas, though! :)

    Thanks for writing!

    • Natalia February 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

      Totally agree with you Sarah : )

    • Elishia M December 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      Hmmm, because anyone who ascribes to a healthy and all natural life style, has a spiritual connection to the world around them, and hangs out with the ‘Lilith Fair crowd’ (let’s call a spade a spade and say what that really means = copius amounts of body hair and fashions not purchased at your local mall) by default MUST not be “traditional and Christ-loving”….oh wait, but that description actually sounds a lot more like Christ himself then the current 500 club set does….hmmm food for thought.

      P.S. Your prejudice is showing. Christ doesn’t really get down with the whole judging others thing.

  24. Amanda February 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    This post was all warm and fuzzy and worthy of A Baby Story on TLC. I think it’s awesome what doulas do. While reading the post, I was left remembering my 2nd child’s birth. I had an epidural, we had the football game on, and all the nurses found excuses to come into my room and check the score. One nurse commented she couldn’t believe I was letting my husband watch football. I said, “What else is on TV on a Saturday during football season? I have an epidural. I’m good.” We’d been up all night since it was a midnight hospital run. I just wanted to nap, and football is perfect for that.

  25. Natalia February 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Lol! Love this. I am a doula and it is nice to hear true understanding and appreciation for what we do, especially from a father’s perspective. They can be hard to convince of the need for one.

    I also had a unplanned c-section recently and my doula was incredibly invaluable as my husband went to the nicu with our little one and she stayed by me, held my hand, wiped my tears, and gave me a play by play as to what was going on. In recovery she convinced the nurses to bring the baby to me (he had low blood sugar and needed to be watched) so that we could bond and I could try to nurse. She also helped me process everything during our postpartum visit.

    Great article!

  26. Jessi February 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Completely funny and true, thanks.

    From a semi-crunchy (but majorly into placenta ingestion) Doula.

  27. MotherWit Doula Lesley Everest February 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Loved this! I just love hearing from Dads how they found their doula beneficial to the birthing process. Our job is really to take care of Mom AND her partner. Hahaha, and yes, it’s true, we generally are a crunchy bunch. Seriously, I smell of patchouli, like right now! I have been a doula for 18 years and have attended a crazy amount of births (for a doula). It can definitely be hard to see how our presence may be needed in the event of a planned Cesarean, but I have to tell you that from all accounts, this can prove extremely helpful to the couple. While waiting for the Cesarean to occur, parents are usually very tense and nervous, so we do some massage and distraction, keeping everyone nice and relaxed. We talk about how even though the birth will be a planned surgery, it is still a really special experience…it is the day of your child’s birth! A wonderful thing! We keep the parents focused on that. While Mom goes into the OR to get her anesthesia we hang with Dad, who is sitting nervously in scrubs, doing whatever we can to keep him mellow, including taking pictures of him in medical looking gear for posterity. We wish him “the force”, reminding him to request skin to skin as he goes into the OR to support solo (doulas are usually not allowed in there). In surgical recovery we hang out facilitating breastfeeding with a stoned mama while Dad does the admissions, phone calls, decompressing, etc. It’s actually a busy day. A beautiful, stressful, emotional day, and it is an honour to be a part of it. For a planned Cesarean I’m usually at the hospital with my clients for an average of eight hours or so. So that’s what we do. Cesarean is just as much birth as one that includes labour, and our job is to support birth in all its wonderful shapes and forms :) Awesome blog, I really enjoyed it!

  28. Angie February 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Brilliant and funny and so true. Will share the link with all my birth-professional friends and dad’s to be. Oh and of course all the pregnant women out there who want a doula but their male partner doesn’t get why.
    Thanks for sharing!

  29. Victoria Gensheimer February 9, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    I absolutely love this. Are you sure you’re not really a doula?? Lol…
    This had me laughing and shaking my head yes the whole time.. Thank you for the wonderful description of what being a doula is
    really about.. Keep up the great writing.

  30. Amy February 9, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Getting a doula was the best possible thing I could have done for my delivery. My doula Angie was my anchor, adviser, stand-in mother, support, encouragement, and pinnacle of strength. I would have given up if it weren’t for her.

    If I had had to get a C-section, like the doctor was pushing me to do (thankfully I did not, but it was a close call),I would have depended on Angie just as much, if not more. I was, and still am, quite terrified of that oh so common surgery of cutting the stomach open!! I would have been in definite need of my doula’s calmness and guidance.

    Postpartum, she still played a huge part. She visited me a couple times as per our arrangement, and gave me a wonderful concoction to help me treat the awful case of rash I got after the birth (most likely PUPPS). I have no idea what was in that mix (some kind of flower, some oatmeal, who knows what else) but it felt and smelled heavenly. She also counselled me often regarding breastfeeding and answered questions when I had no one else to ask.

    If we have another child, we hope to have a doula again, regardless of where we are in the world!

    Thanks for writing a wonderful article extolling the wonders and necessity of doulas! I wish that the rest of the US could see it!

  31. Kathi February 9, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Thanks for writing from a partner’s perspective on this topic. Very entertaining piece! Shared widely. :)

  32. Angela February 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    fantastic article, and as a person with an unplanned c section, and an upcoming planned c section (unavoidable due to medical reasons) it was great to learn that a doula is still a support person I can count on. I am pretty crunchy myself and uncomfortable with the c section route and I’d love support making the process less a medical event than a birth event, even in an operating room. now to convince my husband- this article might help :)

  33. Danielle February 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    There’s not as much overlap with midwives and doulas as you think. Midwives are medical professionals that, where I live, attend home and hospital births. Midwives cover all medical aspects of pregnancy and labour. Doula’s are experienced support people. I had both midwives (the baby gets one too) and a doula at my birth. Having such a great support team made all the difference. I find Doula’s to be much crunchier. That said, I find midwifery care much better than that of an OB.

  34. Heidi February 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    I am a doula and not all of us are crunchy, ha! I am very “mainstream” and wear makeup, dye my hair etc. But my job is to help women and meet them where they are. I understand why someone would want to live a totally natural lifestyle, I just have a hard time living up to it myself. But how crunchy or not crunchy a doula is has no bearing on how well she can support a women in labor. All types of women give birth and need support and advocacy not just granola moms.

  35. Sheera February 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    This was so funny and so true! When I first told my husband that I wanted a doula for son’s birh he had no idea what I was talking about and didn’t like the idea. After the birth he thought that the doula was wonderful and has even told his other friends that they need to get a doula for their birth. As you said, ” Because you, the expectant father, are beyond useless. You may be all set with clipboard, whistle, and stopwatch – ready to play Birth Coach. But your skill set is more suited to the role of cheerleader. JV squad.”

  36. Amy Ward Brimmer February 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Thank you for writing THE BEST description about doulas I have ever read (or written). As a doula (now not in practice), I know how well you totally nailed the job description here. And thanks for keeping light in tone, while also maintaining factual information. Well done!

  37. Doula Sarah February 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I love it, perfectly put! I wish all Dads would read this!
    I would love a copy of that recipe, but the e-mail link doesnt work for me, can you send me a copy please? :)

  38. Reid February 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Hahaha thanks so much for this daddy’s take on things…. I agree that daddy’s should have a good wingman… er… wingwoman…. er… Wonderwoman! by his side during the birthing process. Watching his woman in pain can be hard for a man- especially in a setting where there are so many ‘authority figures’ buzzing around trying to manage birth rather then roll with it.

    Thanks for the doula props!

  39. Karen February 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    So wonderful to hear a Dads perspective on Doulas…and very funny!
    Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    From a not-so-crunchy Doula!

  40. heidi February 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    I love this post!! While I did not have a doula at either of my births, I am thrilled to see a father supporting the use of one. I do also want to comment that the dad is not completely useless at the birth, but you do need the right childbirth class to prepare him for his role and, in my experience, the classes provided by the hospitals don’t even come close to doing that. That’s where a doula can make all the difference between a birth that you want to remember and one that you wish you could forget.

  41. peggy doula February 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    I love your article, as well as your astute use of double entendre.

    But I am writing to comment on the awesome picture! In doula speak, they are using a human version of a rebozo (south american laboring shawl). So effective in helping mom’s push. May I ask where you found it?

  42. Ally February 10, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Love this!

    I just want to comment on the “having a doula for a planned C-section” thingy. I once had a client who decided near the end of her pregnancy that she actually DID WANT a repeat C-section rather than a VBAC (which she’d been planning for and had hired me to help her achieve). Of course, it was her birth and that is what SHE wanted to do, so I supported her. And my job then became making sure she had the best damned C-section in the whole universe! We coordinated with the doctor and rewrote her birth plan. There were certain drugs she did NOT want, and she wanted to hold the baby ASAP and be able to see the warmer. She wanted certain things to happen certain ways in the OR, so this was all coordinated with her doctor and the doc was pretty cool about it. I even went back with her to prep for her surgery- usually that doesn’t happen, mama is usually alone. She felt completely in control and at peace the whole time, all of her questions about anything were answered as it happened so she was completely informed, and while I advocate for normal, vaginal births, that was the birth she felt she needed to have to heal from her first birth. No matter how it goes down, having someone there to support you and give you information is always helpful, regardless of how you birth. However, I know most mamas who seek out doulas are natural birthers or VBACers, simply because we have such good statistics regarding decreased incidence of C-section, decreased use of epidural anesthesia, etc. Just wanted to give you an example of a planned Cesarean birth with a doula! :)

  43. Kara Shea February 10, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Like everyone else (or I think it was everyone else) let me laud you for this amazing presentation of doulas.

    People have already been clarified why and how doulas are beneficial in the OR so I’ll digress on that topic.

    Best of luck to you and your growing family and keep writing! It was kick ass to read something candid AND positive about childbirth.

  44. Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama February 10, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Love this! I’m emailing this to my hubby right now.

  45. Meagan February 10, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Loved this! My doula is now a dear friend and family member after attending our 3 previous births. She was one of the first people we called when we found out we were expecting #4! I call her my epidoula. Her acupressure knowledge got me through 24 hours of pitocin without pain meds for my third baby, and her encouragement and wisdom saved me from a C section that time, I have no doubt in mind. A good doula is worth her weight in gold.

  46. Sara February 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Thank you SO much for this hilarious and heart warming testament to doulas! We love you back! :)

  47. Kisha February 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Thank you for your enlightened male opinion on birth, the work of doulas and the many postpartum uses of the placenta! I know a grate placenta smoothie recipe that kept me from spiraling down into the depths of anemia after my second child was born.

  48. Kristi Doss, Certified Doula February 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    This was absolutely incredible! I laughed so hard at this. What a fun way to share such truths!

  49. Jeannie February 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    :) I love this article. I had 2 unplanned c-sections. After reading the comments I wish I had had a doula with me. I’m thinking I wouldn’t have felt so bad about the csections afterwards. And most likely would have helped me to succeed bf. But I have 3 beautiful children and I will not sit here and feel bad about what did and didn’t happen. Today is today, and today I am doing everything I can to raise them healthy and happy. And when they grow up and have their own babies I’ll provide them with doula services!

  50. Kev February 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    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.

  51. DoulaMegan February 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    I had to come check out your blog after you thought I commented on it, It made me wonder if I did and didn’t remember. WEll, looks like I didn’t, but OF COURSE had to click on the DOULA posts. I think it’s wonderful & I giggled a few times..
    I’m not TOO crunchy, but I think that’s a compliment to be labeled with that bunch. I’m so happy you &Your wife had a doula and that you had such a great experience that you are recommending it to others. Many people do not even know there is such a thing.
    Your new reader,
    Megan

  52. Kari O'Kane February 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Hi-larious! As a doula, I am so happy to read this. You rule.

  53. Rae February 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Awesome blog post! Love to hear the dad’s perspective! :)

  54. Jessica May 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Most midwives attend hospital birth, actually. While it is true that the vast majority of home births are attended by a midwife, it’s not true that most midwives attend home births. Most of the midwives in the US are Certified Nurse Midwives and they work in hospitals. Their clients have access to everything an OB client has access to, including the full range of pain medication, and a midwife’s role (whether a certified nurse midwife in a hospital, or a certified professional midwife in a home birth practice) is much closer to that of a doctor than a doula.
    Otherwise, great article!

  55. Tessa June 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I didn’t have a doula with my first and totally regretted it. I ended up with a section for no other reason that lack of education. Even though my husband and I felt like we knew what we were doing, nothing can replace the experience and education of a doula!
    Had a doula with my second and it was an amazing an beautiful experience. Will never do it without a supportive doula again, if I can help it.

  56. Darla Burns June 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    This cracked me up! I am a doula and not “crunchy” either. I see that others posted about the value of having a doula during a c-section, so I won’t reiterate. However, you may consider writing about the value of having a postpartum doula too! Postpartum doulas are the equivalent of a new parent manual to help educate new parents on baby care techniques, calming and soothing techniques, offer breastfeeding support, make sure mom is eating, sleeping, drinking (water, not margaritas!), etc.

  57. Viviana June 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Hey Thanks for that article… I feel truly loved for being doula

  58. The Oola Doula July 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I know I cannot possibly add something that has not already been said, but I just stumbled upon this site as my friend, who is also a doula posted it on fb. It is FREAKING HILARIOUS. I laughed so many times…out loud! I too, am not on the crunchy spectrum of doulas. I often look at it from a crunchy hemp granola- white wonder bread. I am more towards the white bread side, more like 60% whole wheat :) I ride a 49 cc Yamaha Scooter and I throw my “birth bag” on the back and I rip around town visiting babies and attending births. I especially love the title of this blog as at my day job somebody LITERALLY challenged me to a fake “duel” with swords, because they thought that was what “doula-ing” was! LOL!
    Keep up the great posts :)
    Pam the Oola Doula

  59. mary August 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Hey, Great post. I’m totally going to share it.

    PS. I’ve had a C-section and a VBAC, and Let me tell ya, If I absolutely had to have a second C-section, I would want my doula there, front and Center. The shaking (from the drugs.) The cold, (from the drugs) The knowledge that my uterus is sitting on the outside of my body while they sew it together……
    Let me just tell you, a C-section is the emotional equivalent of something horrible. I would definitely want my doula there with me. Especially so that my husband can see that baby after they take it away to fix me up.

  60. Erin January 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    On the subject of having a doula at a planned c-section: I was one once. Here’s why (and I hope to heaven this is an extraordinary circumstance).
    The parents were recent immigrants from a very far-away place. The mother’s birth history made a c-section advisable for this birth (their 3rd child). They both spoke English, but with a very thick accent and limited understanding of US procedures and norms. In short, they needed a friend there to support and guide them.
    As it turns out, when things turned south a month before the due date (severe blood pressure issues), daddy bailed and said he “couldn’t handle the stress” of being there in the hospital knowing his wife and child were in danger.
    I came to support them in their birth experience and ended up being the only person in the OR with mama when the little one was born.
    So… it happens.
    Thanks for your article. I enjoyed it very much.

  61. Crickett (yes really) March 23, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Too funny! You made my day! Lovely to have a man’s perspective in full living color! Not all of us are placenta eating, Birkenstock wearing earth mothers…many are. And you give men too little credit here. Your women NEED you there…they just need us too.
    C-sections are very medically based, but with a Doula present, they can be intimate and rewarding, barring emergency settings of course. Even so, sometimes that can be softened with support.
    Keep writing, we will keep reading!
    Thanks,
    Crickett

  62. Dana April 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Loved this entire post. You’re right on the money! I am a doula by the way. Perfectly put from a dads view.

  63. mare54 April 24, 2013 at 4:41 am #

    Excellent to get a dad’s perspective on this! I just wanted to add that even mom’s having a c section can greatly benefit from the support of a doula…….pre birth, a doula can give mom extra support and assist her in creating her c section “birth plan” and help her get all the information about anything she wants to include in her birth plan. At the birth, the doula can give her extra emotional support and be with her during the recovery period if dad goes to the nursery with the baby. Lying in recovery can be isolating and create anxiety…..so having a doula to fill in that emotional gap is beneficial to mom. After the c section, a doula can continue to provide emotional support and assist the mom in sorting through her feelings about the birth which is empowering and healing.

  64. Doula in Training May 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Hilarious! I’m so glad you and your wife had such a great birthing experience and appreciate the positive article about doulas. However, I must make a couple things clear, only to fight all the myths out there (which you haven’t necessarily declared in this article but haven’t cleared up either. )

    A doula is NOT a midwife, and really there is very little overlap. A doula need not have any training to call herself a doula. A midwife, however, is a trained medical professional. Never is the mother a “patient” of the doula, but a client. The doula cannot medically treat the mother. She remains a patient of the doctor or midwife. I say this to clear up the legalities and the roles of doulas and midwives, not to discredit doulas, whose expertise are incredibly valuable and often missing from trained medical professionals’ practice!

    Also a doula is not meant to replace the husband/partner’s support during labour. In fact the doula usually intends to support both parents at this time. Think of her as supporting you both so that you can support the mother.

  65. Judy Berger May 26, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    No scathing criticism here, but just a suggestion as to why a woman could benefit from a doula even for a scheduled c-section. I used to work as a childbirth educator at a hospital.. I showed up in recovery to visit one of my prepared childbirth students who had a c-section because her baby was breech. Dad was off to the nursery with the baby. There were lots of family cheering outside the nursery windows. Mom was being well care for by a nurse who was kind and professional, but that she didn’t know. She was so pleased when I came in. She was having chills, a common post-surgery thing. She was concerned about her baby. She missed her husband. She was so happy to see a familiar face. After that experience I started telling folks that there is an advantage to a doula even for a c-section. There is a certain comfort to having someone that you know and whose job is making sure that you are as comfortable as possible. I have often wished that I could have a life doula. She could use massage techniques when my feet or my back ache or tell me what a great job I am doing. Who couldn’t use a little extra support?

  66. Seth July 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Doulas are a cop out for dads who don’t want to man up and learn something

    • Daddy Confidential July 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      I guess you could say that about any hired professional: plumber, chef, neurosurgeon. And while you could maybe study and train to gain a doula’s knowledge before your partner gives birth, you will not acquire the same invaluable experience.

      Not sure whence your antipathy towards doulas (and the dads who value them), but it is misplaced.

  67. christina October 9, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    We are not all crunchy but we do research and follow evidence based care.
    I have attended C-sections. I have been able to help Mom and baby have skin to skin and NURSE on the OR table. I have had to stay with dads if Mom did not do well in surgery and help him to skin to skin till mom woke up. I have helped to keep moms calm when things did not go as planned and we ended up in the OR. Some women panic, some cry for the loss of the birth they so longed for and they need a women to hold them, console them and most of all explain what is going on during surgery. Not all women have a husband and many prefer the Doula to be with them instead of a family member who is worried and emotional…

  68. Martha October 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Great post!!! I think what some of the other doulas commented on, in a c-section sometimes a mom needs to feel she is still a part of the birth process. It can turn into a routine surgery for the doctors, nurses and others in the room. Often the husband is either grossed out and can’t look or too enthralled to explain to the mother what is happening. A doula supporting her through the process can help her to not undergo some of the depression that often follows a c-section. The lack of pain in childbirth sometimes dims some of the endorphins that help with bonding, breastfeeding and preventing depression, but when you feel more a part of the process, it can help prevent that.

    Remember that not all doulas are super crunchy! I am a doula and only a little crunchy!

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