Doulas and Dads

Hi, I’m Pat, Martha’s husband.  Pictured on this page are some of the scenes as we and our kids welcomed our youngest to our family through a homebirth.

A few things to start...

First, this page is aimed towards Dads even though Martha and I understand that not all Moms and babies are blessed to have Dads that are willing, and/or able to be intimately involved in the birth journey.  This can be due to separation, estrangement, death, or a variety of other factors.  In this community and time, a very common cause is military deployments.  But, for those Dads (and, in the absence of Dad, those blessed close friends or relatives who support women in childbirth) who are able and willing to be active and involved, I hope this helps you to understand the services we offer and your role in the miracle of childbirth.

Second, just like Martha, I am not a medical professional.  I do not, nor do I have experience in giving medical advice, prescribing drugs, performing clinical procedures, or practicing medicine in any form.  What I can offer are my skills, observations, and experiences gained in my involvement in the pregnancy and childbirth journeys of our family and others, our personal research, and my assisting of Martha with the instruction of childbirth classes.  See our policies page for more information.

Finally, even if you’re not a Dad, you may find something in here that sparks further questions or topics that you might like to hear discussed from the Dad’s perspective.  If so, please feel free to contact me.  The best way is by e-mail: dads@joyinbirth.com

Does the Doula replace the Dad?

Absolutely not!  Hopefully, you are the one who knows Mom best and has the closest relationship with her.  The role of the Doula is not to get in between that relationship, but to complement it.  Martha’s goal is to help make the intimate experience of birth a joyful one that brings you closer together as a family.

Do Dads have a place and/or role at birth?

Yes!  The days of Dad pacing the waiting room in anticipation of the Doctor propping the door open just enough to announce the birth are over!  Mom needs you – to know that you are supporting her, protecting her, and a part of her team.  In his book, Husband Coached Childbirth, Dr Robert Bradley stresses the importance of the Dad being the support and advocate for Mom and baby.  Here’s what he said about Dads and childbirth: 

“You can’t beat a husband as a companion in labor… there is no better companion than the man she loves and I hope loves her.”

This belief permeates both Martha’s doula philosophy and our childbirth classes.

What is childbirth like for a Dad?

The easy answer is, “It depends.”  Probably at times it will be nerve-wracking and even intimidating.  At other times, it may be relaxing and quiet.  But no matter how your birth unfolds, I can say that our three births have been some of the most incredible, eye-opening, awe-inspiring, intimate, and love-filled experiences of my life. 

Won’t I get in the way?

Well, it’s possible, but with the right perspective and an understanding of what’s going on, you will be a benefit, not a hindrance.  Although there may be certain abnormal situations/emergencies when nobody but the medical team is allowed to be present in the room, modern hospitals and birth centers are designed with the expectation of Dad being present in “normal” childbirths. 

Can you recommend any good resources about birth for Dads?

I’m building a reference list for Dads.  In the meantime, here’s the details on the already-mentioned book by Dr Bradley, as well as another good book based on Dr Bradley’s work. 

Bradley, Robert A., M.D., Husband Coached Childbirth, Harper & Row, 1974

McCutcheon, Susan, et al, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, Plume Books, 1996.

This section is still being written.  In the meantime, I’m always available to answer any questions or discuss any topic from the perspective of the Dad (or Coach).  You can reach me by e-mail: dads@joyinbirth.com.   

Martha and I believe that the whole family has a role in the birth, and that the adventure of childbirth provides a wonderful opportunity for Dad to bond both with Mom and the new baby.


© A Joyful Birth 2013