A father’s role in birth is very important. As Rose St. John says in her book, Fathers At Birth:
No one other than the mother is more personally and profoundly affected by the baby's birth than you are. As the mother's lover and the baby's father, you are connected to them like no other. Your role- to provide stability and refuge-is unique to you.
Your presence profoundly influences your partner and how she navigates through labor. As a vigilant attendant, you offer your partner tremendous refuge and have the power to alter how labor and birth unfold.
Because the man's role can make such a critical difference, it is important men have access to the preparatory attention they need to fulfill their role.
support and enhance the relatively new but vitally important role of a
father’s increased involvement in the birth of his child. The
father-to-be is expected to understand the process and language of birth
and hospital protocol, and be able to advocate for his partner and
protect her in an environment which is usually as unfamiliar to him as
to his partner. There is also often an expectation that he know how and
be able to emotionally and physically support his partner throughout
her labor. A doula can provide the information needed by parents to
make informed decisions and help dad to better and more comfortably
provide the support mom needs from him. She can also facilitate
communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her medical
Dad may not
understand a woman’s instinctive behavior during childbirth and
may become unsure and anxious by her actions or her obvious discomfort.
A father's instinctive response is to try to protect her and take away
her pain. The doula is able to support this innate desire and enhance a
father’s involvement, at whatever level he is comfortable, by providing
reassurance and guidance to him. She is able to make suggestions about
what kind of physical support measures may work best and how he can be
involved. She also can run errands for the couple, get him something to
drink, or give the father a much needed bathroom/dinner break/nap.
process of labor and birth are time of dramatic change and transition
for the father. A mother has been becoming just that, a mother, since
she knew she was pregnant. For fathers the actual birth of their child
tends to be a defining moment. He will likely have his own strong
emotional experiences during the labor process as he prepares to take on
the new roles of father, provider and protector of his newborn child.
Fathers benefit from a doula's presence and reassurance of their own
personal experience while encouraging and helping them to support the
Some fathers want to
be involved in every aspect of the birth process, from massaging his
partner’s back and feet, to supporting her leg or back while pushing, to
catching the baby. Others, while just as supportive and no less
loving, find it difficult to fill the role of “labor coach.” A doula is
able to help the father navigate this uncharted territory and help him
feel more relaxed and confident, no matter his degree of participation.
Ultimately, the doula will base her own level of involvement on the
wishes and desires of both the mother and father, being more or less
present and involved as needed.