A Doula Helps Dads Too
Often when we think of doulas, we think of their role as solely supporting the mother. But this is not the case. We are here to support both parents and especially when the other parent wants to be as supportive to their partner as they can. We can help them to feel informed, confident and included in the journey that is just as important for them.
Here is an account from a wonderful dad that I supported alongside his wife and how it felt for him going through the life changing experience of becoming a dad but also what having doula support meant to him.
“My wife and I had been through a rough ride to reach this point in our lives. Mentally we had to deal with constant anxiety associated with a daunting, repetitive processes of fertility treatment.
There was always the stress of anticipation and hope, often followed by huge disappointment, and even trauma and grieving because of loss.
Add that to the huge physical demands of fertility treatment that my wife had to experience in addition to juggling busy professional lives whilst also trying to offer support to other family and friends in need. We’d been on some journey. Finally, we got the news we’d hoped for and we were excited (whilst cautious) about starting our own family. Then the C-bomb hit. COVID-19 came in with anger and we were in lockdown.
We desperately wanted this pregnancy to go well, protecting ourselves from risk of the unknowns of the virus. We pretty much went into shielding and we were met with support from family, friends and neighbours. They’d turn up with shopping, meals, gifts or just a doorstep chat to help us through. For that we’ll be forever grateful. My wife wanted to be as informed as possible about her pregnancy and birth process. She’s a real planner, loves a spreadsheet and she’s a sponge for information. Having as much knowledge as possible gives her more control of the process and more confidence for the best start to our family journey. This was even more important for us as we’d had some initial complications with the pregnancy and COVID-19 took away a level of control that a new mum should be entitled to.
We immersed ourselves in hypnobirthing, NCT classes, podcasts, books. You name it, we were trying to gather as much info as we could. But there was something else that Annie was keen to explore, the help of a doula.
We’d had a little bit of an idea of what a doula does but my wife was keen to explore it more. Initially I wasn’t sure, but I quickly learned it’s best not to mess with a pregnant lady in a lockdown and so we got on the hunt for a doula’s help. After some searching we found Lorraine. We were a bit restricted in how Lorraine helped us but we are grateful she was there. She quickly become part of our journey. She is a ‘friend in the know’ of all things to prep for birth and the much-anticipated arrival of our baby.
Before the baby’s arrival she helped us explore our birth preferences and helped try and navigate COVID-19 restrictions. She gave advice on what to prep for when we all got home and after our boy arrived. She helped me with advice on negotiating some difficult experiences of birth. She was always just a Zoom call or a text message away.
She walked with my wife on lonely lockdown days and she talked with us about whatever we needed. We all went on an emotional rollercoaster together. And that’s the important thing for dads. Yes, a doula is traditionally there as primary support for the new mum but, Lorraine was a crucial part in my journey and made me part of the conversation.
This made things feel simpler, less daunting and helped me with the ‘oh shit’ moments. I was mentally prepared and if there is one key thing that dads need to be ready for too, it’s the psychological journey. I doubt many men will know that postnatal depression is a thing that can happen to them. This is even more likely to occur given the pressures and restrictions we now all face because of the pandemic.
So, Lorraine helped me talk, to be inquisitive, to be as ready as I could be. And if there is one takeaway I’d give to another dad at any point of his journey is, talk and be inquisitive. As well as building the pram, painting the nursery, and packing the freezer full of soup, get your head ready too."
Thank you Mike for not only sharing your experience but for also highlighting the importance of dads looking after themselves and their mental health. Becoming a parent deeply affects who we are as people. Parenthood can be a huge transformation that should be honoured and well supported.