Why do I need a doula if I have a super awesome and enthusiastic husband who is committed to attending childbirth classes and learning how to be supportive during birth? Plus...we're not sure we want an "outsider" in our sacred birth space. And it's just so expensive to hire a doula. How in the heck can we afford it? It's an LPI (low priority item) considering everything else we need before the baby arrives.
These are things I can imagine are said by many moms and dads when considering the possibility of hiring a doula. So, may I take a moment or two to explain the different roles a doula and a spouse play during birth?
What does a spouse offer that a doula cannot? First, husbands have love for the birthing woman and the baby. They have an emotional connection that is stronger than the connection between the woman and doula. The history shared between the husband and wife create a deep connection which is a needed element in childbirth. Husbands are knowledgeable about how their wives deal with pain and stress. They know what challenges her and know ways to support her. Encouraging words spoken from a husband to a wife during labor give her strength and bring her peace.
What does a doula offer that a spouse cannot? Doulas have extensive experience with the birthing process and have specific skills to help a birthing mom physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are skilled in communication and comfort techniques and are "one step ahead" in anticipating what may be needed next. Doulas help dads so that they can be the best support to their wives. Dads can breathe a sigh of relief and actually enjoy the birth knowing that a skilled professional is there 24/7 when other medical staff come and go and might be unavailable when needed most. With a doula, dads can eat, rest, and take breaks knowing their wife is still fully supported. Doulas keep the birth space quiet, intimate, and as undisturbed as possible so that labor can progress and the birth experience is one that is positive. It is common to hear dads say "I don't know how we could have done this without a doula".
Hiring a doula you trust and connect with can be an awesome step in creating your birth "dream team". Most doulas are happy to meet and chat with you to answer your questions and help you to discover whether or not hiring a doula is right for you.
Disclaimer: I frequently use the word dad/husband/spouse in this post. I'm fully aware that not every mom is fortunate enough to have a supportive spouse/baby daddy in the picture, so feel free to replace these words with "friend, partner, mom, etc.".