Posts tagged birth partner
How does a prenatal education class prepare DAD for birth?

" I wanted to take a class but he wasn't really into it!" 

Taking a prenatal education class is definitely NOT just for moms.  Dads have a lot to learn and typically don't spend as much time during those 40 weeks of pregnancy reading up on cervical changes, contractions, and other birthy stuff. But, if they want to be there for you during labour then getting on the same page is a must! 

So how can a prenatal education class help to prepare Dad to have a positive experience with birth and to be a kick ass birth partner? 

Peterborough prenatal education Hello Baby

Taking a class helps Dads know what to expect.

You will be the one giving birth but the birth of a child is an important experience for Dad, too. It is 100% normal for him to be emotional watching you labour. Watching someone work that hard and dig that deep can be tough when your partner doesn't have a good understanding of how birth works!  This is even more true when Dad is not sure if what you are experiencing is normal or cause for concern. Once you have taken a class, you will both have a solid understanding of the basics of birth and what labour can look and sound like. A good prenatal education class should help to answer your questions and take some of the mystery out of birth.

Taking a class helps Dads learn new skills to help during labour.

If Dad is your main birth partner, he is going to need to know what he can do to help you manage those contractions when they start to get more and more intense!  Some of his regular day to day massage techniques might help but sometimes you will need more targeted touch.  Taking a prenatal education class together means that Dad will have a chance to practice some new skills (usually called comfort measures) with you so he will know where to rub, press and squeeze for maximum pain relief while you labour that baby down! Being able to offer this kind of hands on pain relief really helps Dad step into role as your birth partner. 

Being on the same page means Dad can help you make choices along the way.

 A big part of being a birth partner is understanding birth and the different options and choices you will come upon as labour unfolds. When you take a class together, you are going into birth on the same page. It is not uncommon to hear from a Dad that he felt out of the loop or uncertain about what was going on at different times during birth. A prenatal education class will give Dad the language and tools to be an active part of birth and to feel included.  

Prenatal education is for Dads, too!

If you think you want to take a prenatal ed class but your partner is sitting on the fence, let him know all of the amazing information and skills he could learn by coming to class with you! 

Why would DAD want a doula?
Those beautiful first moments after birth. Photo by Steph Hayes

Those beautiful first moments after birth. Photo by Steph Hayes

Doulas support the whole team

When we talk about doulas and dads we, of course, mean doulas and any/every birth partner on the team!  Doulas & Dads just sounds catchy but this discussion applies to every possible birthing couple out there.  Doulas are there to support the person giving birth but a big part of that role includes supporting the birth team as a unit!  Chances are birth partners, family members, and friends invited to attend the birth will all need some TLC along the way and that can be anything from an encouraging look to a full-out hands-on demonstration on how to help the person in labour.  Making sure everyone is cool, calm, and confident is just one way a doula keeps the room a positive and supportive birth space.

Photo by Steph Hayes

Photo by Steph Hayes

Doulas do NOT replace dads.

We will go on record and say that even if we wanted to, we could never replace you as the birth partner and the unique role you have to play during labour and birth.  Doulas don't replace dads, we are there to back you up!  We are both there in the birth room with the same goal - to support the person giving birth in whatever way we can, as well as we can, for as long as we can.  We come to birth with different skills and can make an amazing team.

At first I was hesitant of having additional people at our birth for fear of it being crowded , but it wasn’t the case....Having someone that has been to multiple births and only goal is to support your partner is a must.
— Jeff Newhouse

We know birth.  You know the person giving birth.

A doula's job is to know A LOT about birth.  We have studied and trained to make sure that we know as much as we can about the different scenarios, choices, options, and "what ifs" as possible so that you can be present knowing you have someone to help you make informed decisions if/when you need to. We have attended many births whereas, chances are, you may be attending your first!  We are able to draw from that experience and help you support your partner in ways you may not think of.  Your doula will be there to guide and prompt you through your partner's labour so that you feel confident in your role and ability to help her while she gives birth.  

Not really knowing what a doula is or what they do makes it hard to understand and justify a cost. I think most people assume the doctor or midwife fills not just the role of delivering the baby but also a pastoral role, that they take care of the person giving birth, that they’re the authority giving comfort and instruction. But having now been at three births, I realize this is not the case at all.”
— Matt Hayes
Photo by Steph Hayes - A doula can guide partners into positions that feel comfortable and secure

Photo by Steph Hayes - A doula can guide partners into positions that feel comfortable and secure

You, on the other hand, may not know as much about birth but you are the expert when it comes to your partner.  You know what they like, what they hate, their fears, hopes, and birth goals.  You have been with them through pregnancy and you will be there with them when baby is born and every day after!  You can help communicate for your partner in the thick of contractions.  You can offer your partner a level of emotional support that no one else can.

Preparing for a home birth, this Dad was able to keep things moving knowing his partner was comfortably labouring with her doula. Photo by Steph Hayes 

Preparing for a home birth, this Dad was able to keep things moving knowing his partner was comfortably labouring with her doula. Photo by Steph Hayes 

Tag! You're it.

Giving birth is hard work.  Your partner is going to need physical and emotional support from the first contraction to the last push and that can be very demanding on you as the birth partner.  Having a doula with you during birth means that we can flow back and forth with different types of support. At times, your partner may need to hear your voice and see your face to push through a difficult series of contractions.  While you are busy providing that reassurance and love, your doula can be providing massage, counter pressure, or applying hot or cool cloths.  At other times, your partner may need to switch it up.  You can take over the physical comfort measures while your doula talks you both through breathing or position changes.

Birth is hard work for everyone! Photo by Steph Hayes

Birth is hard work for everyone! Photo by Steph Hayes

Eventually, you are going to need to rest, eat, or go to the washroom!  Having a doula around is perfect for these times, too.  You can refresh and tend to your own needs knowing that your partner is never left alone to cope.

Photo of Steph Hayes supporting a Hello, Baby! birth doula client as she nears transition.

Photo of Steph Hayes supporting a Hello, Baby! birth doula client as she nears transition.

Options, suggestions, questions.

Often, birth partners can feel left out because there is a lot going on and no one is communicating to them.  A doula can fill that gap.  We have worked with your health care providers before and are familiar with different policies, terms, and timelines.  We can interpret and make sure that you feel able to ask questions and voice opinions as needed. Your doula can help you work through decisions and ease communication between you and your doctors or midwives if you need some help.  

My experience was judgement free and all of my questions were heard. That support in the room during birth is so helpful. It worked for us a reminder that we were seeing our birth plan through as closely as possible. It can be hectic and having more experience in the room (that’s not family) is grounding.
— Jeff Bray

The "Dream Team"

Photo by Steph Hayes - My hand one one should and her partner's hand on the other

Photo by Steph Hayes - My hand one one should and her partner's hand on the other

Having a doula on your team doesn't make your role less important; your doula allows you to focus on your partner and the birth of your child by holding space and offering support to you both.  When you and your doula work together, your partner is getting the best of both worlds and you can head into birth knowing that you are not alone.

If you want to know more about how a Hello, Baby! doula can help you and your partner during pregnancy, birth, and once baby is born CONTACT US!  We would love to work with you.

What's the difference between a doula and a midwife?

So... a doula is like a midwife, right?

We get this question ALL the time!  It's O.K. We get it and honestly, we take it as a great compliment.  Doulas and midwives are like peanut butter and jelly - we make a great pair!  At a glance, there are a lot of similarities between midwives and doulas!

Midwives and Doulas are both:

  • people (usually women) who support you through pregnancy, birth, and after baby is born
  • there to help you get the information you need to make the best choices for you
  • able to work with you in your home or at a hospital
  • passionate about positive and empowered birth experiences

With all of those similarities it can be tricky to spot some of the key differences between midwives and doulas.  So, let's take a closer look!

Peterborough doula Hello Baby

What is a midwife?

A midwife can be your primary health care provider during your pregnancy, birth, and for the first several weeks after your baby is born.  Your midwife takes the place of an OBGYN and is responsible for your health and the health of your baby from pregnancy until about 6 weeks after birth.  Midwives usually work out of clinics which may, or may not, act as birthing centres and you will be connected with a team of midwives which means no matter when your baby is born, someone you know and trust will be there.

What kind of training does a midwife have?

A midwife has completed extensive education through one of seven recognized midwifery education programs by the Canadian Association of Midwives.  This training includes training in a four-year University program and a one-year mentorship with an experienced midwife.  Once her/his training is complete, a midwife practicing in Ontario is licensed by the College of Midwives of Ontario and can begin working with a practice.

Can a midwife do everything an OB(GYN) can do?

During your pregnancy, you will have access to all of the same tests and screenings as you would if you were under the care of an OB including ultrasounds and genetic screening and all standard lab tests.  When the results of the tests come back, it is your midwife who will discuss the results with you and help you make your choices.

During your labour, you have lots of options for pain management but there are certain things your midwife cannot do for you.  Pharmaceutical pain relief (like epidurals and narcotic pain medications) and inductions other than a membrane sweep have to be done in a hospital setting either by or with permission from an OB.   The level of involvement an OB has in these cases depends on the type of "privileges" your midwifery team has at any given hospital. 

Midwives have hospital privileges in Ontario hospitals. This means that they can admit and discharge clients at hospitals and access hospital resources needed by clients, including a consultation from a doctor if there is a concern or complication. Midwives are the only health-care professionals specifically trained in out-of-hospital birth.
— Ontario Midwives

As you would assume, a cesarean surgery would not be done by a midwife, though she can attend the birth with you and your birth partner in most cases.

What is a doula?

A doula is a great addition to your birth team!  Doulas are women (though there are some male doulas who have recently started practicing) who are passionate about helping you have a positive and empowered birth and have the knowledge and the skills to help you make it happen!  A doula is not a medical professional so you will still need either an OB or a midwife as your primary healthcare provider during your pregnancy and birth.  

A doula supporting a labouring woman and her birth partner.

A doula supporting a labouring woman and her birth partner.

What training does my doula have?

Doulas complete a certification program that includes "in-class" training, extensive reading, practical experience, and writing (and passing!) an exam through their chosen training organization.  As part of her training, your doula learns about the physiological process of birth, the various interventions you have to choose from, pain management techniques, newborn care, breastfeeding support, identifying and supporting common mental health issues and more.  Your doula might also be a certified Childbirth Educator, or hold other special certifications; just ask her!

Can a doula do the same things a midwife can?

Doulas and midwives have different but complimentary roles.  Your doula will not be doing any of the medical checks or charting that your midwife does; things like cervical checks and fetal monitoring are not a doula's "thing". What you doula does have is a deep understanding of birth and how to support and guide you through it.  Your doula can: 

  • help you review the benefits and risks of any choices you have to make
  • hold your hand during checks and tests
  • explain what's happening to your birth partner so they feel informed and involved
  • suggest different ways your birth partner touch or speak to you as you labour
  • work alongside or take turns with your birth partner to make you as comfortable as possible
  • reassure you that the sensations and emotions you are feeling are a normal part of birth
  • keep you focused and motivated to continue birthing when you feel like giving up
  • stay with you when the other members of your birth team need rest or food
  • be as "hands-on" or as "hands-off" as you need her to be.

Why do doulas and midwives make such a great team?

Remember how we said doulas and midwives were like peanut butter and jelly?  Here's why. Both midwives and doulas are focused on helping you birth on your own terms.  They both know that a well supported woman (or birthing person) will have a more positive and empowered birth experience so they are able to work together (or around each other... over each other ... and even under each other) with ease.

So... what's the difference between a doula and a midwife?

In a nutshell, your midwife can focus on your health and wellness.  Your doula can focus on your comfort and confidence.  When all of these factors are well managed and supported, birth can happen however you want it to!

Have you booked your doula yet?

If you would like to know more about Hello, Baby!'s team and how we can support you and your birth partner through pregnancy, labour, and the first year with your baby click HERE to contact us.  We can't wait to work with you for your best birth.