Q & A

Mark Gelbart, Photographer

Q. Does a doula replace the woman’s partner?
A. Absolutely not.  A doula supports the woman’s partner, freeing both parents to focus on the main event.  She provides information as needed, helps to facilitate communication with care providers, and, as someone who has attended numerous births, offers experienced reassurance and encouragement.  She respects and supports the intimate, life-changing process that creates parents out of both the woman giving birth and her partner.

Q. What exactly does a doula do that I can’t?
A. Think about it this way: a doula is like a wingman.  She’s been in this territory many times and she knows childbirth.  A dad, on the other hand, knows his partner best.  Your doula guides you through unfamiliar territory—charting a path with secure footing for you and your partner.  Dads can offer love and support, while doulas bring professional training and education dads can use to even more effectively support their partners.

When the mother is in discomfort, your doula would suggest ways the dad can help soothe her—pressing on her hips just so, trying a breathing technique or recalling a positive memory the mother can focus on.  Your doula will step in so dad can take bathroom breaks or make food runs.  When dad has questions, she will provide accurate, unbiased information about what is happening with the birth and any options that may be suggested by care providers.

Remember, a doula is not a medical professional—she doesn’t make diagnoses or administer treatments.  She is there for physical, emotional, and informational support—on your terms.

Q. What do dads say about doulas?
A. Many dads are naturally skeptical about having an additional person in attendance for such an important event.  After having a doula, though, they were overwhelmingly happy they chose to hire professional support—in one high quality study, dads rated their experiences with doulas as 93% “very positive” and 7% “positive” McGrath SK & Kennell JH. A randomized controlled trial of continuous labor support for middle-class couples: effect on Cesarean delivery rates. Birth 2008; 25:3. That’s quite an endorsement!

Q. What does research say about doulas?
A. The research is unequivocal: the presence of a doula helps reduce the chances of Cesarean by up to 28%, the chances of a baby having to admitted to a NICU by up to 14%, and the chances of the mother being dissatisfied with her birth experience by up to 34% (see “The Evidence for Doulas,” a comprehensive article from Evidence Based Birth).  The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists called doulas “one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes,” citing studies that included more than 15,000 women (see “Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery,” a 2014 Obstetric Consensus Statement from the nation’s obstetricians and maternal-fetal medicine specialists).

Curious about what the moms are saying?

Curious about what the dads are saying?

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