Many of us have heard of the days when fathers paced in waiting rooms, eager to hear childbirth news. Now fathers can and do take an active role in childbirth, often attending childbirth classes and being present during labor. I am so grateful that my husband was with me when I gave birth. It wasn't just his comforting touch, or the fact that he knew me better than anyone else in the room. That day was a spiritual journey for us. We started the day as husband and wife and we finished it as parents. I needed my husband there for that transformation.
A doula does not replace a father's presence in childbirth. Nothing can replace the comfort and reassurance of the father or a closely connected loved one. A doula's role is different. Often times, doulas enable fathers to participate more fully at the birth by guiding fathers, helping them to understand normal behaviors during labor and reassuring them in the comfort measures they are providing for the mother.
I think many partners have it tough these days. In the best of circumstances, they take a few classes, read some books and talk to friends. Their training schedule lasts a few weeks and then "poof" we ask them to play in the superbowl of birth! A doula can help a father experience this special time with confidence.
It seems to me that dads want to particiapte in one of three ways: head coach; team player; witness. As a doula I can support him in any of those roles.
With your partner and a doula at the birth, you can have the best of both worlds: your partner's loving care and attention and your doula's expertise and guidance.