Photo by flequi, used under Creative Commons license.
I’m only 13 weeks, so this is super early, but I’ve been thinking about how much I’d like a doula with me during labor. I’m not super crunchy, but I plan on having an unmedicated birth and I’m really happy with my choice in hospital and doctor. However, I also think a doula would provide even more support and make it as close to the experience that we want as possible. (There are no guarantees and I’m going to be flexible, but we can try, right?)

Well, the only problem is that my husband is not down with me getting a doula. It’s not the idea of them (he thinks they’re super helpful) or the cost, but the fact that he thinks he can be the advocate and support I’ll need during the birth. I think he’s amazing and absolutely will be great during the birth… but I don’t know that he’ll be able to remember everything from class, worry about me, worry about the baby and advocate for our birth plan while dealing with how he’s about to become a father!

We’re still talking and will probably interview some doulas before we make a final decision, but part of me feels terrible for possibly talking him into something he really doesn’t want. Another part of me is terrified that if we don’t have a doula and he isn’t able to be as supportive as he wants, I might resent him for it.

Am I being selfish, and will I regret not giving him the birth he wants too? I know it’s my body and I’m the one doing the work, but it’s his first kid too and I want him to be as involved as he’s able. — Alyssa.

Comments on I want a doula, but my partner doesn’t. What to do?

  1. My husband and I were the opposite– HE wanted a doula, I thought he would be enough support! In the end we did hire a doula, and I’m so glad we did. They played different roles… my husband supported my weight when I was squatting during contractions while she read me hypnobabies scripts, for example. When he took a break (during 18 hrs of labor!) she was with me, and vise versa. Also don’t underestimate how helpful it is to have someone there who has been to hundreds of births and can reassure you when weird things happen along the way!

  2. As a doula, I’m a little bit biased in this, but I think doulas are an invaluable tool! Most doulas will do one or two prenatal visits with you and your partner, to help figure out what you want your birth experience to look like. We suggest books to read, classes to take, movies to watch; any and all forms of making sure everyone involved is as educated as possible!

    During the labor, most doulas would be with you from early labor on through after the baby is born. We not only hold the space for you, but support you and your partner, physically and emotionally. We can suggest a miriad of positions to help keep you active during active labor, relaxation techniques to help keep you calm during and in between contractions, bring you food and water to keep your energy up, hold your hair when you throw up, you name it. Our job is to NEVER replace the partner, but to help encourage the partner (if you have one) to be more active, knowledgable, and supportive during your (likely) long labor. If decisions need to be made, we cannot speak for you to medical staff, but we can ask them to give you a few moments to discuss the options available, and to help remind you of what you wanted.

    After the delivery of your baby, most doulas spend two or so hours helping you to get settled and comfortable; if you birthed at home, most times we’ll even start that first load of laundry and dishes, take out the trash, whatever we can do to help your new start!

    Doulas come in every price range, and can be found everywhere! We love, love, love helping families.

  3. I agree with all the comments in favour of a doula, and just wanted to add that even if you have a very short birth (as I did the 2nd time), once the baby is out, if they take her/him to check anything, you will probably want your partner to go with the baby, but you’ll also be glad to have a second someone to hold you or whatever you need at that point.

  4. I wish I had a doula at my birth. In the end, my husband and support were so worried about me that no one remembered what I wanted, and the doctor was so busy, she didn’t have time to sit and tell me what was normal or suggest pain remedies that didn’t involve an epidural.

  5. Just a different perspective–my husband and I were similarly undecided about doulas and ended up not getting one. And it was great–I really ended up only wanting him there. We’re a really good team and I trusted him in a way I don’t trust other people. As for labouring, I ended up just wanting to do it on my own. All I wanted from my husband was hugs or pats so I felt his presence.

    If you’re an independent person who likes to do things yourself and you don’t take direction well, perhaps you’re the kind of person who’d do fine without a doula. But it really has to do with the kind of person you are, not the kind of person your husband is.

  6. If your husband wants to be your main support during labor, a doula is a good way for him to achieve that. Many men want, so badly, to be helpful during the labor, but just don’t know how. Doulas will typically show a dad how to do the hands-on support, not kick him out to help out herself. And taking turns, in case of a long labor-which most first births are- can be invaluable. I hope your guy comes around… the best, safest birth for you and your baby will happen when you are as relaxed as you can be. So whatever gives you the most peace of mind will be the right solution. Good luck and congratulations!

  7. I think my husband initially felt the same way but I can safely say that he was VERY happy that we had a doula! I always felt that although the doula was there for me, she was also VERY much there for my husband! I had a TON of intense back labour for like 10 hours and basicallu needed someone putting constant pressure on my back at all times. My doula was able to this and my husband was able to be “with me” the whole time-he was by my face and was able to rub my shoulders and move my hair, get the fan, water, blanket, whatever (and they could switch off with each other). I felt like I was so connected with my husband because my doula was there. I also wanted a doula so that we would have someone who had been through birth before and knew what was normal and not. She was also able to offer positioning suggestions that my husband (although incredibly supportive) would not have known would help given the progression of things.
    My husband would be the first to tell you that it was the best money we’ve ever spent-and that he doesn’t know if he’d have been able to give all the physical help I needed-and it enabled him to be “with me” 100%!! I HIGHLY recommend a doula-and absolutely have your partner meet with her too!!

  8. I just had a doula-assisted birth, and both my husband and I can confidently say that she was invaluable. He was a little dubious at first for similar reasons to your husband. He was confident that he could be all the support I needed and he felt fully prepared and had been really actively involved in all the learning/planning I did throughout the pregnancy. Through conversations with the doula, however, he realized that having her involved was not bringing in any kind of replacement or surrogate; it was adding another set of resources. She was willing to do anything and everything from go buy him a soda to hold my leg during pushing (both of which she did gloriously), and she was another set of ears to absorb important information as it was given to us. As many others have said, have him sit down and talk with your potential doula. I’m sure she or he will be able to explain a doula’s role in a way that your husband finds to be as valuable as you do!

  9. As a mom who used a doula alongside a very capable and willing dad, I can’t emphasize enough how amazing and helpful it was (for both of us) to have her there. It was part of what inspired me to later become a doula and natural childbirth instructor. So the doula in me would suggest that you ask potential doulas for a reference from a dad or see if you can find a dad that would talk to your husband about the benefits from the non-laboring partner’s perspective. He might be surprised. I often say that one of my jobs as a doula is to make sure dad looks good by suggesting things he could be doing to comfort you. Plus I assure you that after an hour of doing hip squeezes on you he might appreciate an extra pair of hands to trade off with. Good luck. I have a feeling he will come around as it gets closer.

  10. I’m a little late to this party but I had to chime in. My husband felt the same about my mom as yours does about the doula. We talked it out a few times, me just taking in what his concerns were, and when it was about two months from the finish line I gently put my foot down… With both of them.

    I told my mom I wanted her there but he was worried about being undermined, even accidentally, so if I saw that happening I would have to ask her to leave. I didn’t anticipate a problem at all because she’s great with boundaries, but I had to be able to tell him that I drew the line on his behalf. When I spoke with him, I told him that this was ultimately my choice, because it’s my body doing the work and I don’t know how I’ll feel in the moment. I acknowledged that I may not want anyone there, but he would be the #1 coach and he could correct her if she overstepped.

    He got used to the idea, everything went great and she helped teach him how to coach me, and stepped back once he got it. I hope you can reach a good outcome!

  11. I don’t think you need to feel guilty if you convince him. You have shown you are committed to ensuring you have his support and consent, so it seems like you’re more looking to illustrate your position than to coerce him. And there IS a difference there! Saying “I want this for me for ABC and for you for XYZ, so I’m asking you to educate yourself and support me in this way (or at least be willing to make an informed decision even if you still don’t agree)” is different than “I’ll buy you that ___ you’ve always wanted if you cave on this.” The end result might be the same, but the feelings involved are totally different. The latter can easily breed resentment, whereas the former is less likely to, in my opinion.

    That being said, I feel like there are three votes here. Yours, his and the baby’s. As much as you don’t want to hurt his feelings, if you sincerely believe that the baby could end up healthier as a result of having a mama who feels that all the bases are covered, and as a result of making sure your husband has the support he needs while you’re busy–and you have the support you need if he needs to step away–then maybe you need to play that card.

    My recommendation is to ask him to communicate what his resistance is to the idea. Is he concerned he won’t be included in the birth process? That the doula will replace him and he will be relegated to boiling water? You also need to communicate the reasons you want this. Is it so you have a calm person around who is experienced but not medical? Is it so he has someone to talk to if you’re busy? Is it so your man can nap sometimes too? Get all that out on the table and then ask him to compromise: Meet with the doulas, and have them address their thoughts on all the issues the two of you bring up. If he can hear them explain that he won’t be relegated to boiling water, that’s a bit different than you saying it. Then he can make an informed decision. If he still disagrees, maybe it’s not worth fighting over. But if the reasons for it include the feelings and health of mama and baby, and his feelings are the only thing in the way, I think logic dictates that he accede the issue as being for the greater good.

    • very, very, very well said. you must be or often deal with a rational personalty type. this is how i get my hubby to agree to stuff.

  12. A doula does not replace your partner; s/he supports you both. My husband and I were so glad we chose to hire a doula. I wanted a natural birth but experienced some unexpected complications that were very scary for my partner. My doula was able to remain calm and objective even when my husband wasn’t. She was able to support and reassure him and was able to show him how best to support me. And when my OB attempted to pressure me into unnecessary interventions, our doula was able to back us up and give us the confidence to stand up for what we wanted. My husband and I both agree that without our doula, our birth would likely have turned out much different.

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