It’s a bold assertion—but I really mean it. First, let’s take a look at your average first time dad (I'll use the word "dad" here for clarity, but am really referring to any non-birthing parent in the whole range of variety that such individuals may be): He’s probably never attended a birth, but watched a few on television, and heard intimidating stories from friends and family. He knows that his partner will be experiencing some significant pain in labor and is probably feeling fairly clueless about how to help. Even with childbirth education classes, many fathers are at a loss once things start getting intense at all. For some fathers that means the first few contractions as THEY realize this is going to happen for real!
Doulas take the pressure off dads. We can easily remember all of those positions that were taught in class, and when some might be a better choice than others. What to do for over the top back pain? The doula has you covered. The doula will also remember breathing techniques and relaxation cues. She helps the dad to provide support for the mom.
Childbirth education classes often teach to ask questions to avoid unnecessary interventions. I will tell you right now that it’s the rare individual indeed who can keep their head during active labor enough to ask questions of a doc about risks and alternatives. Doctors and nurses can be intimidating (even when they are not trying to be); the hospital is their regular place to be—their comfort zone. It is NOT the comfort zone of laboring mothers and their husbands who are watching their loved one in pain. Your doula can help you remember the questions and even remind you of what you said was important about birth preferences back at the prenatal meetings.
Many dads seem reluctant to care for themselves while their wife is in labor. Their doula can remind them to eat and drink in labor and take some bathroom breaks too! With the doulas' competent support, dad can feel ok about taking a nap during a long labor, or taking a few minutes in the hall to update anxious family members, knowing his wife is well cared for.
And finally, perhaps the most important reason that dads need doulas—because fathers need to be included in the birth of their child. Hospital births today involve many strangers with important jobs—the doc, the nurse, the baby nurse, the anesthesiologist to name a few. It can easily feel like dad is an auxiliary player—but he’s not! The birth of his child is an amazing miraculous event, and the doula will help to make sure he isn’t pushed to the back of the room for the duration, but rather included as much as he and his wife desire.
(again, apologizes for the strongly gendered language, used only for clarity here. Parents may have any of a number of ways they choose to identify.)