Can Your Partner Be Your Doula?

August 25, 2021

The question “Can your partner be your doula?” has so many layers. Let’s unpack this idea for the next few minutes and you decide.

At Birth Boot Camp, we “train couples for an amazing birth” – not just mom, but couples. That includes dads, or partners. They will understand what is happening as the labor unfolds and be able to be her advocate and even her voice, if needed. 

My husband was present for the births of all four of our children, and with each birth he got better. He became more intuitive as to my needs, where to touch – or not touch – me, what to say – or not say – and basically, a better “dude-la.” That being said, he’s only been to four births in his life. I’d venture to say that he learned a lot through each birth. Until birth #4, he pretty much looked like a deer in the headlights each time though.

Now, imagine a doula who has been to dozens of births, even hundreds! Imagine the experience she brings to the table. This doula’s list of know hows include:

  • How and where to touch the laboring woman
  • How much pressure to use at different stages of labor
  • Can often gauge where mom is in labor by the sounds she’s making
  • Knows tips and tricks to help labor move along 
  • Can help with various positions
  • Helps partners help mom
  • Serves as an “interpreter” between the medical staff and the couple

We have a saying at Birth Boot Camp that your doula has intimate knowledge of birth but your partner has intimate knowledge of you. Many women are unsure about laboring and giving birth in front of someone she barely knows. Some couples want that intimate experience of welcoming their baby without “strangers” in the room. These are understandable points, but unfortunately, the room will be full of true strangers. It’s nice to have a friendly face present who knows your wishes and desires and is there to help you achieve your goals. 

So how do I answer this question? Can your partner be your doula? I believe these questions will help determine if you need to hire a doula:

  • How many births has he been to?
  • How supportive is he of your birth goals?
  • Will he be rested?
  • Is he squeamish?
  • Will he be “hands on” even in front of medical staff?
  • Can he be your voice, if needed? (A doula cannot speak for mom, but she can help him formulate questions, thoughts, and ideas.)
  • Will he praise you and encourage you with others around?
  • Are you birthing at a hospital, birth center, or home? (There may be birth assistants present who act as doulas. Ask! If you are in a hospital, I really do recommend hiring a doula.)
  • Is this your first baby? First unmedicated birth? VBAC? (While a doula is great to have at any birth, if the answer is yes to any of these questions, I strongly suggest having a doula by your side when you give birth.)

As you go through your Birth Boot Camp class, you’ll learn more each week and have more to discuss with one another. It’ll help you narrow down your wants and needs, including hiring a doula. 

I admit, not everyone needs a doula. Some dads really do fine. Some moms are able to labor on their own, too. At the end of the day, however, it’s a good feeling to know that you have several people in your corner if you need them. The opposite is also true. Regret is a tough place to be. In the 18 years I’ve worked as a childbirth educator, I have rarely heard someone say they regretted hiring a doula. But I have certainly heard plenty of couples say they wish they had. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? 


If you are looking for a doula, visit the directory on our website. She can help you and your partner have an amazing experience!

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