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 One of the questions we often get asked when interviewing with a woman to become her doula is, “Won’t your presence make my husband/partner/friend/etc. feel useless during the labor?” This couldn’t be further from the truth. We are dedicated to supporting you and whomever else you’ve chosen as your support person* for your labor and birth. 

As birth professionals, we bring a deep knowledge of the labor and birth process to our work with you. We understand the normal progression of labor, different turns labor can take, interventions used to manage those turns, and unmedicated and medicated ways to manage the discomfort of labor. Through our prenatal visits with you, we understand the vision you hold for the birth and work to support you in that vision during your labor. 

What we don’t have is the deep understanding of you that your loved one brings to the experience.

Regardless of your family structure, the people in your life who will be at the birth love you and know you and their knowledge of you is essential to supporting you during your birth. Your husband knows what fear looks like on you and how best to support you when you’re afraid. Your partner knows how you are when you are stressed and she knows how to relax you. Your mom knows how to soothe you and your best friend knows how to make you laugh. Any of these loved ones are valuable members of your birth team and our role as doula is to ensure that everyone involved feels supported and has space to bring their knowledge to the experience. 

We also don’t have the same emotional investment as these loved ones do. Your husband or partner will also be parenting the child coming into the world and he or she will bring their excitements and fears about that role to the birth experience. They will also benefit from the support we offer as they prepare to greet the child you will raise together.  

During prenatal visits, we work with both you and whomever your support person is to clarify your needs during the birth. Perhaps your mom is remembering her own birth experiences and is unsure how the process has changed, so we can support her in learning about what to expect throughout the labor. Perhaps your friend just had her own birth experience and needs support in keeping it a separate experience from your upcoming birth. Maybe your partner gets queasy easily so we can offer her ways to support you without risking getting sick during the process. Maybe your husband is uncertain about the physical aspects of labor so we can offer ways for him to be supportive without crossing his comfort zone. Whatever the unique needs of you and your support person are, we will work with both of you to make sure that you feel supported and involved throughout the labor.  

*As Salem Doulas, we are dedicated to supporting all women and their diverse family structures. To that end, we believe the term “support person” best encompasses the variety of family structures – women married to or partnered with men, women partnered with women, women choosing to parent without a partner, and adoption and surrogacy experiences. While your loved one may have many roles in your life, we will focus our work on their role as support person during your labor and birth.