My job as a doula has given me the great privilege of not only seeing babies born - or even mothers - but fathers too. And it is a beautiful thing to see these men welcome their children into the world.
Whether you're a father expecting to be hands-on or hands-off during your partner's labor, you have something amazing to offer that I could never bring to the table. Going off of a quote from Jennifer Valencia, I have an intimate knowledge of birth, while you have an intimate knowledge of your partner. You know her likes and dislikes, her personality, and what makes her tick. You have days and weeks and months of time invested into knowing who she is and what is most important to her. You are vital. And your role cannot be matched or replaced.
I remember the first birth I ever attended as a doula. The dad was right there the whole time from the very first contraction. He sat next to his wife during her contractions and rubbed her back as she breathed deeply; he sat in the tub with her in active labor and sang with her; and he cheerleaded her on with constant affirmations through the whole day. And meanwhile, I mostly just smiled at them reassuingly.
A few births later, the dad had known ahead of time that he would likely want to lay low with the physical support. When I arrived at the hospital, I was told that he had tried a few things already to help his partner get more comfortable, but with not much luck. It turned out that the mom preferred my massage... but he was the one who knew best how to make her laugh and keep her calm.
As you can see, each couple, and each man, is different. And whether a dad plans to be support person #1 or plans to sit back quietly, he brings an invaluable element to the labor. My goal, when going in to a birth, is never to take over and do "all the stuff". My goal is to make sure that my clients feel supported - and that includes partners! It is always such a joy to witness a father be born. To see his smile, his looks of disbelief and sheer joy at the same time. The tears of happiness and pride, for both his partner and his child. It's one of my favorite things about birth. I hold a lot of respect for you dads out there. You are not forgotten. We wouldn't be here without you, and your support - whatever that looks like - is more valuable than you know.
All stories are always gratefully shared with permission.