Men’s Views

Men: Doulas and Partners

‘Hannah is a supportive, caring, skilled and inspirational woman whom helped my wife and I achieve the home birth we wanted. A true commodity from beginning to end.’

Summer born at home 24 hr labour- May 2011

father and baby

‘Hannah Robertson, in her role as our doula, directly contributed to Katie’s experience of a natural birth, without intervention or pain-medication.

From our initial meeting with Hannah, her openness, compassion and eagerness, created a lasting bond that was crucial to having her at Katie’s side for the birth of our first daughter. This bond was fostered throughout Katie’s pregnancy, with our meetings, phone calls and emails, ending with us feeling like we had a friend in the delivery room with us.

The obvious journey of pregnancy is physical, but there is an emotional component that is just as important. Hannah made sure to tap into that and nurture our emotional maturity and expectations to becoming parents. As a father-to-be, this was an important step for me that I know I would not had confronted had I not met Hannah.

On the day of our daughter Mila’s birth, we arrived at the birth center before Hannah. Hannah’s arrival a few minutes later changed the whole atmosphere of the room for the better. At first I was acting like a visitor to the Center, with the associated reservations. Hannah came in and right away made the space personal, turning off the lights, moving things around, releasing aromatic oils. Her attitude gave me confidence as I took over ownership for this experience.

My wife, Katie was using hypno-birthing as a tool to achieve a pain-medication-free birth. By the time we made it to the birth center, she was already deeply focused and quiet. Hannah maintained that quiet and focused her effort on one of support.  Whenever someone asks, “What did your doula do during labor?” My answer is always “Not much, her mere presence was enough.” What I mean by that is that Hannah’s true work was in the preparation for the birth. As I already mentioned, the bond she established in those meetings, made her a close friend of ours, a teammate, a supporter. And in reflecting the change that I referred to earlier on Hannah’s arrival, it was more than just physical but emotional. Her mere presence released Katie’s and my inhibitions, because we knew we had that support there if we needed it. Her efforts were a true gift to us.’

Born March 2011

“Having Hannah involved in the birth of our first child was nothing but a positive experience, the preparation for the birth was a whirl of questions and decisions that were made much easier by having an informed Doula who was genuinely interested in our desire to have a brilliant birth experience.

From a blokes perspective, It’s great to have another woman in the equation who isn’t a stressed out midwife, it helps to temper the strain of responsibility that blokes definitely feel. I’m convinced that without our Doula Hannah, our positively brilliant homebirth experience would not have been as great as it was. If I’m lucky enough to have any more kids I would definitely involve a Doula, hopefully Hannah in my plans.”

Nick (Imogen born December 2009)

“The main reason for going with home birth was the logistics involved. We had a 2 year old and it would have been difficult to arrange baby sitters every time I had to pop in and out of hospital. Our first had a hospital birth and it was a pain having to get to hospital and back several times.

I must say that I felt a lot happier and less anxious when Hannah arrived.  As there was someone with experience and the skills in homebirth present, the stress in having to cope with the unknown goes.  I’m sure this helped create a calmer environment, which was beneficial.  Also, because we knew Hannah it was better than having a stranger present. Again, with familiarity the atmosphere was relatively relaxed.

I was surprised just how quickly the birth went.  Baby Andre arrived before the midwife did. Thank god you were there, Hannah! Fortunately, the birth had no complications but I’m sure we would have dealt with those without any problems.”

Tom. ( Andre born February 2010)

father and baby

“At first I was sceptical about having a doula as I hadn’t heard of it before and none of my mates had used one. I thought it was more for celebrities, however once we had our first antenatal session at home I realised how valuable it would be and how knowledgable and supportive Hannah was. Due to me having limited knowledge about pregnancy and birth, prior to our baby’s arrival, I knew that by having Hannah available by phone/text/email/facebook etc gave me reassurance that Claire was receiving all the support she needed for a calm enjoyable pregnancy and birth. When planning our next child, Hannah will definitely be included in our birthplan.”

David (Ethan born in hospital January 2011)

“I highly recommend the use of a doula and in our case Hannah Robertson.The birth of our son although ultimately successful was marred by the fact there was no consistency throughout the my wife’s labour. We had numerous mid wife shift changes, and a lack of consistent care and support throughout. Without going into too much detail this made the whole labour very stressful, traumatic and ultimately prolonged.

We were determined that for the birth of our daughter we wanted a much more positive experience. Part of this was to plan for a home birth but the most important difference was to be the support throughout the labour. Hannah provided the consistent support before and during the birth. Her knowledge and experience helped us to have the birth that we wanted.”

Ben Leefe

“I had never heard the word ‘doula’ before and was sceptical about paying for one.  All I can say now was that it was worth every penny!  Hannah helped, not only my partner, but myself – before, during and after the birth. I saw how she empowered my partner to take control of her pregnancy, labour and the start of motherhood.

During the labour she took care of a lot of things so I didn’t have to worry about them, enabling me to focus on my partner and enjoy the experience. The information and support she gave my partner and I let us focus on the most important thing – meeting our new son.”

Glen Bird (Ryden born 25th December 2010)

“I must confess I was a little sceptical about hiring a doula at first, but looking back it was an enormous help to both my wife and I to have a doula present at birth. My wife and I attended several ante-natal classes and whilst we both felt prepared, the process of labour was very different than either of us had imagined. The exercises we had learnt beforehand were not as useful as we thought they might be because most of them involve physical contact, which my wife did not want on the day. Hannah was very helpful because she could assess my wife’s needs based on the situation and recommend new positions and breathing techniques to help her through.

Hannah was also very helpful to us when dealing with midwives. In our case the midwives quickly put us under pressure to transfer to hospital, but we wanted to give proper chance for our planned homebirth to happen naturally, without taking risks. Hannah’s experienced and independent advice helped us to make decisions that we were comfortable with, rather than feeling pressured into decisions we might regret by the midwives.

Having a doula present also gave me a chance to rest. My wife’s labour started late one night (before I had gone to bed) so by the middle of the following afternoon I was very grateful for the chance to have a nap. My wife did not give birth until the early hours of the following day, so in our case, this chance for me to rest proved to be very important.

In conclusion, it was very helpful for us to have a doula present at birth and for others considering hiring a doula, I would not hesitate to recommend Hannah.”

Michael August 2010

“After an average labour at home, uncomfortable car journey to hospital in late labour, then an overly clinical, but smooth 1 1/2 hour hospital delivery with our first… my wife was adamant on planning a homebirth as she wanted less medical intervention and she also wanted a guaranteed water pool available- which wasn’t available in hospital.

I was very dubious about homebirth as I didn’t feel confident on doing everything alone. A doula provided practical support and first hand knowledge to help me to be more confident in planning a home, water birth for the first time. Hannah was very unobtrusive during the final stages of labour, but did take a number of cherished photos, of which I would never of considered doing. In fact during the birth I found myself on the phone to the midwives- and Hannah was able to talk my wife through the quick pushing stage. Once finished with the midwives, I seemed to have totally missed the birth! Luckily, this didn’t lessen the HB experience at all.”

Duncan

“My wife spoke to several doulas and we met a couple before choosing Hannah. She felt like a friend from the beginning, there was no awkwardness at all, so I was very happy to have her with us for the birth of our second child. We’d had a bad experience at the hospital with the birth of our first baby, he was induced and took 26 hours to arrive. It was very stressful and, maybe we were unlucky with our midwife (they were very short staffed and using reserves), but it felt like all the emphasis was on medical procedure and there was a real lack of care and support.

My wife wanted a home birth, which I was dead against, mainly for safety reasons, but after going to a q&a session with a community midwife and others that had experienced home birth and then talking to Hannah, most of my worries were addressed. We decided we would have a home birth and because Hannah really went the extra mile for us she took a lot of the worry out of it.  She gave us plenty of information before hand, advised us on what we’d need to prepare for the day and even lent us a pool, as well as a relaxation CD that my wife swore by.

Then, on the day, she was totally non-intrusive but always there when you needed her.  She came early and then let us know when to call for the midwives, her obvious experience kept us calm and confident that everything was fine while waiting for them. She also backed me up to push for a home birth when they told us they were short staffed and wanted us in the hospital instead, while making sure the situation didn’t upset my wife – who was in advanced labour by then!

Hannah stayed with us throughout the birth, which went very smoothly in the pool in our dining room, supporting and encouraging my wife very calmly throughout, without ever making me feel like a spare part.  She even brought her toast in bed and helped to drain and put away the pool afterwards, while I sat holding our new baby.

My only regret about having Hannah as a doula is that we didn’t have her around for the birth of our first child.  I’m certainly more than happy to recommend Hannah based on my experience.”

Jonathan Corner (IT consultant)

‘Having Hannah as a Doula empowered me to help with the birth and enjoy the miracle of new life fully. I felt prepared and confident throughout, a far cry from the hospital birth of our eldest child.”

Peter, Teacher (Son born in water, June 2010)

“Having a doula made our homebirth much more manageable and relieved much of the pressure and stress.  Firstly, there was the support we received before, during and after the birth. The extra help was invaluable both from the hands on point of view and also, the knowledge and experience that having a doula made available to us. It was very helpful to have a knowledgeable mediator to help deal with the midwives some of which can be rather forceful in their approach and not very keen on homebirths in general.

Also it helped me to do things like fill and manage the birth pool and address other practical concerns in the knowledge that my partner was being well looked after and even take a short break from time to time which along with other things would have been difficult without the extra help.  There were many helpful suggestions during the labour, which made the process much less difficult and much less stressful. In all I would consider having a doula was very worthwhile for anyone wanting a homebirth and Hannah in particular went above and beyond the call of duty for us.  I’d have no hesitation in recommending her and felt her services were worth every penny.”

Keith Fox (Electrician)

“It is hard to put into words all of the things Hannah provided for us before, during and after the birth of our baby, Theodore. We had planned a home birth and had the majority of the labour at home with a transfer to hospital in the later stages due to meconium in my waters. Despite the hospital transfer, we still enjoyed a calm, natural birth and had an incredibly positive birth experience. We really feel that Hannah helped to make this the most wonderful moment in our lives.

We could not have asked for more from the advice and support Hannah offered during the pre-birth meetings through to her presence alongside us during labour and birth to the continued emotional support and advice in the first few days and weeks of parenthood.

The support Hannah gave us during labour and the birth was tremendous. Her role ranged from providing practical assistance, helping us to create a calm and relaxing environment, liaising with the midwives and acting as our advocate, offering suggestions to help with labour and providing nurturing and emotional support. Among the things I will remember most about my experience of labour are the incredible back massage Hannah gave me which was so effective in easing the intensity of my surges and the overall sense of safety we felt as a result of Hannah’s presence and support. We were using hypnobirthing and Hannah really helped to create the best possible atmosphere for us to put our hypnobirthing into practice and remain as calm and relaxed as possible.

We will never forget how much Hannah gave to us and how this contributed to a wonderful birth experience. We would definitely wish Hannah to support us at the births of future children and would really recommend her to others.”

Mum and Dad to Theodore born in July 2010

Birth of Nieve 23 -8-2010 – Fathers Perspective

“My wife & I made the choice to have a home birth with our second child after our previous child, Jude was born by C-section 3 years earlier. We both felt that this intervention was unnecessary upon reflection and we felt that if we were better informed at the time, and were more determined we could’ve avoided having the birth in hospital at all.

For our second child we both agreed that we would book a home birth and equip ourselves with as much information as we could. I personally feel that going to homebirth groups and forums, reading books about homebirth was instrumental in building my confidence and making me realise that home birth was the best option for us. Being consolidated as a couple and agreeing on all aspects of the process is also of the utmost importance in making you both relaxed about the idea.

We studied and discussed all the issues and made informed and definite decisions on many of the processes and procedures early on to avoid unnecessary debate and procrastination later on. We weighed up all our issues, particularly that this was to be a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and that Janine had tested positive for Strep B (neither of which proved a problem in the end), and decided that this would not influence our decision to have a water birth at home.

Booking a doula was also a major aspect in its success. Having a doula or, if budget permits, an independent midwife (or both if you are the Sultan of Brunei!) is not essential but comes as highly recommended. In our case I can’t imagine undergoing the process without a doula. I feel that we did ample studying in advance but the information we absorbed was in no way exhaustive and at any rate every case is different and any number of variables can come into play. The main role the doula played for me personally was to put my mind at ease that I was doing nothing wrong and anything I could improve at the time of the labour would be and was suggested accordingly (for example, towards the end of the labour I kept checking the clock, which probably made me more tense, the doula gently persuading me that the time didn’t matter. She was right and my eyes never wandered to the clock again!). Having a doula was also beneficial in the weeks prior to the birth as her pre-natal consultations provided plenty of insight and invaluable background.

Our daughter Nieve’s birth went ahead in a natural, relaxed environment at home, in water, as planned. It was an intense yet calm 7 hour labour, the baby was born back-to-back and with one arm waving as she came out! With regard to the latter issue it was certainly not hitch-free but there was never a moment when I felt Janine was not coping, or that the complications were such that we needed to transfer to hospital, despite there being THREE midwives present (Probably because of Janine’s Strep B plus previous C-section.)! I fully believe that the doula played in integral role in ensuring that the midwives never intervened unless serious problems occurred. There was never a moment that I personally felt the doula was scalding or reprimanding them and this was a crucial element of her professionality, it is mostly what doulas don’t do, or are not seen to do which define their expertise in my opinion!

I can say at this stage that having a water-birth at home was one of the most wonderful and uplifting moments of my life. I can’t deny that it was hard work for my wife, but it was nonetheless, we both agree, wonderful!

The service Hannah provided far outweighed any expectations we had about hiring a Doula, and made my pregnancy and the birth of our son Ethan a wonderful and fantastic experience, even though it wasn’t what we had initially planned!

The ante-natal appointments gave us a platform to speak freely through our fears and expectations and to ask all our questions no matter how strange they may be! The books, DVDs and the Hypnobabies course were invaluable resources and we arrived at Ethan’s birth feeling well informed and prepared.

With Hannah’s support and care I felt shielded and protected when my home water birth plans turned in to hospital forceps delivery, and her in-depth knowledge of our birth plan enabled me to have the best possible birthing time in the circumstances, and our plans were still followed right down to her running across the delivery room with my handmade cord ties just as Ethan was delivered!

Having a Doula with me as my constant support from pregnancy through birth and in to motherhood, provided me with stability and a steady anchor throughout this most important time in my life. Hannah enabled me to find the confidence and strength to let go of my fears, to take on this amazing journey and most importantly her support and guidance in helping me to make the transition into becoming a mother will never be forgotten.

Without Hannah’s support, help and friendship I feel the experience would have been so different, and having her there with us made the whole experience one to remember forever.

I feel every couple should have a doula with them during pregnancy and birth and next time I will have definitely Hannah with me for my much wanted planned home water hypnobirth!!

Thank you so much x

Claire, David and Ethan Maxwell Ledger xx