The term “coach” is most often used to describe a person who has experience and expertise in a certain area and uses their skills to improve another person’s technique. Does this sound like a fair and reasonable label for a newly expecting parent? I think not.
There certainly are times when a significant other has seen labor before and may have even given birth, themselves...but, even these individuals are unlikely to claim expertise. And, what about those who have zero experience? “Hey, I know you’ve never been to a game before, but it’s time to get in there and tell her how to do this thing right!” Yikes. Talk about pressure to perform. Words are important, so let’s choose a word that doesn’t totally freak people out by asking them to coach a high-stakes game in a sport they’ve never played before.
At AthensBorn, we prefer to use the term “partner”...and not just because we’re in the south and it sounds great with the accent. (It does.) But, because two people moving through a labor and birth are, in fact, partners. And, there is no one right way to be a partner. Some partners want to be right in the midst of labor, holding their loved one up, massaging her back, reminding her to breathe. Some partners are a little nervous...they are present and loving but also need support, guidance, and reassurance themselves from time to time. Some partners are deeply anxious and fearful in these types of situations and are not able to provide hands-on, physical support during labor but they still want to be present for that miracle moment of their child entering the world. A doula can help facilitate any one of these situations...and she’ll do it judgment-free.
Whatever kind of partner you see yourself being, your thoughts, hopes, and wishes for the birth matter. As doulas, we want to get to know you during the pregnancy, too. We want to know what you’re looking forward to, what you’re worried about, and understand how we can best support you. You don’t need an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of birth to be a great partner (hey, that’s why you hired a doula, right?). You don’t need coaching skills, you simply need love and compassion. No one knows your partner better than you and that's irreplaceable during labor. We’ve been to many births with many devoted partners who each found a way to support their loved ones during birth.
Trust us...you’ll find your own best way, too.