This is our first post in our Real Partners Real Stories series. Hearing from experienced partners is a great way to learn.

I recently sat down with new Dad, Raj, to discuss his experience at the birth of his first child. Raj’s original doula was in the emergency room with her own son when it was time to join Raj and his wife in labor. While this situation is unusual, all doulas have backups in place who are ready to go on a moment’s notice. I was called in as to be the backup doula and was lucky enough to work with them on such a special day.

The Exhaustion of Labor

Let’s be honest. The person having the baby is the one who is doing the most work and therefore is going to be the most tired. But, the partner should not be forgotten altogether. Being a support person is also hard work. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to support someone for hours upon hours.I was particularly interested in Raj’s description of the exhaustion of labor.

Raj shared, “I’ve run marathons, I’ve been in earthquakes, I’ve done peace corps, I’ve done all of these challenging things, but in the moment being there with my wife from the time that we got to the hospital until 2am all of my reserves were empty. And tapped out.”

“It was so comforting to have the doula then really step in and help. And so, I was able to rest from the 2am to 5am time block which was so key. Because you forgot that it not just getting through the birth, but there is so much more. Really that 3 hours rest where I could let my mind at ease….To realize that I was completely tapped out of my reserves, it was good to have someone else help.”

Talk to New Parents

When asked what advice Raj would give parents to be he strongly suggests that couples seek advice from parents of newborns. Raj says to “find 2 of 3 couple friends who have just had a baby and talk to them about their experience because that is when their knowledge is the freshest and the best.”

Once at Home Accept Help

Raj suggests putting more focus on ways to take it easy and to rest your body. He shares “it is interesting that in the hospital we let everyone change and care for our baby, but as soon as you get home, you get kind of protective all of a sudden and you kind of do a little too much and wear yourself out….You come home and you aren’t as comfortable with your family doing anything…for us it was getting comfortable with letting other people help was important to get the self-care that we need.

Put More Thought Into Self Care

Preparing a bag for the partner is a task not to be overlooked! Labor is long and having items to help make a hospital stay more comfortable will make a difference. Raj wished that he had packed his “cozy heated blanket” and “something that he likes to drink”. He also forgot his headphones and wished that he had pack those because listening to music helps him get his energy level high and helps him get in the zone.

Why Did They Decide to Hire a Doula

Even though Raj’s wife was in the medical profession, she still decided that a doula would be a good investment. A doula had been highly recommended by many friends and once they learned the role of the doula they decided that it would be a benefit to them and hopefully would make their birth better. They are both the “biggest advocates of doulas.”