Ever heard of a Doula?
Me neither, at least not until we hired one to assist with the birth of our daughter three years ago.
To say I was skeptical about handing over hundreds of bucks to someone who would do what sounded an awful lot like my job during the delivery would be an enormous understatement. I mean, what kind of dude would I be if I have a hired gun as my stand-in during the birth of my first child?
A smart dude, as it turns out.
A doula is a great investment, especially for a young family about to have their first child and then give breastfeeding a try. In fact, we liked having a doula around so much - we have contracted ours again for #2 (even though her rates have, like the prices at the pump, risen considerably since 2004)
Our doula met with us before the birth of #1, to document our wishes - specifically, the question of drugs or no-drugs stands out in my mind. My wife was adamant about not receiving an epidural and the doula made sure she knew exactly where we stood on such issues, in case, I guess, I would pass out and my wife would need a gentle reminder of what her pre-pushing-pain intentions were. She met us at the hospital late on March 1st, 2004 and stayed the whole night through - helping my wife with anything and everything. She held her hand and walked her around the maternity ward for hours on end, allowing me to get some sleep (see, it WAS a worthwhile investment!)
She arrived very well prepared, equipped with a big bouncy ball which is supposed to comfort women about to give birth, a cd player/radio, magazines, etc. With our camera, she took pictures of us and the baby.
Afterwards, she put on her lactation consultant hat and paid us a visit at home to see how the Mrs. was doing with breastfeeding. She brought with her a handwritten account of the entire delivery proceedings - it is about 8 pages long and is a pinpoint reflection on the birth of our daughter. She also made her a pillow, stitched with her name and date of birth, for her crib. This was all included in her fee. In general, she was a tremendous asset. I had ZERO regrets about handing over the dough for her to be there for my wife AND me.
That this be a lesson to you boys! Don't be so skeptical at first, give the idea a chance and you, like me, will be pleasantly surprised and quite happy with the decision.