Ever since I read a male doula's website, and an article about male midwives, I've been fascinated by men in birthwork.
So, in my curiousity, I interviewed some male doulas. Colleagues helped me create the questions and find some of the men. Each doula will have their own 'part' to avoid confusion.
First up is Eduardo Machado, doula and Certified Lactation Educator (CLE) in Puerto Rico. This post was edited, with permission, as English was not his first language.
-Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I have been married for 6 years. We lost 4 pregnancies and were told that we would not be able to have a baby. We forgot about the idea of having children, and decided to enjoy our life... 1 year later we found out Michelle was pregnant. It was stressful for the entire 37 weeks. We didn't know amything about doulas. We took birth and lactation classes but the term [doula] was not ever mentioned, not even by our OBGYN. Well my baby was born premature at 37 weeks, a healthy baby boy. We decided he would be 100% breastfed. At the hospital all went wrong with breastfeeding, even with the classes we took, nothing worked. My son was born 6.8lbs and got to 5.00lbs! We were never referred to a specialist, we didn't know the risk we were taking. All we had to try was drink this tea, take this capsule, and so on. Then we went to a pediatrician that specializes in breastfeeding and used donor milk and little by little my son was on track. He is now 2 years old! We now also have a 6 month old boy! He was born at home and 100% breastfed.
-What do you like to be called?
It's ok to be called a doula, no problem there.
-What led you to become a doula?
As you know our little history, we found that couples here don't have many sources of information. We were alone, the help was not really helpful. Many times the OBGYNs have all the desicion making [power] and moms can't say or ask anything. [They] are 100% correct and everything has to be done their way. I felt that if we were told more info, many of the situations we faced with our first child would have not ocurred. That's when I decided to become a CLE to help other families, and in the classes I heard that magic word for the first time - "DOULA". I fell in love with what they do, and here I am now
-How does your spouse feel about your work?
My spouse is really supportive. We've known each other for more than 18 years and have complete trust in each other. She love my enthusiam in helping. Everytime I get a call, every support group we do, she is there helping me.
-People don't hesitate at the thought of a male OB/GYN, but often scoff at the idea of a male doula. Why do you think that is?
I think the doula is sometimes misunderstood. Some people think it has to be a woman who has given birth, others think that a doula only can help moms. In reallity, I think a doula is a person that has the preparation and the skills to help, inform, support, and HEAR a woman and a husband in a moment that will change their life forever. I think the more people know about what we do, the less barriers we as male doulas will have.
-Are dads uncomfortable with hiring a male doula? / Do men ever feel insecure about having another man support their wife or girlfriend?
So far, I have not seen that they feel insecure. On one ocassion, a husband was the one that called me for services. I'm sure that there will be husbands or moms that would not like the idea of a male at their birth, but then again, moms don't always feel comfortable with all doulas.
-Do you have a hard time finding clients comfortable with a male doula?
So far I'm in the process of putting my name out there. With the people I have talked to, I see no real resistance to a male doula, but I see more [resistance] to a doula in general. We need to teach what we do, and why our services can help them in the process. I have heard many times, "No I dont need it, our OBGYN is good".
-How much of the time are you sought after *because* you are male?
A couple we have known for a while got pregnant, and the first thing the husband did was tell mom that they need to visit me so I could tell them more about my services. He wanted someone to help his wife and someone to help him understand the process. He said he felt more comfortable with a male point of view. She also said that it was not a male/female thing, she wanted someone that she could trust.
-Do you feel that you can offer something different from a female doula?
Yes! As a male I could help not just mom, but the entire family. Many times the husband gets left out of he process, they are just seen as the provider of diapers. I was told one time by our OBGYN that I was painted on the wall, my opinions were not important or needed. My approach its to arm dad with the tools and information that make him part of the process. Doing that, mom will have the hands of the man she loves and trusts, and me in support of both of them.
-Do you provide hands-on help with breastfeeding?
Yes, I'm a Certified Lactation Educator. I try to teach them before hand and provide the help they need with breastfeeding to make sure all is going great. If a see that something is not working I refer them to a specialist. Baby's health its a priority.
Find out more or contact Eduardo here: www.facebook.com/eduardomachadostudio
If you could ask a male doula any question, what would it be?