It’s likely that the only time you ever see your doctor is the trip to your GP once or twice a year when you have a really sever case of “Man Flu”. Likewise, the last time you went to the hospital was probably when you stupidly signed up for that game of Rugby when you haven’t played in many years. With your partner now pregnant, you are going to spend an insane amount of time visiting all different kinds of doctors. It is going to be hugely confusing as you try to work out why you need a doula, a midwife and an OB/GYN especially if the GYN is not actually an OB!
OK, I am assuming you are not completely clueless, and you have at least heard of the term Gynaecologist before. This is the doctor who specialises in women’s reproductive health. Its highly likely that your partner has visited one previously for some sort of routine check-up. But did you know that its actually an Obstetrician that specialises in pregnancy and delivery of the baby? It is quite common that the Gynaecologist is also an Obstetrician, but don’t make the mistake of automatically assuming that the existing one is.
Also, do not be surprised if your partner wants to visit a number of different OB/GYNs before settling on one to manage the pregnancy. Us guys may just think a doctor is a doctor, but when it comes to the birth of your child, there is a huge spectrum to consider when it comes to type of birth. If your partner wants to have a natural birth and the existing OB/GYN insists on c-sections so that he can make his round of golf in the afternoon, that’s going to be a deal breaker. Some believe in prescribing lots of medication; some believe in prescribing very little. Some will want to cut your partner open to speed things along, others will want to only do so if it’s a medical emergency. There is a huge amount of research to be done. It can seem really tiresome, but its incredibly important that your doctor is aligned to the type of birth experience your partner wants.
A lot of people assume a midwife is a type of nurse, but not all midwives are. They are instead best thought of as a specialist trained in dealing with low risk pregnancies. Sometimes they are part of a doctor’s office, or hospital, other times they are not. You may be thinking why do you need a midwife if you have a doctor, right? The truth is some doctors are so busy, they can often be unavailable, or have limited time to spend with you and your partner. The relationship can be very formal and impersonal. You should think about a midwife, more like having an auntie who is medically trained. She knows what to do as the pregnancy progresses, but at the same time is a comforting supportive presence who you can trust and ask all those awkward questions without having a doctor roll their eyes at you and thinking you are an idiot. Some people find having a midwife useful, others haven’t felt the need. A lot will depend on your own personal circumstance, but as a rule of thumb, even if you disagree, go with whatever your partner wants to do.
I have never met a guy who knew what a doula was before his partner became pregnant. The easiest way I can describe one is as a personalised pregnancy coach for your partner (and you if required). I guarantee one of your biggest fears, is that when you are in the delivery room, your wife is screaming, the doctor is saying push, the nurse is saying breathe and you are thinking “what the hell do I do?”. This is where a doula would come in. This pregnancy coach would be coaching your partner through the birth, making sure you are OK and up to date with what is going on. She would argue with the doctor, on your partners behalf if the doctors want to do something not in the birth plan and not medically required yet. She is emotional support. They are even experts in pregnancy massage and relieving labour pain etc. Again, the choice as to whether one of these are useful or not depends a lot on personal circumstances. If your partner gets on great with her sister who has already had 3 kids, you may not feel the need. If none of you have anyone you can lean on for support when she gets rushed in to labour, you may wish you had one.