Doula For Dad provides services for men and male-identified people to prepare them for fatherhood and the aspects of manhood that relate to it
When Desmond Seymour was 15 years old, he had a life-altering experience that went on to shape his adult life and career trajectory. He and his partner were expecting a child. Though she didn't carry to term, Seymour matured quickly to step up to his new responsibilities. From that personal growth came an awareness of the lack of support young people, particularly men, experience when becoming fathers.
Seymour went on to have a varied career—he is currently a football coach, is a scientist, worked in educational settings, as well as non-profits. But when he trained with Ancient Song Doula services, he brought all of those skills and experiences together and created Doula For Dad in the Fall of 2016.
Doula means "woman helper" in Greek and is a non-medical person who assists women before, during, and after child-birth. While everyone in the birthing room is concerned about the baby, the Doula is there for the mother. Doulas are credited with lower C-section rates and lower infant and maternal mortality rates. They ensure that the mother's wishes are adhered to during delivery and provide client-specific support to them.
Doula For Dad, however, works differently than the traditional Doula. Working solely pre-natally, Seymour provides services for men and male-identified people to prepare them for fatherhood and the aspects of manhood that relate to it. He understands that good birth outcomes often rely on supportive fathers, and that just as a Doula is there to work on the specific needs of the mother before, during, and after birthing, there are particular issues that men need support in that Doula For Dad provides.
Under the banner of "Father Love," Seymour has cultivated an approach to supporting men through their fatherhood journey. Iterating to his clients that they are both pregnant, he coaches men in effective and intimate communication, and the difference between maintaining masculinity and maintaining power. He teaches that power should be shared in relationships.
Another arc of Seymour's work draws further from his experience of almost being a teenage father. He works with young parents and sexually active young people. From working at a high school he noticed that young people were trending to sex much earlier than in the past and that they were getting pregnant at higher rates. He also noticed, again, the dearth of services, support, and education from families and the school administration, from the act of sex, to the consequences of sex.
He developed a curriculum that focuses on sexual awareness and the journey to fatherhood, all from a scientific perspective. He discusses topics from rape culture, to the concept of "no blanket consent," and healthy sexual practice. Under the Fatherhood umbrella, he designs birth plans for the young men and women, discusses with guidance counselors the realities of pregnancy as it relates to their academics. He acts as an advisor, a coach, and an intermediary filling gaps where needed.
Doula For Dad will partner with the Male Involvement arm of the Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone at the Brooklyn Health Action Center in Bedford Stuyvesant. This partnership will further both Seymour's and BFEZ's work to increase father engagement in birthing and fatherhood. They plan on developing father support groups and mentors to teach, coach, and build network of supports in areas including toxic masculinity, sexual awareness, and a crash course in Daddy-hood. Events will be posted to the health and wellness calendar.
Seymour has found that his work is welcome in the very woman-centered world of Maternal Health. He attributes that to his style. "Society teaches men to take up space," he said. Rather, he has learned, and teaches to defer to feminine energy. Where there is debate and argument, he brings understanding and intimate communication. In dismay and crisis, he finds joy and opportunity. In the absence of education and awareness, Seymour brings his experience-derived skills and training to an unseen, yet desperate need for support for fathers and fathers-to-be.