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Austin psychologist, San Antonio doula unite to help dads

Authors will talk about 'The Birth Guy's Go-to Guide for New Dads' on Sunday

Nicole Villalpando
Brian Salmon, a doula and certified lactation counselor from San Antonio, and Kirsten Brunner, a psychologist from Austin, wrote "The Birth Guy's Go-to Guide for New Dads: How to Support Your Partner Through Birth, Breastfeeding & Beyond." They will be at Book People on Feb. 3. [Contributed]

Brian Salmon and Kirsten Brunner met via Twitter five years ago. Brunner, an Austin psychologist who focuses on preparing couples for birth and the reality of their new lives as a families, had started a blog when she found Salmon, a doula and lactation counselor from San Antonio. "He was doing similar work with dads," she says.

As they developed a camaraderie, Salmon and Brunner decided to collaborate to write "The Birth Guy's Go-to Guide for New Dads: How to Support Your Partner Through Birth, Breastfeeding & Beyond." They will be at BookPeople on Sunday.

There are other books out there about childbirth for dads, but Brunner says "most of the books are written by dads and have one or two birth experiences. Brian has thousands of birth experiences."

Salmon had been around birth since he was 19 and a friend of his became pregnant and needed a Lamaze class partner. "We would take walks together," he says. "It was a fun time."

That experience led him to becoming a doula, a person who helps coach couples through childbirth and sometimes the first few weeks at home.

Now he offers classes called Rocking Dads. Of the birthing experiences for dads, he says, "Most guys come in and this is a space that is not welcoming to them. They never really feel that comfortable."

Both Brunner and Salmon work with dads who are excited and dads who are resistant about being engaged in births.

"Dads get on board at the end of class because of his enthusiasm," Brunner says.

When Salmon sees couples who have turmoil in the relationship or uncertainty, he recommends they go to see Brunner. Both guide couples about how to connect during what can be a stressful time. Sometimes birth can bring up traumatic experiences, such as abuse, that the parents-to-be might have experienced. Brunner helps them work through that so they can feel comfortable during a birth.

In the book, they've covered all kinds of births and topics. They offer ideas for dads about what they can do to help their partner through labor, such as gazing into her eyes or massaging her. They go over swaddling and different ways to hold a baby during nursing. They talk about things to do before the baby arrives and things to do after.

"The book is really about telling dads what to expect rather than giving them rose-colored memories," Brunner says.

They've given ideas on how dads can be involved in cesarean section births and in breastfeeding, both of which can feel very mom-centric.

"We get them off the sideline and get them on the field," Salmon says.

They tell dads they are Mom's eyes and legs during a C-section. They get to tell their partners what is happening and go with babies when moms can't.

"We give them such a more detailed look about what to expect and how to feel empowered," she says.

"We hope that people feel good after reading this book, that they have a better experience together and feel more confident," he says.


Brian Salmon and Kirsten Brunner will read from "The Birth Guy's Go-to Guide for New Dads: How to Support Your Partner Through Birth, Breastfeeding & Beyond" at 5 p.m. Sunday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.