A common concern among people considering a birth doula is that a partner's role will be diminished or replaced altogether. In reality, a doula can and should enhance your partner's role and make their presence at the birth even more special and helpful. Your partner knows you better than anyone else in the room, and maybe even in the world. Your doula knows the ins and outs of birth, the stages of labor, and the different emotional and physical needs that may arise during these times. So when you combine these two forces, both the partner and the doula are better able to serve you.
Maybe your partner is giving you a massage and, while you feel like you need their physical touch, what he or she is doing is REALLY not working. A doula can suggest other ways to provide physical comfort. Or your partner can tell from the look in your eyes that you've hit a wall, but neither of you know what to try next. A doula help move you into a new position that might be better for you and the baby, or maybe change something about the setting in the room to make you feel more at ease. It could also be the case that your partner goes into total deer in headlights mode as you begin moving along deeper into labor. They have never seen you act the way you are and feel scared, helpless, and probably pretty clueless. Your birth doula is there to not only support you as the birthing person, but to support your partner in their role and make sure they feel as helpful and connected to you as possible.
As your doula, I would never try to replace your partner. I want to help them be the best they can be so you both reflect positively on your partnership in bringing baby into the world. Check out this quick article for more info on how doulas and partners work together.