May is International Doula Month, and because continuous support is included as one of the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices, Lamaze encourages women to learn about how a doula can help you have a safe and healthy birth. Many people know that a birth or labor doula is a trained birth professional who offers continuous emotional and physical support throughout labor, birth, and early postpartum, but there may be things you don't know about what a doula does. Test your doula knowledge! And be sure to share this information with friends who may benefit from hiring a doula.
10 Things You May Not Know About Doulas
1. Having a doula reduces your risk of cesarean by 28%.
2. A doula does not speak to your doctor, midwife, or nurse on your behalf. Instead, a doula reminds you of your birth preferences and encourages you or your partner to speak up or ask questions directly.
3. Sometimes during your labor, doulas do "nothing." If you are in a groove, if your partner is supporting you beautifully, your doula may sit in your room, quietly observing until she (or he -- yes, there are male doulas!) is needed.
4. Doulas aren't just for labor! From the moment of hire, your doula serves as a valuable resource for local prenatal and postpartum services, as well as assistance with finding more information on pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting topics.
5. A doula is for every kind of birth -- hospital, home, with an OB, with a midwife, without pain meds, with an epidural, vaginal birth, cesarean birth.
6. There's a doula for every woman. And it may not be the same doula your best friend hired. Be sure to interview more than one!
7. Doulas help your partner as much as they help you. Partners can feel anxious about your upcoming labor and birth. A doula can help ease your partner's nerves by providing tips and encouragement to help your partner support you during labor.
8. Continuous support, like that from a doula, has been proven to lessen your perception of pain during labor.
9. A doula can help you get breastfeeding off to a good start.
10. A doula has in-depth knowledge on the different care providers and hospitals in your area, and can provide pros and cons for each to help you with your decision making.
To find a doula in your area, visit DoulaMatch.net. Did you have a doula during your birth? We want to know how your doula helped you in unexpected ways -- share in the comments!