Community-Based Doula Program
The Community-Based Doula Program is a unique, innovative program model that provides extended, intensive support to families throughout pregnancy, during labor and birth, and in the early months of parenting in communities that face high risks of negative birth and developmental outcomes.”
– Health Connect One from The Perinatal Revolution and Community Based Doulas (White Paper, 2014)
What is a Doula? | Benefits of Doula Support | About Community-Based Doulas | Making the Doula Connection | Health Connect One Video on Community-Based Doulas | Our Community-Based Doula Program | B.I.R.T.H. Mother-Mentor Program | About Perinatal Support Specialist Training | Perinatal Support Specialist Course Format | Audience for Perinatal Support Specialist Course | Prerequisites for Perinatal Support Specialist Course | Sponsorship | Contact Us
WATCH VIDEO FROM CHICAGO’S HEALTH CONNECT ONE ABOUT COMMUNITY-BASED DOULAS
Pregnancy is not an illness, rather it is a special and unique time in the life of a woman with immense potential for self-growth. Childbirth is a sacred journey; a divine Rite of Passage which holds great potential for empowerment and transformation of women, their families, and communities.
We believe every woman should have access to information and resources and have emotional support during her perinatal period.
What is a Doula?
Doula (“Doo-Lah”) is a Greek word that means “woman servant”. The Doula Mothers-the-Mother. Across all times and cultures, women have always cared for other women during childbirth and immediately afterwards. Today’s Doula is a professional labor companion who is part of the maternity care team. She provides education and emotional support to women during the last weeks of pregnancy and throughout the birth provides comfort measures and emotional support. She is also an advocate for the woman, helping her to make informed decisions about her care or the care of her newborn.
According to Health Connect One, a Chicago-based training and advocacy organization, who promotes the role of community-based doulas:
“The Community-Based Doula Program is a unique, innovative program model that provides extended, intensive support to families throughout pregnancy, during labor and birth, and in the early months of parenting in communities that face high risks of negative birth and developmental outcomes. The presence and involvement of the community-based doula at birth distinguishes this program from all other home visiting models. In addition, community-based doulas are of and from the communities being served. This program model combines culturally appropriate peer-to-peer support with a life course approach that focuses on the perinatal year and the early months of parenting, a sensitive period in which families have a unique openness to change, learning and growth. It represents a new approach to perinatal support: one that makes use of the power of relationships and the power of birth…The most compelling data findings were the high breastfeeding rates and low c-section rates achieved by the Community-Based Doula Programs implementing this model. “ To download the complete paper, click here: Health Connect One’s White Paper on the Role of Community-Based Doulas
Types of Doulas
There are two types of Doulas: Labor Doulas and Postpartum Doulas. The latter provide services from immediately after the birth to several weeks afterwards. She may help with care of the mother, support breastfeeding, instructing mother on newborn care, prepare meals, and light housekeeping, as well as help with siblings.
About The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health (AWMNH)’s Community-Based Doula Program
Thanks to a donation from The Laurence H. Tribe Charitable Foundation from 2011-2015, four Perinatal Support Specialist Trainings were conducted and a Community-Based Doula Program provides prenatal, labor, postpartum and breastfeeding support for low-income pregnant women obtaining care in community clinics and birth centers. We also work with moderate income families who are insured but cannot afford to pay the full fee of a Doula. We work on a sliding scale, offering “Name Your Own Price” Doula support, so that “Every Woman Can Have A Doula.” Click here to view our team of Los Angeles Doulas.
Benefits of Doula Support
Doula support is associated with the following outcomes:
- Fewer cesarean sections
- Decreased rates of induction and pain medication use
- Shorter labors
- Decreased postpartum depression
- Improved maternal-infant interaction and breastfeeding initiation
About Community-Based Doulas
Community-Based Doulas provide an expanded role than traditional doulas who provide support during the last weeks of pregnancy, labor and immediate postpartum.Community-Based Doulas in contrast work with women throughout pregnancy as well as the birth process and 3 months postpartum. In this expanded role, they are Community Health Promoters (“Promatoras de Salud“) with in-depth knowledge of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and pre and intraconception health. As caring and trusted companions, they provide social support which may reduce social stressors associated with preterm labor. Social support has been shown to be highly protective for preterm labor among high risk populations such as African-Americans and adolescents.
Community-Based Doulas also support health behavior change in their clients and provide health education information to empower women through childbirth and promote successful breastfeeding, and healthy lifestyles, thus lowering risk of poor pregnancy outcomes in subsequent pregnancies, due to obesity, diabetes, smoking, poor dietary habits, etc.
- Objectives for maternal-infant health are impacted by childbirth practices. In spite of spending far more money per capita on maternity and newborn care than any other country, the United States falls behind most industrialized countries in perinatal morbidity and mortality, and maternal mortality is four times greater for African-American women than for Euro-American women;
- Midwives attend the vast majority of births in those industrialized countries with the best perinatal outcomes, yet in the United States, midwives are the principal attendants at only a small percentage of births;
- Current maternity and newborn practices that contribute to high costs and inferior outcomes include the inappropriate application of technology and routine procedures that are not based on scientific evidence;
- Increased dependence on technology has diminished confidence in women’s innate ability to give birth without intervention;
- The integrity of the mother-child relationship, which begins in pregnancy, is compromised by the obstetrical treatment of mother and baby as if they were separate units with conflicting needs;
- Although breastfeeding has been scientifically shown to provide optimum health, nutritional, and developmental benefits to newborns and their mothers, only a fraction of U.S. mothers are fully breastfeeding their babies by the age of six weeks. Increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration in the United States is one of the Healthy People 2020 objectives for the public’s health. Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for mothers and children including lowering rates of infant mortality and morbidity, enhances bonding between mother and infant, and decreases women’s risk of breast, cervical and uterine cancer. -From the preamble to the MFCI by CIMS.
Perinatal Support Specialist Course
The Perinatal Support Specialist Training is an intensive 6-day course which will prepare participants to work in our
Community Based Doula Program or to enhance the work they are doing with pregnant women and new mothers elsewhere. This training will prepare participants to provide childbirth education, lactation support, birth and postpartum education and support to pregnant women, laboring women and new mothers in the first 6-8 weeks postpartum.
Graduates of our course will be eligible to join our team of Doulas to provide support to women who are low-income receiving prenatal care at community clinics and give birth at community birth centers and hospitals in Los Angeles. We offer Doula services on a sliding scale to all families. Doulas who work with us are compensated on a sliding scale. For new graduate Doulas seeking certification through DONA or CAPPA or other organizations, this is an opportunity to get births needed for certification.
There are no prerequisites for the course. This is not a Doula certification training, so we suggest that participants take a Certified Perinatal Health Worker (CPHW) training, or a doula certification course after or before this training through DONA, CAPPA or another organization.
Community health workers, nursing students, aspiring doulas, aspiring lactation counselors, aspiring midwives and others who want to support disadvantaged pregnant women and new mothers are encouraged to attend the course. It may also be of interest to social workers, mental health therapists and students of women’s studies, sociology, etc. Preference is given to persons interested in serving disadvantaged women or specific religious or ethnic communities or special groups such as teens, incarcerated women, foster youth, etc. African-American/Black, Native American/American Indian, and Asian persons with language capabilities in Spanish and Asian languages are encouraged to attend, but all are welcome.
History of the Perinatal Support Specialist Training
The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health developed and trained five cohorts of Perinatal Support Specialists. 2011 graduates of the Perinatal Support Specialist Training are working as Mother-Mentors in a NIH-
funded grant conducted by Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, Ph.D. through the UCLA Center for Health Promotion’s Neighborhood Mother-Mentor Well-Being Project studying the impact of Mother-Mentors in reducing BMI and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) with Latinas in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles.
A second and third cohort of Perinatal Support Specialists were trained in June and July 2013 and July-September 2014 and are currently working in programs throughout Los Angeles County including Prototypes Black Infant Health Program, Watts Community Health Clinic, South Bay Center for Counseling, South Los Angeles Health Projects, To Help Everyone (T.H.E.) Clinic, Venice Family Clinic, and elsewhere.
In 2015, 2016 and 2017 we were proud to be part of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation’s Community Health Promoter Training. For seven weeks, we taught 25 community health promoters the Perinatal Support Specialist Training. The attendees learned about maternal-infant health promotion — including breastfeeding counseling, childbirth education, postpartum care, preconception health, and social determinants of health with a focus on strategies for eradicating health inequities and disparities among women and infants of color. We will be collaborating with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation in the months to come on The Hope Reborn Community Childbirth Companion Program (Programa Compañero Esperanza Renacida Comunidad Parto) in South Los Angeles.
RESOURCES FOR DOWNLOAD
Click here to view our team of Los Angeles Doulas
Download PDF: Doulas for BIRTH Mother Mentor Program
Download PDF: Summary of Literature Community-Based Doulas