Happy Mama Healthy Baby 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)
WATCH VIDEO FROM CHICAGO’S HEALTH CONNECT ONE ABOUT COMMUNITY-BASED DOULAS
Doula (“Doo-Lah”) is a Greek word that means “woman servant”. The Doula Mothers-the-Mother so she can give birth to her child joyfully. Across all times and cultures, women have always cared for other women during childbirth and immediately afterward. Today’s Doula is a professional labor companion who is part of the maternity care team.
Doulas provide education and emotional support and physical comfort to the birthing person and advocate for clients to have informed, respectful,safe and satisfying childbirth experiences.
There are two types of Doulas: Birth Doulas and Postpartum Doulas. Birth Doulas offer prenatal education during pregnancy, labor support during childbirth, and follow-up postpartum care to help with breastfeeding instruction and care of the new mother. The latter provides services from immediately after the birth to several weeks afterward. She may help with the care of the mother, support breastfeeding, instructing mother on newborn care, prepare meals, and light housekeeping, as well as help with siblings.
ABOUT THE HAPPY MAMA HEALTHY BABY COMMUNITY-BASED DOULA PROGRAM
Our Community-Based Doula Program provides prenatal, labor, postpartum and breastfeeding support for low-income pregnant women and persons. We specialize in working with clients who have Medi-Cal, and with special populations of pregnant persons such as teenagers, the incarcerated, and the homeless.
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, on a donation basis, so that “Every Family Can Have A Doula.”
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 birthing persons, their families, and communities.
We believe every woman should have access to information and resources and have emotional support during her perinatal period.
VOLUNTEER AND LOW-COST DOULA SUPPORT
We offer professional Doula support for low-income women and persons in Los Angeles County. No-one is turned away for lack of ability to pay because we believe every family deserves a Doula! We accept “love offerings” of any amount from pregnant women who have Medi-Cal or low-income persons in need of professional labor support or postpartum care.
DONATE! GIVE THE GIFT OF DOULA SUPPORT
We accept donations of any amount in support of this program. Your donation will help fund the support of a Doula for a low-income mother or person for childbirth or postpartum care. Donors can “earmark” their donation for a specific population, such as African-Americans, Latinos, Adolescents or LGBT persons, making it possible for all childbearing persons to have safe, satisfying and respectful birth experiences, and a healthy baby. To donate, contact us.
VOLUNTEER DOULAS NEEDED
We are currently accepting applications from new graduates of Doula training who are seeking mentorship from seasoned Doulas to learn the “tricks of the trade”. Certification is not necessary, as we can help you get the births for certification.
Doulas who are interested in volunteering to serve high-need populations such as foster teens, military families with partners on deployment, women with a history of substance abuse, homeless pregnant women, pregnant women living in Domestic Violence shelters, transgender persons, incarcerated pregnant women, unemployed/underemployed women, etc.
Doulas of color and persons with bi-lingual skills (Spanish, Mandarin, Swahili, etc.) are encouraged to apply as these are the communities served.
APPLY TO JOIN OUR DOULA TEAM
We are in need of Doulas who would like to work on a pro bono and volunteer basis throughout Los Angeles County. Candidates are selected by application and interview. Please submit our Doula Application (along with supporting documents). If selected, you will be notified to be scheduled for an interview.
Questions? Please contact Debbie Benton, Doula Program Coordinator, at (626) 388-2191 ext. 2.
AGENCIES SEEKING DOULA SUPPORT
Organizations interested in referring pregnant and postpartum mothers and persons for Doula Support should contact our Executive Director, Cordelia Hanna, MPH at (626)388-2191 (ext. 1).
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 DOULA PROGRAMS
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 distinguish 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 CHILDBIRTH COMPANIONS
Historically, Doulas have worked independent business persons, and served middle- to high-income mothers who have private insurance or the means to purchase Doula services. the population using Doula support have tended to be college educated, professional women. Doulas themselves tended to be college educated and Caucasian. Conventional Doulas provide limited prenatal support, such as one prenatal visit, labor support, and one postnatal visit. The cost for services averages around $1200 per client.
With the emergence of the Community-Based Doula movement in the last 5 years, more non-profit organizations, Medi-Caid health plans and public health departments are seeking to expand access to Doula support for low-income women. Community-Based Doula Programs focus on special needs populations such as non-English speakers, immigrants, adolescents, African-American and Native-American and Hispanic populations who are experiencing poor birth outcomes due to discrimination, inferior quality of maternity care and racism. Community-based Doulas are emerging as a promising intervention to reduce rates of premature births, cesarean section, infant and maternal mortality and other outcomes.
Additionally, in order to increase access to Doula care for all women, states are beginning to cover Doula services in Medi-Caid and health plans. In California, plans are underway to provide Doula support for Medi-Cal recipients. Additionally, health plans are undergoing pilot projects to investigate the value of offering Doula support for their members. This is a trend that will continue.
There are several ways Community-Based Doulas differ from Conventional Doulas. They:
- Come from the same community as the women they serve and have the linguistic capability and cultural competency to work with specific ethnic groups and high-risk women and teens.
- Work with clients from early pregnancy up to 8-weeks postpartum providing home-visitation, assessment of the mother and newborn, support for breastfeeding, and education and referrals.
- Are Community Health Promoters (“Promatoras de Salud“) who have in-depth knowledge of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and intraconception health.
- Are caring and trusted companions providing social support throughout the perinatal period. This intensive support may reduce social stressors associated with preterm labor for persons at high risk for preterm labor such as African-American women and teenagers. Social support has been shown to be highly protective for preterm labor among high-risk populations such as African-Americans and adolescents.
- Support health behavior change, provide health education and help clients navigate the health care system, increasing access to timely, professional maternity and newborn care.
- Empower clients throughout the childbearing year and between pregnancies promoting healthy lifestyles. This may help to reduce stressors which contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes due to obesity, diabetes, smoking, poor dietary habits, trauma, stress, 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.
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