Health Net Community Doula Program

Health Net Community Doula Pilot Program (2019)

Doula Support for African-American/Black Families in Los Angeles County 

Healthnet Doula Project


The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health (our former organization) developed and implemented a Community-Based Doula Pilot Program for African-American/Black families in Los Angeles County through a partnership with Health Net, Inc. one of the largest HMO managed-care organizations in California. Health Net’s goal was to lower cesarean rates for their African-American/Black members by providing 10 mostly-African-American/Black Doulas to serve 150 women from 2019 to 2021. As of  December 2019, we are no longer managing this program. 


  •  We served 30 women from May to December 2019.
  • In just 7 months, we succeeded in lowering Health Net’s African-American members’ cesarean rate from 70% to 10% among participants enrolled in this program. This is far lower than Los Angeles’s cesarean rate for African-American/Black mothers at 38% and  42%  for African-American mothers in  California, and 34% for African-American mothers enrolled in  Medi-Cal in California (Sakala & DeClerq, 2018).
  • Our premature birth rate among program participants was 5%, far lower than the California rate of 11.9% for African-Infants in 2018 (March of Dimes, 2018).
  • We established a precedent for providing a living wage for Doulas working in public health programs at $3700/per month based on two births per month. Other public health  Doula programs have followed our lead.
  • We set a precedent for Medi-Cal reimbursement of Doula services.
  • We established protocols for public health Doula programs. 
  • We provided free childbirth preparation classes to 10 families, meeting a dire need in Los Angeles County for quality, comprehensive, evidence-based childbirth education for Medi-Cal recipients. 


We continue to offer Doula Support for Los Angeles County families through our Happy Mama Healthy Baby Community Doula Program. Our Doulas are multicultural: Black, White and Latino and multi-racial. We speak Spanish, French and African languages. We serve all families of all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic levels, regardless of ability to pay. Medi-Cal recipients may receive Doula support from a volunteer free of charge. We work on a sliding scale. No-one is turned away for inability to pay, because  we believe that every family deserves a Doula.



For more information, or to receive a Doula, contact:

Elsie Gutierrez, MPH

Manager of Community Programs/Happy Mama Healthy Baby Community Doula Program Coordinator

Se Habla Espanol

(626) 388-2191 ext. 2 



National Center for Health Statistics, final natality data 2015-2018

Sakala, C., Declercq, E.R., Turon, J.M., & Corry, M.P. (2018). Listening to Mothers in California:
A Population-Based Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences, Full Survey Report.
Washington, D.C.: National Partnership for Women & Families