Teen Mother-Mentor Program

Pregnant & Parenting Teen Program


This program provides pregnant foster teens with  support to have healthy pregnancies and good births. Prenatal health classes, childbirth education, labor Doula support, breastfeeding support is offered from an experienced Mother-Mentor.

Photo credit: Chicago parent magazine



Teenage pregnant girls  will have healthy and happy pregnancies, give birth to healthy babies and become empowered, capable mothers.


  • Teen pregnancy can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but it can be especially hard for young women in the foster care system. Nearly 8,094 adolescents live in foster care in LA County. Young women in foster care are more than twice as likely as their peers not in foster care become pregnant by age 19.
  • By age 21, nearly 71% of the young women who had been in foster care report having been pregnant at least once; of these women, 62% had been pregnant more than once.
  • Teen pregnancy is linked to a multitude of critical health and social issues.
  • Preterm birth of teens in LAC is 12.7 per 1,000 live births and a low birth weight rate of 8.0% to teens under 18 years in comparison to overall preterm birth rate of 10.3 and the general low birth rate of 7.3.
  • Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.
  • Children born to a teen mother (age 17 or younger) are 2.2 times more likely to end up in foster care and they are “twice as likely to have a reported case of abuse and neglect compared to those children born to a mother in her early twenties”.
  • “Children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult”. Thereby, continuing with the vicious cycle of teen pregnancy, morbidities, lack of education, unemployment, poverty, and poor quality of life as well as a huge cost to the economy
  • Research studies have shown that “mentoring programs are capable of making a positive difference in multiple domains of youth behavior and development: improvements in self-esteem, better relationships with parents and peers, greater school connectedness, improved academic performance, reductions in substance use, violence, and other risk behaviors.
  • Extrapolations from existing data indicate that high-quality mentoring programs have the potential to produce a sizable monetary return on investment.


 B.I.R.T.H (Birth Information and Resources for Teen Health) Mother-Mentor Program addresses perinatal and newborn health  by providing wholistic, mother-centered educational and support services to pregnant and parenting adolescents. The program emphasizes the following:

  1. Self-Growth Approach to Pregnancy
  2. The Normalcy of Childbirth (Physiological Childbirth)
  3. Informed Consent and Refusal in Maternity Care
  4. The Rights and Responsibilities of Pregnant Women
  5. Empowerment and Transformation through Childbirth
  6. Breastfeeding Promotion
  7. Youth Leadership and Empowerment


We are now recruiting teen mothers/mothers-to-be who would like to participate in this program. Through participation in this program, the pregnant or parenting teen will be able to receive the following:

  1. Empowered Birth Choices” our original  4-week series of Prenatal Education/Lamaze Classes taught by a Certified Childbirth Educator
  2. Labor Doula Support
  3. Postpartum Doula Support
  4. Breastfeeding Education and Counseling
  5. Group health education on family planning, intraconception health, perinatal nutrition, fetal growth and development, newborn behavior and care, hypnosis, healthy relationships, menstrual health, breastfeeding, etc.
  6. One-on-One Mentorship with a Mother-Mentor over a period of 6 months.
  7. Doula support for teen moms who are giving their baby up for adoption.

At the end of this pilot project, the participants will be asked to participate in a focus group to share their experiences, and that information will be utilized to expand the program, pending receipt of additional funding. Eventually, we hope to be able to offer this program through community clinics or agencies working with pregnant and parenting adolescents in foster care.


The eligible candidates must be female between the ages of 13 and 19 who are pregnant or parenting (child under 3 months of age), and have ONE of the following criteria:

1) Receiving or are eligible to receive Medi-Cal, or are an undocumented immigrant without health insurance;
2) Taking part in a Foster Care agency program or live with foster parents; or recently emancipated from foster care;
3) Currently residing in Los Angeles (priority given to SPAs 3, 4 and 6);
4) Desire to receive childbirth education, labor doula support, breastfeeding support and mentorship from an experienced mother-mentor;
5) Agree to keep all commitments with the Mother-Mentor/Doula (i.e. come to all meetings and appointments and keep in touch);
6) Willingness to participate in focus discussion group at conclusion of program;
7) Willingness to sign a Memorandum of Understanding regarding your participation in the program. If under age 18, has an adult (legal guardian, foster parent, parent, teacher, principal or family member) who can sign a Memorandum of Understanding for you to participate in the program.

We are taking applications for program participants currently. Program participants will be selected by application and interview, as we have limited spots available, we can only work with a few teens at this time. Teens or agency representatives should contact us for more information on the application process.


Our Mother-Mentors and Perinatal Support Specialists have skills in prenatal and childbirth education, labor support methods, breastfeeding support, postpartum support of mothers and infants, perinatal mood disorders, social determinants of health, The Lifecourse Model, cultural awareness, communication and counseling skills, life and leadership coaching, and more. Most of us are mothers ourselves, some of us were foster youth and/or teen moms, and therefore understand the unique challenges that early age parenthood bring.


Building upon the adolescents’ strengths and resiliency, through supportive relationships with mentors and opportunities for social support, empowerment sessions, access to resources, networks and perinatal education, the following objectives will be met:

  • Improving maternal and infant outcomes, specifically:
  • Reduction in premature births (earlier than 39 weeks);
  • Reduction in low birth weight (LBW) and very low birth weight (VBLW) babies (higher than 5.5 lbs);
  • Decrease in Primary Cesarean Sections (15% or less);
  • Increase in Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (15% or higher);
  • Reduction in PTSD following childbirth;
  • Reduction in Postpartum Depression and Anxiety;
  • Enhanced maternal-infant attachment;
  • Increase in initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding (6 months minimum);
  • Improving high school graduation rates;
  • Reducing repeat pregnancies;
  • Providing opportunities and mentorship for teens interested in careers in maternal and infant health


If you are working with pregnant adolescents, we would like to collaborate with you to serve your clients’ need for labor support, breastfeeding support, postpartum care and childbirth education and mentorship for becoming a mom. Please contact Program Director, Cordelia Hanna, MPH at: Cordelia.Hanna@Motherbabysupport.net


We are now recruiting women who are African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian or API and who have Spanish and Asian-language capabilities to serve as Mother-Mentors to adolescent mothers enrolled in this program. We are seeking candidates to serve as Mother-Mentors/Perinatal Health Promoters to the program participants. Trained doulas and breastfeeding counselors, community health promoter/Promatoras de Salud, and those who were formerly teen mothers or in foster care can apply to become Mother-Mentors to the teen moms.

Former teen mothers, Community Health Workers, Breastfeeding Peer Counselors or Lactation Educators, Childbirth Educators and Birth and Postpartum Doulas may apply to work as Mother-Mentors to the teens.

Mother-Mentor applicants should have ONE of the following criteria:

1) Have completed or desire to attend a Birth Doula Training or Postpartum Doula Training or Perinatal Support Specialist Training
2) Have completed or desire to attend a Certified Lactation Educator Training or Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training
3) African-American/Black, Native American/American Indian, or Asian/API heritage preferred as that is the ethnicity of the women we serve
4) Language capability in Asian or Spanish language a plus
5) Was formerly a teen mother or in foster care

Application Process:

  1. Send a email to Cordelia Hanna, Program Director at Cordelia.Hanna@motherbabysupport.net stating which of the requirements you have, including educational background, experience as a mentor or personal experience as teen mother or working with teens or foster youth, training and/or certification as Doula or Breastfeeding Counselor or other lactation or childbirth-related training.
  2. State why you want to work with this program
  3. List all languages you speak fluently
  4. Attach a resume


  1. Are you a TEEN interested in participating in the  B.I.R.T.H. Mother-Mentor Program?  Download PowerPoint PDF: B.I.R.T.H. Mother Mentor Program Participant Presentation  Download Participant Flyer PDF: Are You A Pregnant Teen?
  2. Are you a PROFESSIONAL or AGENCY interested in learning about the B.I.R.T.H. Mother-Mentor Program? Download PowerPoint PDF: B.I.R.T.H. Mother-Mentor Program Professional Presentation
  3. Download PDF: Health Connect One’s White Paper on the Role of Community-Based Doulas


  1. Heather D. Boonstra, Pregnancy Among Young Women In Foster Care: A Primer, Guttmacher Policy Review, Spring 2011, Volume 14, Number 2.
  2. Policy Brief: Preventing Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care, National Campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy, September 2008.
    Linking Teen Pregnancy Prevention to Other Critical Social Issues. Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, March 2010.
  3. Perper K, Peterson K, Manlove J. Diploma Attainment Among Teen Mothers Child Trends, Fact Sheet Publication #2010-01: Washington, DC: Child Trends; 2010.
  4. Policy Brief: Preventing Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care, National Campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy, September 2008.
  5. Kids Having Kids: Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press; 2008.
  6. MENTOR, 2009; Cavell, DuBois, Karcher, Keller, & Rhodes, 2009.
  7. Klaus MH, Kennell JH, Robertson SS, Sosa R. Effects of social support during parturition on maternal and infant morbidity, Br Med J, 293:585-587, 1986.
  8. Hodnett E, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003. Issue 3, Art. No. CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.
  9. Cogan R, Spinnato JA. Social support during premature labor: effects on labor and the newborn, J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol, 8:209-216, 1988.

 Questions? Want to Join our Mother-Mentor Team?

Contact: Carla Michael, Community Education Coordinator

Call (626) 388-2191 (ext. 2) or Email: Carla.Michael@motherbabysupport.net