Are you African American and pregnant? You may be able to receive FREE support from a Birth Doula!
The LA County Department of Public Health is leading a broad African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Initiative to combat disproportionately high rates of Black/African American infant and maternal deaths countywide. Doulas are part of the solution.
What is a Doula?
Doulas are professional childbirth companions who provide emotional support, physical comfort, education and advocacy to women and persons during pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn period. Doula support can reduce medical interventions, including c-sections, improve your mood and satisfaction with your birth experience, and increase your breastfeeding success!
Click here for AAIMM doula bios: https://www.blackinfantsandfamilies.org/meet_the_black_infants_and_families_doulas
How Can I Sign Up for a Black Infants and Families Doula?
Contact: Michelle Sanders or Ariana White, Division of Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Ph: (213) 639-6448
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why should a pregnant person have a doula?
Evidence shows that a trusted companion during pregnancy can reduce stress and improve pregnancy outcomes. Continuous labor support from a doula can decrease the length of labor, the risk of cesarean, and the use of medications for pain relief or to speed up labor. Continuous labor support can also increase breastfeeding initiation and improve maternal satisfaction with the birth experience.
Why is this program for Black/African American pregnant persons?
Access to continuous labor support from a doula is especially vital for birthing people of color. Black women experience higher rates of poor birth outcomes, including cesareans, preterm and low birth weight infants, and infant death, than other racial groups (Thomas et al., 2017). The AAIMM Initiative is committed to eliminating preventable Black infant and maternal deaths.
Are doulas the same as midwives?
No. A birth doula is a companion who supports a birthing person during pregnancy, labor and birth. Birth doulas are trained to provide continuous, one-on-one care, as well as information, physical support, and emotional support to birthing persons and their partners. Doulas are not medical professionals. They do not: perform clinical tasks such as vaginal exams or fetal heart monitoring; give medical advice or diagnose conditions; make decisions for the client (medical or otherwise); pressure the birthing person into certain choices; take over the role of the partner, support person, or family member; catch the baby, or; change shifts (although some doulas may call in their back up after several hours).
How can I refer someone?
To make a referral, please contact program staff Michelle Sanders ([email protected]) or Ariana White ([email protected]) or by phone at (213) 639-6448. Please include client name, phone number, zip code, and estimated due date (EDD).
I’m pregnant. How can I get a doula?
Self-referrals are accepted. Please contact program staff Michelle Sanders ([email protected]) or Ariana White ([email protected]) or by phone at (213) 639-6448. Please include your name, phone number, zip code, and estimated due date (EDD).
Do I get to choose my own doula?
AAIMM Doula Program staff pride themselves on matching clients with the best doula for their needs, taking into account geographic location and doula availability. Clients do have an option to request a particular doula and while not guaranteed, Program staff will do their best to accommodate a client request.
Can pregnant teens receive an AAIMM doula?
Pregnant teens can be referred and receive AAIMM doula services on a case by case basis. Teens must meet eligibility criteria of self-identifying as Black/African American, pregnant, and reside in one of the priority geographic regions of the program. If you or the teen for whom you are referring does not meet program eligibility, program staff will do their best to locate and refer to other doula services. Please contact program staff directly to make a referral.
Can moms in DCFS be referred?
Yes. Clients with Department of Children and Family Services involvement may be referred for doula services on a case by case basis. Please contact program staff directly to make referral.
What does the AAIMM Doula Program entail?
Clients will receive 3 prenatal and 3 postpartum visits, and continuous labor and delivery support whether at home, at a birth center or a hospital. The postpartum visits occur within 1 week postpartum, 2 weeks postpartum, and 6 weeks postpartum. Doulas are also available to support clients outside of scheduled appointments (phone, text, etc.). Clients exit the program after completing their third postpartum visit. The AAIMM Doula Program is voluntary, so clients may also exit the program at any time.
During COVID-19, many visits and labor support became virtual. AAIMM Doulas follow all Health Officer Orders and the policies of each hospital or institution. Client safety and comfort are our highest priorities.
Clients receive gifts for themselves and baby at various intervals throughout the program.
How many clients can each doula have on their caseload?
Doulas carry a caseload of 2 births per month. They are on call 24/7 for each client two weeks prior and two weeks after the EDD.
Is a doula a mandated reporter?
Within the doula scope of work, doulas are not mandated reporters.
Can participants be enrolled in multiple programs (e.g. Black Infant Health (BIH); Nurse Family Partnership (NFP); Welcome Baby, etc.)?
Clients participating in programs such as BIH, NFP, or Welcome Baby can absolutely receive AAIMM doula services, if eligible.
I am not eligible for AAIMM, can I still get a doula?
Pregnant individuals who do not identify as Black/African American are not eligible to participate in the AAIMM Doula program, but there are other programs that provide free or low-cost doula support:
- Joy In Birthing Foundation •Birthworkers of Color Collective Long Beach •SBCC Thrive LA
- What Do Doulas Do – And How Can I Find One in LA – LAist:https://bit.ly/2OGPUnK
I want to be an AAIMM Doula, what do I do?
The AAIMM Doula cohort is currently full. We are not currently accepting applications, but thank you for your interest! Check back regularly for updates.
How can I participate in the trainings offered by AAIMM Doula?
In the past, the AAIMM Doula Program has offered free trainings for community members, including new doula training, trauma-informed care, full spectrum/abortion support, and CPR. To find out about upcoming trainings, get involved! Join one of the AAIMM Community Action Teams (CAT) or Doula Advisory Committee listservs. The AAIMM CATs and Advisory Committee receive and share information across the AAIMM network on trainings and other opportunities available to community residents.
Our AAIMM CATs are located in Antelope, San Fernando, and San Gabriel Valleys, as well as South LA/South Bay. Training slots are limited and involvement in CAT/Committee does not guarantee a space, but it helps. Please contact: Adjoa Jones [email protected] (South LA/South Bay AAIMM CAT), Cesar Sanchez [email protected] (Antelope Valley and San Fernando Valley AAIMM CATs), Annette Trejo [email protected] (San Gabriel Valley), and Michelle Sanders [email protected] (Doula Advisory Committee) to be added to each group.