Black doulas needed to improve birth outcomes in Fresno County

Amanda Aguilar Image
Friday, December 9, 2022
Black doulas needed to improve birth outcomes in Fresno County
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Fresno County organizations are taking action to create a healthier and brighter future for Black babies and mothers.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County organizations are taking action to create a healthier and brighter future for Black babies and mothers.

Pregnancy can be a beautiful experience, but for Black women, there's also the worry of severe complications.

According to the CDC, Black women are two to three times more likely to die than white women.

"In the black community, we have the highest rates of preterm birth. We have the highest rates of babies that do not make it to their first birthday, or infant mortality. We also have the highest rates of black birthing people that are injured during labor, or do not make it through labor," shared Sabrina Beavers, the Black Infant Health coordinator.

Fresno County is working to improve these rates. One of those ways is by providing Black mothers with emotional and physical support before, during and after delivery.

"There's been a body of research that has actually proven that when you have a doula, your chances of having a C-section is very less. So the presence of a doula reduces a lot of unfavorable outcomes," explained Gifty Kwofie, Perinatal Equity Initiative coordinator.

The county's Black Infant Health Program is pairing up with the Perinatal Equity Initiative to recruit 12 Black doulas -- which are non-medical professionals but they work to protect the mom and baby.

The doulas will be trained, at no cost, by Dutchess of Doula.

"They want to make sure that they have your best interest at heart if no one else does," Beaver said.

According to the coordinators, for years, Black women have felt not heard or disrespected by the healthcare system.

Doulas can help mom come up with a birth plan, and make sure the medical team sticks to it.

"You should be aware or have some knowledge about the history of childbirth for black women, and be ready to support your client to be able to address these issues when questions come up," said Kwofie.

Applications to become a doula in Fresno County are still open. An in-person information session is set for Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

More information can be found online.