Introduction to Doulas Care

Doulas Care is a 501c3 non-profit organization working to improve maternal and infant health outcomes and reduce health disparities by matching qualified volunteer doulas with pregnant women and adolescents who have limited resources. As special mentors, doulas provide educational, emotional, physical, and logistical support to women and their families. Doulas Care also helps the volunteers by providing the opportunity to gain hands-on experience soon after training and opens a professional pathway in the field of maternal and infant health.

We are located at the Center for the Childbearing Year, 722 Brooks Street Ann Arbor Michigan 48103 and we can be reached at 734-332-8070

or toll-free at 1-866-845-0003 or for Spanish Speakers at 734-478-0045.

Population Served

group-smiling.jpgCommunity-based doulas serve families with limited resources in the following counties of southeastern Michigan: Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Genesee, Livingston, Ingham, Jackson, and Monroe. In 2007, the program served over 200 families. Since 2000, the program has grown between 25% and 90% per year. As an outreach program, Doulas Care receives referrals primarily from pregnant women themselves or through social workers and prenatal care providers.

Latino Community Outreach. Doulas Care has been able to recruit and train a small cadre of bi-cultural and bi-lingual volunteer doulas who are now providing a growing number of Latina women in Washtenaw County with free doula services. More bilingual doulas are needed to work with the program.

Services Provided

The volunteer doulas are community outreach workers who provide unique social, emotional, and educational support during the childbearing year. They do not provide medical care services.

Services During Pregnancy

  • Prenatal visits — provide a minimum of three home visits.
  • Phone support between visits.
  • Education — provide nutritional information and encouragement to clients. Educational efforts are aimed at preventing complications such as pre-term labor, low birth weight, and postpartum depression.
  • Mentoring and emotional support — doulas concentrate on building a relationship and empowering the pregnant woman.
  • Assistance in arranging transportation to prenatal care and childbirth classes.
  • Accessing community resources — Doulas are trained to identify social risk factors and promote risk reduction. They make referrals and educate clients about available community resources as needed.

Services During Labor & Birth

  • One-on-one labor support — Doulas stay with the woman throughout her labor.
  • Mediation and advocacy — Doulas assist families in their navigation of the health care system. A multi-lingual Doula (or one who knows sign language) can serve as a woman’s interpreter and facilitate communication with her caregivers.
  • Doulas do not take the place of dads or other family members, but facilitate everyone’s optimal participation, respecting the mother’s wishes.
  • Promote skin-to-skin contact and MotherBaby bond.

Postpartum Services

  • Home visits — provide a minimum of three postpartum home visits.
  • Ongoing phone support.
  • Education on newborns and infant care skills, breastfeeding skills, maternal recovery, and coping skills.
  • Breastfeeding support.
  • Facilitate MotherBaby bond and attachment.
  • Postpartum depression screening.
  • Referrals — Doulas increase access to community services for women and families at risk.
  • Extended in-home doula help is available to low-income families in need of some extra support. Typically, the doulas provide a minimum of 2-3 visits, lasting 2-4 hours each, for 2-6 weeks postpartum. In special circumstances, care may extend up to 3 months and/or a team of doulas may be assigned to the family. This program initiative is aimed at reducing the incidence and severity of postpartum depression. The doulas also hope to increase breastfeeding success.

The Volunteers

Currently there are approximately 50 volunteers ranging in age from women in their twenties to sixties. It is a diverse group. Some are former homemakers with grown children who are now able to offer their experience, time, and energy to new families. Others are students exploring career options in nursing, midwifery, or medicine who value the opportunity to work with women in a community setting as they consider a health care career. We also have retired nurses who are establishing a second career doing work they love. Some volunteers are professional doulas or intend to become self-employed professional doulas. And others are social workers, outreach workers, and educators who already work with with pregnant women on their jobs and are interested in enhancing the quality of their interactions and support. Many volunteers are young mothers themselves who simply love the work. A remarkable feature characterizing this group of volunteers is their passion for helping moms and babies.

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