Note: In 2006 the CDP merged with a strategic partner; this page is kept for historical purposes only.
Doula is an ancient Greek term that has come to mean
"mothering the mother"; a Doula is a trained labor assistant. The
mission of the Community Doula Program was to educate and nurture
expectant youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods, by cultivating a network
of peer Doulas from the community itself.
The purpose of the Community Doula Program was twofold. The primary objective was to provide
integrated education, hands-on assistance and support during pregnancy,
labor and birth, breastfeeding and early motherhood through Doulas. The
second objective was to cultivate a network of trained, peer Doulas from
the communities served.
The Community Doula Program recruited and trained young mothers to serve as mentors to at-risk pregnant teens
and young mothers from their own community. These mentors, called
Doulas, helped young expectant mothers develop and maintain healthy
lifestyles during pregnancy, breastfeeding and early motherhood through
in-depth integrated educational sessions and emotional support.
The program's three distinguishing characteristics were: 1) in-depth
integrated basic education spanning the range of issues a young mother
needs to be informed about from nutrition, to pregnancy and labor,
breastfeeding and early child care; 2) integration of education and
emotional support, particularly labor support at the hospital; and 3)
training and mentoring of women from the community itself, providing
culturally-sensitive services and creating a lasting multiplier effect
as Doulas remain in the communities helping others for a long time.
We provided six key integrated services: 1) Classes on pregnancy &
nutrition, labor & birth, breastfeeding and early child care and
development; 2) One-on-one support throughout pregnancy; 3) Labor
support at the hospital; 4) Hands-on breastfeeding counseling and
support; 5) Post-partum and post-partum depression assistance (in
collaboration with other agencies); 6) Recruitment and training of peer
It is not only important to provide teenage women with
prenatal education throughout their pregnancy, it is also important to
provide support during pregnancy and labor so the birthing and parenting
process can be a positive one for them, with stronger mother-child bonds
and positive role models the young women can relate to. Because of the
integrated in-depth information and personal attention, women felt
strengthened and empowered to start asking questions and assuming the
responsibility of their child's development and family health.
By training Doulas who remain in the community, not only do we helped keep
the women healthy and taught them to take care of their families in the
long-term, but we also improved the effectiveness of interactions with
the healthcare system, where language barriers and cultural differences
can often lead to inadequate care. Doulas received extensive classroom
and hands-on training focused on preventive health and entrepreneurial
skills. They remain in the communities served referring and helping
neighbors and friends, thereby creating a lasting multiplier effect.