With support from Dogwood Health Trust, the Children & Family Resource Center (CFRC) will start a Community Health Doula Program for under resourced families in Henderson County. The multi-year finding will allow CFRC to hire a Community Health Worker to provide childbirth education, connect at-risk families with contracted doulas at no charge, and follow-up with the mother for up to a year after the birth to help support positive maternal health outcomes in Henderson County.
A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. Doulas often help facilitate communication between women and their caregivers and encourage women to advocate for themselves and participate in informed decision making about their care, supporting positive birth outcomes. Of the 1,022 births in Henderson County in 2019, 7 % were considered low birthweight or extremely low birthweight and 76.2% of the women who gave birth received early prenatal care.
CFRC’s Community Health Worker will nurture relationships with clients from the time of enrollment within the program, up to 12 months postpartum. Building relationships will be the primary goal of home visits, while also providing information and resources to women in high-poverty neighborhoods. To do the work of strengthening families, linking parents and caregivers to community resources is essential to the care and well-being of the entire family. CFRC believes that nurturing the development of children by building a strong foundation of family and community starts prenatally and that a healthy birth is the first step in creating that foundation. Disparities in poor birth outcomes have lifelong implications for the health and well-being of the child, the family, and our community. Executive Director Jamie Wiener shared, “Having a doula at a birth is expensive and often out of reach for many families in our community and the clients we serve. We are excited for this opportunity to connect our clients and other pregnant people with local doulas to help mitigate health disparities and ensure mom and baby get a healthy start.” The pairing of a doula and a community health worker will offer pregnant moms more connections to evidence-based information to support the mother in all aspects during the earliest days of a child’s development and pivotal moments for a mother’s attachment with the child.