What is a Community-based Doula Model? How does this apply to your business?
According to HealthConnect One, the organization I mentor with in the Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA) & whose program is the oldest Community Doula Program in the country: "Community-based doulas dramatically increase breastfeeding rates and decrease c-section rates – by providing extended, intensive peer-to-peer support to families throughout pregnancy, during labor and birth, and into the early postpartum period. They are a mitigating factor for maternal mortality, and for many other risks to birthing families, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color." You can find more information here. I strive to make my work as accessible to my community as possible, providing sliding scales prices & payment options for low-income families, as well as specifically focusing on my LGBTQIA+ & Trans/Non Binary/GNC community.
Do I really need a doula? I believe everyone should have a doula. Why? Because Doulas are the best! Plus research shows us that having a doula on your team can make labor 25% shorter, & folx who hire doulas are 60% less likely to use epidural pain medicine & 50% less likely to require a c-section. Plus birthing folx, particularly marginalized folx, are more likely to report positive birth experiences when they've had a doula on their birth team! Even the ACOG has recognized the benefit of Doula care!
Why did you chose to train with toLabor over bigger organizations, like DONA?
The simple answer is precisely that, because toLabor is a smaller org, with a more direct commitment to birthwork as social justice work. To me, Birthwork is an arm of Reproductive & Social Justice, & as such I continue to be committed to a more community-based doula model. I offer pro-bono services to teenage parents, regularly volunteer my services, offer payment plans & discounts to low-income parents without making them jump through hoops, & continue to find new ways to help my Pittsburgh community receive the care they deserve, while also collaborating with amazing individuals already doing the work that is so greatly needed.
Why did you become a Doula?
While managing a busy Gynecologist office just outside of NYC in my early twenties I fell in love with Reproductive Healthcare. Then someone introduced me to home birth & I was floored, it felt like I was being called to this work. I originally had planned to become a Nurse midwife, but life happened, plans changed, & I found Doula work to be more attainable & equally fulfilling. I still attend homebirths both as a Doula and Midwife assistant, but I love being able to support folx in the hospitals & at our wonderful Midwife Center as well.
Is home birth safe? Can I have a home birth with my first baby?
Yes & Yes! Recent studies have even shown us that for low-risk folx, birthing at home is just as safe as hospital birth. You can find more info about that study here. And you can have a home birth with ANY number baby, first time or even after you've had a previous c-section!
What kind of volunteering do you do?
I volunteer on the boards of both The Pittsburgh Birth Project, as the Director of Community Engagement, & the Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition, working to expand & normalize human lactation across Allegheny County, as well as volunteering once a month with the Three Rivers Free Clinic for the People.
In cooperation with HealthConnect One's Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA)