The Alliance for Black Doulas for Black Mamas has just introduced their first-ever graduating class of Black doulas. According to a news release, the Alliance, which was founded by University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Family Medicine’s Venus Standard, graduated its first class of nine doulas on July 10.
The program was founded to “increase access of Doula training to Black women, while improving Black women’s birth outcomes by expanding their access to social, emotional, and educational support from professionally trained Black Doulas.”
The Alliance for Black Doulas for Black Mamas’ main focus is to give their students a culturally competent environment.
“We’ve enhanced the traditional DONA labor support curriculum not only on training from the Black perspective but training to the Black perspective,” reads their website. “We are considering cultural needs, family dynamics, generational influence, the strong racial divide in maternal outcomes, institutional racism, and the lack of trust in the healthcare system.
The need for Black Doulas is crucial for Black women, who have high mortality rates when giving birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. The Alliance’s website states that “there are 56.8 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 Black women, but only 19.8 for non-Hispanic White women, and 13.3 for Hispanic women.”
Dr. Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told the American Heart Association that this issue is alarming because these pregnancy-related deaths are all preventable.
“Basically, black women are undervalued,” Dr. Langer said. “They are not monitored as carefully as white women are. When they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed.”
The Alliance of Black Doula’s first graduating class will be providing care to 27 Black families during the perinatal and postpartum periods. The next class of Black doulas will begin their five weeks of intensive training in August.