Birth in Color LYH brings a focus on providing culturally-centered support to pregnant families and the birth community in our Region.
Birth in Color, LYH is a collaborative project between Birth in Color, RVA and The Motherhood Collective/HumanKind.
By Rachael Smith firstname.lastname@example.org February 18, 2021
“We know that there is a critical need for safe, respectful and anti-racist care, and that one of the most effective tools for improving labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of a culturally competent support such as doula,” Lauren Brown, The Motherhood Collective
Nikeya Brown was one of five Black doulas inducted Monday into Birth in Color LYH, the newest doula program created by Richmond-based Birth in Color RVA.
She thinks maternal health care in America is an isolated event but in other cultures, it’s more community-based.
“It’s such an important time to have community around you, because there’s so much going on,” she said. “So I just wanted to really be a part of that community. I had a doula with my first child and it was an amazing experience.”
Brown said she is excited about making connections with other Black doulas in the area and said the program helps to expose what having a doula is for Black families in the area.
“I had made connections with a couple of other doulas of color and even in all of my shadowing and with the families that I saw, there weren’t many,” she said. “There was only one Black family that kind of came through that process and so certainly we’re out here having babies.”
Doulas are nonmedical support workers who are a constant presence in the birth journey and who are equipped to advocate, educate and support pregnant women.
She hopes through Birth in Color that the voices of Black women are heard more and will be able to advocate for themselves without being dismissed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth and the infant mortality rate of their babies is nine times higher than those born to white women. Sixty percent of these deaths are preventable.
It’s because of these alarming rates that organizations in the Lynchburg area are partnering to introduce more Black doulas.
Other Birth in Color programs will soon be launching in Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck and Danville.
Birth in Color LYH will be funded to train the five doulas inducted Monday by Birth in Color.
The project will compensate doulas of color to provide prenatal, birth and postpartum support to 48 Black and Indigenous pregnant women for the greater Lynchburg area.
Birth in Color is a doula and advocacy program that specifically takes care of Black pregnant women and their families and provides childbirth education. It also works to provide racial bias training to health care providers.
“We advocate for [pregnant mothers],” Kenda Sutton-El, executive director of Birth in Color RVA, said. “We also show them how to advocate for themselves. We provide them with evidence-based research to make sure that they’re making informed decisions on behalf of their birth journey that they are looking for.”
The organization began in 2019 and is launching a partnership with the Lynchburg-based nonprofit The Motherhood Collective to create Birth in Color LYH.
The Motherhood Collective has been equipping and empowering women from preconception to postpartum through free, expert-based education and social support programming since 2010.
For more information about the application process for free doula care, please visit the Birth in Color, LYH Doula Application page.