Young Moms in S.C. Receive the Gold-Standard of Care Through BirthMatters Community-Based Doula Program

Published December 15, 2023 under Blog

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BirthMatters-Press-Release

Spartanburg, SC – BirthMatters has successfully received national re-accreditation through HealthConnect One’s (HC One) Community-Based Doula Accreditation Program. BirthMatters underwent a rigorous review process with HealthConnect One’s accreditation team reviewing the implementation of the organization’s existing community-based doula program to ensure high-quality implementation. Community-based doulas (CBD) play an important role in helping decrease maternal and infant mortality rates and increase breastfeeding rates. These women are trained to provide peer support to other women in their communities throughout pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, early parenting. 

Twylla Dillion, President and CEO of HealthConnect One said, “Organizations like BirthMatters that are accredited and trained through us provide the gold-standard of care for moms and their families.”

Currently, BirthMatters is the only accredited community-based doula program in the southeast. BirthMatters’ community-based doulas are employed and work full-time to serve low- income young mothers living in Spartanburg, SC.  “The partnership between Health Connect One and BirthMatters is truly significant. It represents a powerful collaboration that not only transforms lives but also uplifts communities, and brings about positive change” said Amber Pendergraph, Executive Director of BirthMatters.  

“Knowing we have this behind us will only help create better funding opportunities and ensure best practice.”  shared Molly Chappell-McPhail, Director of Advocacy and Expansion. BirthMatters has been accredited since October 2019 and has been accredited for 4 years now. Since May of 2009, BirthMatters has partnered with HC One to begin replicating our Community-Based Doula Program. BirthMatters has been providing Community-Based Doula services to families since March 2010.

The BirthMatters’ accreditation from HealthConnect One comes at a time when maternal and infant mortality is skyrocketing in the African-American community due to racial disparities in the healthcare system.  Recent data released by the Center for Disease Control reveals that pregnancy mortality increased from “15.0 to 17.0 for pregnancy-related deaths for every 100,000 live births.  African-American and Indigenous/Alaskan native women who are birthing a baby are two or three times more likely than white-counter parts to be affected by maternal mortality and the risk increases for these women if they are over 30 years old.”  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,.

The accreditation means that BirthMatters is providing young and expecting mothers in Spartanburg, SC the highest quality care.  A BirthMatters Parent stated “the program opened up a dark tunnel in my life, just imagine what it could do for others”.  BirthMatters provides community doula services to young expectant mothers (ages 24 – younger) at no charge to them. 

Their trained community-based doulas provide educational and emotional support to each family with home visits and birth support. BirthMatters provides community-based doula care services until the infant is 12 months old. Their services complement the medical care model.  

BirthMatters have trained over 24 community based doulas. They have served 550 families since the inception of their program and supported 550 number births with CBD support since 2019. CBD current outcomes from 2022:

  • Breastfeeding Initiation at birth: 95%
  • Nic Admission: 5%
  • Larc use: 70%
  • Low birth weight: 8%
  • C-section: 8%

“Me receiving doula training not only helped me support families but also helped me become a better mom,” quoted Lemeisha “Bre” Mullins, BirthMatters Community-Based Doula. The HC One community-based model that I follow as a doula believes we, the community members, have the solutions to these complex health disparities. It is very empowering.”

The transformative effect of doulas in communities has been spotlighted in https://healthconnectone.org/publication/read-the-perinatal-revolution-report-2014/ in 2014. The study found that 87% of community-based doula clients were breastfeeding at six weeks, compared with 61% of a similar sample; 72% were still at it when their babies were three months old, compared with 48% of the broader sample.

“HC One’s Community-Based Doula Accreditation Program (CBDAP) is designed to help organizations implement a high-quality Community-Based Doula program,”  said Jacqueline Lambert, HC One CBD Program Manager. The goal of accreditation is to build greater fidelity to HC One’s evidence-based community-based doula model; therefore, improving quality of service and outcomes for program participants.

 HC One’s accreditation sites include:  Open Arms Perinatal Services in Washington State and Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA)  in Detroit, MI, Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative, in Tulsa, OK with the goal of providing mothers with the quality care they deserve. This unique, innovative program model works because it provides extended, intensive support to families throughout pregnancy, during labor and childbirth, and into the early months of parenting in communities that face high risks of negative birth and developmental outcomes. Recently, HC One’s program model was profiled in the 2018 Home Visiting Yearbook. The publication compiles early childhood home visiting key data and presents a comprehensive picture available at the national and state levels.

Upon accreditation with HC One, BirthMatters’ Community-Based Doula Program is recognized publicly as setting the standards for high-quality doula care. Accredited organizations are positioned to attract the attention of funding sources who are committed to high-quality implementation of Community-Based Doula Programs nationwide, and BirthMatters will gain additional exposure as a leader in their field through training and collaborative opportunities with HC One.

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About HealthConnect One HealthConnect One is a nationally recognized nonprofit training and technical assistance agency that uses innovative, community-centered approaches to support direct-service providers in promoting the health of mothers, infants, and birthing families. Operating with the awareness that birth equity is fundamental to racial equity, HealthConnect One collaborates with community-based organizations and advocates, to train community health workers, connect community-based initiatives, and mobilize diverse stakeholders to build policies and programs that improve birth equity. Learn more about our work here: https://healthconnectone.org/about-us/.

About BirthMatters- BirthMatters  is focused on reducing racial inequities in breastfeeding support for birthing families.  Since 2009, BirthMatters has carried out its mission by way of direct service, training/education  & advocacy. Learn more…Doula Care Services in Spartanburg, SC | Birth Matters

Media Contacts: Gabrielle Grimes, HC One’s Digital Communications Manager, ggrimes@healthconnectone.org and Amber Pendergraph, BirthMatters, Executive Director, amber@birth-matters.org.

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