In 2020 the concept of an enhanced Doula training program was born. In 2021 received the stamp of approval and was funded by the C. Felix Harvey Award for a one-year pilot program through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2022, The Duke Endowment funded the program to continue our work for an additional three years and expand to surrounding counties.
Black maternal mortality in the United States (U.S.) is in crisis. Black women in the U.S. suffer life-threatening pregnancy complications up to four times more often than white women. According to the CDC, nationally, there are 56.8 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 Black women but only 19.8 for non-Hispanic White women. The shocking health disparity still exists when controlling for education and socioeconomic status. Based on these numbers, research, and community projects must be implemented to address this disparity ratio. Perinatal Doula care can be the missing piece of the puzzle addressing maternal mortality.
Black maternal morbidity in the United States (U.S.) is also alarming. Severe maternal morbidity disproportionally affects Black women twice as much as White women. Many women suffer from sickness, pain, and anxiety as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, and/or postpartum-related issues that could have been avoided. Significant predictors of severe morbidity were age. Women younger than 20 years old or older than 30 years old were more at risk, as were women that were self-pay, on Medicaid, those with lower socioeconomic status, and those with a chronic medical condition.
The vision, mission, and passion of this powerful trio of Black women, Venus Standard, Jacquelyn McMillian-Bohler, and Stephanie Devane Johnson, was to serve, support and help save the lives of the population that has the highest morbidity and mortality rates, Black women.
While all of the statistics highlight the critical crisis of Black women, this trio understands that pregnancy, labor, birth, and families don't all look the same. And while they began by supporting Black women, now, with the acceptance, success, and the need for a program like this, they plan to expand to other marginalized groups such as LBGTQ+ and Hispanic families in the near future.
Their goal is to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes and increase the overall birth experience and satisfaction for all Black and Brown birthing persons by increasing access to social, emotional, and educational support from a professionally trained, culturally concordant Doula.
As a result, the program has a new look and a new name but the same vision and mission.