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This enhanced Doula training program was first approved and funded by the C. Felix Harvey Award

 for a one-year pilot program through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  We have since

been funded by The Duke Endowment to continue our work for an additional three years and

expand to surrounding counties.

Our goal is to improve Black women’s maternal and birth outcomes and increase their overall birth satisfaction by increasing their access to social, emotional, and educational support from

a professionally trained Black Doula.  

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, and 13.3 for Hispanic women. When controlling for education and socioeconomic status, the shocking health disparity still exists. Based on these numbers, research and community projects must be implemented to address this disparity. Perinatal Doula care could potentially be the key to 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 it does 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. 


In 2017, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology confirmed improved perinatal outcomes, including decreased medical interventions and cesarean deliveries when doulas are a part of the maternity care team.

the LEAD program

Support Team  (from left to right)

Resident, Doula, Nurse, Patient, Midwife, Mother 

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