Georgia Doula Program Sees Results to Address Infant, Maternal Mortality

Author: HMHBGA Staff


CONTACT: Mica Whitfield – 678-302-1130

August 13, 2019 – Atlanta, GA – Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA), in partnership with United Way of Greater Atlanta, is very excited to announce that the first cohort of the Building Perinatal Support Professionals program graduated on June 30, 2019.

“The success of this project demonstrates the impact that perinatal support professionals can have toward increasing birth outcomes for families in our State,” says Mica Whitfield, Director of Programs at HMHBGA. “We are thankful to United Way of Greater of Atlanta for their support of the program.”

The Building Perinatal Support Professionals program’s primary objective is to increase the number of qualified perinatal support professionals serving communities most at risk for poor birth outcomes. Selected applicants represented DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Cherokee, and Paulding counties, with the majority calling DeKalb and Fulton counties home. Other key components were a passion for maternal and child health, and a desire to work with underserved communities.

HMHBGA received 41 applicants, and narrowed it down to 20 participants– 7 on the childbirth educator track, and 13 on the birth doula track.

HMHBGA connected each participant with a mentor with an established career in either childbirth education or doula services, and arranged 6 additional educational opportunities on topics ranging from social media branding to belly binding. HMHBGA was also able to cover DONA and ICEA membership and certification fees, thanks to the generous grant from United Way of Greater Atlanta. United Way’s grant funded the additional trainings, as well as provided reading materials. Additionally, cohort members were connected to birthing individuals interested in doula services or childbirth education.

“HMHB is deeply committed to addressing Georgia’s abysmal maternal and infant mortality rates,” said HMHB Executive Director, Elise Blasingame. “We know that by increasing the number of perinatal support professionals working in our high-risk communities, we are ensuring that women have access to the support needed to reduce these disparities. Our graduates have done an incredible job and we look forward to supporting their future success in serving women and families.”

The birth doula track participants served 64 women between July 2018 and June 2019. The following are outcomes from those births attended by HMHBGA trained doulas:

  • 100% took place in a hospital setting.
  • 91% of the births were vaginal deliveries including one vaginal birth after a previous C-section. Two births resulted in a C-section, of which one was a planned C-section.
  • The average gestational age was 39 weeks and there were no preterm births.
  • The average birth weight was 6lbs, 15 oz.
  • The average APGAR score at one minute was 7.5 and the 5 minute average score was 9.
  • 100% of the women served breastfed post delivery.
  • All women initiated skin-to-skin contact post delivery.
  • No maternal or infant deaths.

The childbirth education track cohort members served 134 women in the same period. 

“United Way of Greater Atlanta is thrilled and proud to partner with HMHB in the implementation of the BPSP initiative. With the preliminary outcomes from our first 18 months and Phase I of this project, it is clear that supporting pregnant mothers through innovative and holistic approaches can significantly impact maternal health and birth outcomes. We are understanding, through this work and many other maternal child health interventions, that child well-being must begin with maternal and women’s health—particularly amongst women of color and under-resourced communities,” says Maylott Mulugeta, Health Program Manager at United Way. “We are looking forward to continuing this strong and meaningful partnership with HMHB for Phase II of this initiative.”

As HMHBGA and United Way move into Phase II of the program, Cohort I members will continue to be provided with continuing education opportunities and referrals for birthing families.