UCAN's Doula Program just had its first baby! We welcomed a baby girl on February 6th. Both mom and baby are healthy and doing well.
Thank you to everyone for making this possible!
Pregnant and parenting youth in the care of the Department of Children & Family Services have moved through several foster care placements and are often estranged from their biological families.
They often receive negative messages about what it means to be pregnant, and avoid prenatal care instead of getting the support they need. To support these at-risk teens, UCAN's Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN) has just launched an exciting new three year pilot Doula Program. This program was made possible through the partnership of HealthConnect One as well as generous funding from the Pritzker Children's Initiative and the Irving Harris Foundation.
Over the course of the three year pilot, 100 teen mothers will receive prenatal and postpartum services from trained and experienced doulas providing continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth. Doulas will establish trusting relationships with teen parents during the prenatal period, which will continue through delivery and beyond. They will also help new mothers prepare for new attachments, provide culturally appropriate education, serve as role models, improve prenatal care, develop intensive and extended relationships with participating families, and function as liaisons to the health care system. All teen mothers will receive a new birth assessment within the first 60 days of the birth of their child, which evaluates their interaction with their child and links them to available resources on parent education and child development.
UCAN's Doula Program will train approximately
12 community members (including TPSN alumni) as community based doulas, providing current pregnant teen state wards with an individual who truly understands them and their situation because they have been there themselves. From this pool of trainees, two individuals will be hired by UCAN as full time doulas. In this manner, the program is not only providing support for pregnant teens, but is also creating jobs for UCAN alumni and building the capacity of other trainees to pursue employment in this field.
UCAN's Doula Program will provide teen mothers with:
- Improved communication techniques
- Better attitudes, beliefs, and values of pregnancy and child birth
- Culturally sensitive pregnancy and childbirth education material
- A greater focus on prenatal care
- Emotional and physical labor support techniques
- Information on obstetrical routines, interventions, and alternatives
- Awareness of birth as a life event
- Information on fostering parental attachment
- Links to health and social services
- Breastfeeding education and counseling
Doulas will also be trained to assist teen parents in particular community issues to support parents and children through the first years of life such as substance abuse and recovery, breastfeeding support, and home visiting principles. Further, they will be trained in clinical observations, prenatal childbirth preparation classes, birth observations, and a mentored birth. UCAN staff will consult with a nurse to provide further medical support for the program as needed.
For more information, please contact Aisha Bell, TPSN Family Support Supervisor, by clicking here.