A new program offers doula support for women and teens giving birth at Granville Medical Center or Maria Parham Hospital in Vance and Granville counties.
The community-based volunteer birth doula program started a few weeks ago and already has supported at least one mom since then. The pilot program is run through Duke's Area Health Education Center program office thanks to a grant from the state's area health education center.
The state health education center aims to offer programs that develop new and diverse health workforce in the state. The goal with this program is to train a group of doulas to serve in communities where they aren't widely available, Tara Owens Shuler with the Duke program, tells me.
It also seeks to improve health outcomes, including patients' satisfaction with their care and reduced health costs.
"Based on the evidenced based research on doulas, we believed that by adding doulas to the maternity care teams in Vance and Granville counties, we have the potential to contribute to improved health outcomes and increased satisfaction with their birth experiences by women in these counties," Shuler tells me.
Doulas support women during the labor and delivery process, physically and emotionally. They also provide information before, during and after birth. A joint statement of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for the Maternal-Fetal Medicine released in February 2014 found that continuous labor support is among "the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes" and is likely underused, Shuler tells me.
Women who have had continuous labor support from a doula enjoy a 31 percent decrease in the use of Pitocin, a 28 percent decrease in the risk of Cesarean birth and a 12 percent increase in the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth.
"Rural women and their families do not have access to an abundance of resources and programs like their urban counterparts do," said Jessica Black, a volunteer birth doula in Granville and Vance counties, who told me about the program. "As rural volunteer doulas, we are not only facing getting the word out about this program but educating our community about what a birth doula is! It's so important for a woman to feel she is supported during birth. Birth is a life changing event in a woman's life. When we feel validated, supported and empowered by our birth experiences, we are able to be more productive in our families and our communities."