Doulas needed to advocate for Black and Brown families in the delivery room

INDIANAPOLIS – A new scholarship fund is working to address disparities in maternal and child care in Indiana.

Thanks to the CareSource Foundation, $ 15,000 will support The Little Timmy Project, which is dedicated to promoting positive childbirth outcomes in the state. Organizers plan to use the money for their Black, Indigenous, People of Color Doula Scholarship (BIPOC), specifically aimed at recruiting and training black and brown childbirth workers.

Figures show that about 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, but the risks remain high, especially among black and brown women.

“Black and brown women, nationally and in Indiana, are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications at any time from birth to a year later,” said Steffany Stoeffler, vice president and co-founder of The Little Timmy. Project.

Stoeffler says it’s an opportunity to address representation when it comes to child and maternal care.

“We know that this is a huge factor. Black and brunette women are often not listened to. Historically, their pain is not considered credible and that’s a big problem, ”Stoeffler said. “It’s really about putting people who look like you and who know about your interactions in the health care system and maybe they have had those experiences that they can help you feel more comfortable with.”

Doulas often serve as physical and emotional support during and after the birthing journey. They also serve as advocates, helping women make the best decisions about childbirth for themselves and their baby.

“Statistically, women, or people who give birth, who are supported by doulas, we see better and more positive results in childbirth,” she said. “We see fewer cesarean deliveries, we see fewer premature deliveries. We see better results when it comes to breastfeeding and all of that encompasses perinatal postpartum mood disorders and all that. “

“We believe in the advocacy part of that and we just think it’s very important to have that kind of objective voice for yourself and to advocate for yourself,” he added. “You know, not making decisions for you, but really helping that experience be more of a conversation than a doctor telling you what they think you should be doing based on their own biases or experiences.”

The scholarship covers a series of training courses. No prior experience or training is required, and you don’t need to be a nurse.

The main requirement, Stoeffler says, is a passion for addressing the racial disparities that affect black and brown communities and their childbirth experiences.

“We believe that these programs are important. They cover everything. They address the racial issues and the disparities that we are talking about, and we really think they are doing a good job, ”Stoeffler said. “At this time, there is no particular state certification that you need to have, but we fully believe that people should be properly educated and trained. So we would like to push to see more of that in our state as we continue to increase the population of doulas found in the medical community. “

The next round of applications is expected to open in early 2022 and the awards will be offered sometime in the spring. Stoeffler says it’s a thorough process, which also includes input from a review committee.

In the next two years, Stoeffler says the scholarship program will bring 10-15 black and brown doulas into the state. Before the additional funding from CareSource, TLTP only had the capacity to support four.

“I think sometimes people look at doulas and think, ‘Oh, that’s the doing of someone’s mom. That’s someone’s grandmother’s job and really, historically, that’s a role that people have played, ”Stoeffler said. “What we intend to do with this scholarship is really help people understand and really support the work of doulas. Because while it is good to have that support within your family system, not everyone has it and they all deserve it. “

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