Local Spartanburg Nonprofit Receives National Accreditation
Today’s blog is written by Amber Pendergraph, Lead Doula, BirthMatters
BirthMatters is a local nonprofit organization providing community doula services to young (24 years old and younger) expectant mothers at no charge to them. Doula services include: prenatal sessions to discuss birth wishes and build trust, labor and birth support, and postpartum sessions to ensure successful breastfeeding. After years of successful operation, BirthMatters has something to celebrate! We were recently accredited through HealthConnect One. HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing respectful, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting. HealthConnect One is our replication model and being accredited is something we have been striving for over the past couple of years. Currently, we are the only accredited community-based doula program in the southeast.
Reflections on Accreditation from Amber
All of this great work is happening right here in the Upstate! Spartanburg has something to be proud of. This accreditation legitimizes the work that I do on a daily basis. I am an African-American woman, mother of four and currently employed with BirthMatters as Lead Doula and Lactation Counselor. The work that I do is transformative and adds so much value to the community in which I serve. Currently I have a 100% breastfeeding rate at birth for all my moms in 2018 and 2019. Educating and supporting families on the benefits of breastfeeding comes second nature to me simply because I know the benefits personally and professionally. Breastfeeding not only helps the health of the baby but also the health of the mother, to include increasing the bond between mom and baby. In my opinion it is one of the best things you can do for your family. It cuts the risks of future health concerns for mom and baby. You can look at it as a free investment for mothers and babies.
Why are Doula Services Important?
African American infants are more than twice as likely to die as white infants; African American women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. According to the CDC African-American women have higher infant mortality and maternal mortality rates than any other race regardless of social status, education, wealth or social determinants. We continue to be at a disadvantage despite all of the positive behavioral changes that African-American women make to preserve themselves and the lives of their infants. Ninety percent of BirthMatters moms are of color, so we are serving the most in need.
As a doula I know that I’m making a difference with support, education and advocacy. One of the things I feel strongly about is advocacy. If a mother can advocate for herself she will advocate for her child. By advocating for herself she will be able to speak up and is more likely to be heard in any setting. Numerous studies make it clear that having a doula by your side reduces the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of the labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and the request for an epidural by 60%. Doulas often use the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labor. I love what I do and want the community to value this work. Please join me in celebrating our accreditation with HealthConnect One!