In the Community

Community-based doula program improves pregnancy outcomes

Recent studies show alarmingly high rates of infant and maternal mortality in marginalized communities so Candelen set out to improve those rates

PHOENIX, Ariz. (STN) – According to March of Dimes research, rates of preterm birth, infant mortality and maternal mortality are significantly higher within marginalized communities in Arizona. Recently, thanks to an influx of funds from the Bezos Family Foundation, Candelen, a Phoenix-based clearinghouse of services for children, set out to address and correct those problems.

Now, through a program called NewRoots, Candelen is helping by pairing pregnant families with a community-based doula.

“We decided that we wanted to support children and families from the beginning,” said Ruth Ray, Director of the NewRoots program. “That aims to support parents from the moment that they learn they’re expecting all the way up into two years.”

Developing a relationship with a community-based doula provides expecting families a framework for handling anything that comes along with pregnancy, childbirth, and the first few years of a child’s life. Doulas can attend prenatal appointments, provide parent education, be present during labor and offer postpartum medical advocacy for young mothers.

Go inside the Candelen NewRoots program:

These are types of assistance that can be very difficult to find and afford, especially in underserved and minority communities.

“We also know that doulas are a privileged service and that many times the communities that we’re aiming to serve don’t know the benefits of a doula and can’t access it,” Ray said. “Our program is to support those that best need our services as well as be an advocate for them.”

While NewRoots got its first big financial boost courtesy of the Bezos Family Foundation, Ray is hoping future investments will help the program grow.

“We have one doula right now, but we want to be able to expand our program to reach more families,” she said. “We know that there are lots of organizations connecting with pregnant individuals who might benefit from our doula program. We want to build those partnerships.”

If you would like more information on the NewRoots doula program, click here.

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