About the Study

The Well-Mama study is about providing doula care and support for uninsured and publicly insured pregnant and postpartum Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) birthing people. In the US, some moms from BIPOC communities face more difficulties with their health during pregnancy. We want to provide pregnancy support to make care better for moms during this special time. Our Community Doula Navigators (CDNs) will have in-person and virtual wellness check-ins and provide labor support. CDNs will be using a Well-Mama safety checklist that entails screening questions for addressing five priority areas that are important for maternal health: cardiovascular health, mental health, opioid/substance use, safety, and support system. If any problems come up, the CDNs will help the moms find the right resources and support.

The research study will begin at three sites in Chicago, IL, Newark, NJ, and Baton Rouge, LA. In addition to conducting wellness check-ins, Community Doula Navigators will also make referrals to resources following the check-ins, with feedback provided to the healthcare team; lead virtual pregnancy and postpartum support groups; attend select patient visits; and provide labor support.  We believe all moms deserve the best care and support during their prenatal and postpartum journey. Together, we can make sure that every mom feels safe, cared for, and healthy during this special time.

Who are doulas and what do they do?

Doulas are trained non-medical professionals who support you before, during, and after pregnancy. Before the baby is born, a doula can help answer questions and provide information to the pregnant person and their family. Doulas offer emotional, physical, and informational support to pregnant people and help them feel more confident and comfortable during the pregnancy experience. During labor and birth, a doula can stay with the woman and suggest positions and movements that can make the process easier. In addition, they can offer techniques to help the woman relax and manage pain. Doulas advocate for patient needs and assist birthing parents by supplementing the care received from your healthcare team. A doula can represent a calm and encouraging friend who is there to help.

Community Doula Navigators (doulas) provide culturally sensitive pregnancy and childbirth education, early linkage to health care, and other services like labor coaching, breastfeeding support, and parenting education and are often from the same community as their clients. Their goal is to provide comfort, encouragement, and information to help make the birth experience as positive as possible.

Meet the doulas in the study

Get ready to meet three incredible doulas who are the foundation of our research study. These doulas have dedicated themselves to helping families during the exciting journey of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Let’s learn more about each of them and the unique sites where they provide their invaluable support!

Say hello to Ashaki, a compassionate and knowledgable doula working at Women’s Hospital.

My name is Ashaki Tobias, I am originally from New Orleans, LA. My 2nd home became Baton Rouge, La. after Hurricane Katrina.  I am a mother of 2 and graduate of Southern University A&M College! I absolutely love working to assist birthing people and their families in my community.  Since the positive birthing experience and outcome of my 2nd baby in 2018, I’ve been nonstop to help improve birthing outcomes in Louisiana through education, doula care and advocacy. I am a Childbirth Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, Certified Doula and Healthy Birth Ambassador with Sista Midwife Productions in Louisiana for Region 2. I am truly looking forward to bringing collaborative doula care to those who need support during pregnancy, labor and beyond to Woman’s Hospital and the Well Mama Participants!

Meet Ayanna, a warm and caring doula who works at Rutgers Hospital.

Hello everybody, my name is Ayanna Chain and this is my first year as a doula! I live in Union, New Jersey. I am very excited to embark on this new journey with you all. I went to Rutgers University for both undergraduate and graduate school. In Undergraduate, I studied Communication Health and Wellness with a minor in Health and Society, and in Graduate school, I studied Urban Public Health with a focus on Maternal and Child Health. I decided to become a doula because I wanted to help and make birthing people feel safe and comfortable. Being a doula allows me to do so during one of the most vulnerable times in a person’s life. I believe in helping others help themselves through support, comfort, active listening, and fun! I look forward to being able to change or improve a moment in time for a pregnant person! Thank you so much for this opportunity!

Meet Charlie, a kind and devoted doula who works at Women’s Hospital.

Hello! My name is Charlesse Burks, but I affectionally go by “Charlie”! I am originally from Algiers, LA, a historic neighborhood of New Orleans. I currently live in Gonzales, a city outside of Baton Rouge, LA. I am a 2001 graduate of Southern University A&M College, School of Nursing and have completed my graduate studies in Nursing at University of Phoenix. Upon graduating from Nursing, I became a commissioned officer in the Navy Nurse Corps for 4 years and is where my career and passion for Maternal Child Nursing started, which included Couplet Care (postpartum and nursery), Labor & Delivery and Family Practice. Since returning to my home state in 2005, I continued my love of childbirth as a staff nurse on a Women’s Services unit and journeyed onto becoming an instructor in various stages of the nursing field. Along with the vast experience and reflecting on my own experiences with birthing my children, I most recently decided to deepened my love for Maternal Child Health with becoming a Certified Doula, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist and Healthy Birth Ambassador with Sista Midwife Productions in Louisiana for Region 2. I’m so excited to join this opportunity with working with the Well Mama initiative at Woman’s Hospital to support mothers and their families during the every stage of an incredible moment of producing life!