Doulas of Color: Saving Black Babies & Their Moms


RALEIGH, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It should be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, but for some it can be one of the most life-threatening. Black women have the highest maternal mortality rate in the US, almost three times the rate for white women. And according to the CDC, black babies are more likely to die and also be more likely to be born premature. That’s why some expecting black moms are now turning to black doulas to help ensure their own safety, and the safety of their unborn child.

Healthy now, but before giving birth to little Asa, Jordyne Blaise was worried – she had seen the headlines …

Asa’s mom Jordyne says, “Quite frankly, I was scared. I also was pregnant at an advanced maternal age, so I had just turned 36. “

Doula Ste’keira Shepperson believes systemic racism in the medical field is partially to blame. That’s why she created Triangle Doulas of Color.

Ste’keria explains, “Essentially what it boils down to is having a doula that’s from the same community or cultural background as you.” She believes doulas are often misunderstood.

“One big myth about doulas would be that doulas are only for a natural unmedicated birth because doulas can support any type of birth. A lot of people get confused about doulas and midwives, and so that is a big misconception that we do the same thing. A doula is a non-medical support person, whereas a midwife is clinical support.” explains Ste’Keria.

Jordyne believes Ste’keria was instrumental in helping her during delivery. She says, “We had got toward the end of labor and Asa was taking a while to move down the birth canal. And Ste’keria looked at me and said, “Okay, are you okay if we work on some positions to move her down?” And I said, ‘Yes, I’m willing.’”

By the time the doctor returned, they were able to help baby Asa move into the correct position — and Jordyne was able to have a natural, safe birth.

Ste’keria’s team of doulas have helped to deliver more than 300 babies since 2018 and can support moms through every aspect of having a child. From before birth, through labor and after going home. Hiring a doula can cost from a thousand to two thousand dollars. And although it’s not usually covered by insurance, there are some Medicaid plans that are beginning to cover the costs.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Bob Walko, Editor, Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer.



REPORT #3174

BACKGROUND: A doula is a professional who is trained to provide physical and emotional support to the person they are assisting, usually women who are pregnant, in a nonmedical way. They can assist before a woman becomes pregnant, during the pregnancy, and after the childbirth. The goal is to help a new mom achieve a healthy and satisfying experience of childbirth. They help in giving ideas for comfortable positions during the progression of labor with hands-on techniques bringing comfort and calmness to the mom. Doulas can have a positive impact on not only the birth mom, but the entire family. They help them feel involved, supported, and nurtured during the entire process by keeping them involved and connected.


DOULA VS MIDWIFE: Doulas and midwives are used for different purposes in pregnancy. They have different training, duties, and certifications. There are two types of doulas known as a birth doula and a postpartum doula. A birth doula focuses on techniques during labor such as breathing, massaging, and positions for more comfort. A postpartum doula focuses on the recovery of the birth mom, including helping with the infant and the breastfeeding process. A midwife is a trained medical professional. They assist with prenatal care, birth, and the postpartum period. If a midwife is used during a pregnancy, the patient typically does not have a doctor. The two main types of midwives are Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Direct-Entry Midwives. All midwives must complete specific education, training, supervised clinical experience, and certification requirements.       


NEW RESEARCH ON DOULAS AND PREGNANCY: The March of Dimes is funding a project with Penn Research Center for Advancing Maternal Health Equity. The goal is to determine how doulas can be more closely involved in maternal care teams. Studies show that an average of two women die every day from pregnancy-related issues in the U.S. and two babies die every hour linked to factors such as structural racism, poor maternal health, and socio-economic status. Elizabeth Howell, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Perelman School of Medicine and Leonard Davis Institute (LDI) senior fellow, says, “Disparities research has traditionally shown that Black women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women.” This research will focus on expanding the positive effect of doulas in maternal care as they provide guidance and comfort methods to help women cope with the physical and emotional demands of labor and childbirth. They can also provide education and advocacy, helping women make informed decisions about their care.


* For More Information, Contact:            Ste’Keira Shepperson

Founder & Certified Doula

Triangle Doula’s of Color

Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: