by Gabriela Ammann, MPH, LCCE, CD(DONA), Director, By My Side Birth Support Program
The first thought I had as I prepared to write this was wow, the By My Side Birth Support Program is 6 years old! I had to take that in for a moment – six years providing free doula support to hundreds of women in Central Brooklyn, and still going strong! Back in 2010, Healthy Start Brooklyn developed By My Side both to complement our other maternal home-visiting programs that did not offer labor and birth support, as well as to address the lack of accessible doula support for women living in high-poverty neighborhoods in our program area. To date, By My Side doulas have supported over 560 families and have attended 433 births. Outcomes for the program are promising – rates of cesarean section, preterm birth, and low birthweight are all lower among program participants than the overall rates in the neighborhoods we serve. And because we’re based in the New York City Department of Health, we have support from a great network of colleagues.
Data and statistics aside, none of this would be possible without our amazing team of doulas, some of whom have been with us since the beginning, and two who were themselves clients in the program! They are an incredible group of women who are deeply dedicated to supporting women and families during their childbearing year; I am honored and grateful to work with them.
One of our former clients recently wrote a blog about her experiences with the By My Side Birth Support Program. You can read the full blog here, but below are excerpts that I think exemplify doula support and its profound impact on birthing women:
“She fed me, bathed me, massaged my back, held my hand, made sure my husband was taken care of and fed, and held my head up out of the tub so I could nap between contractions during transition. She would make low moaning sounds with me to help me focus. She lay in bed with me and my husband and supported us through a 24 hour long home birth with back labor.”
“I commend these women. To be able to be so passionate, available, and helpful in a time that could either make a woman crumble with fear or grow with empowerment is amazing.”
Gabriela Ammann, MPH, LCCE, CD(DONA) is the Director of By My Side Birth Support Program, a The Healthy Start Brooklyn Program (HSB) funded project. HSB seeks to improve the health and wellness of women, infants, and their families in Central Brooklyn. Rates of infant death, premature birth, and illness in the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, East New York, and Flatbush are far higher than elsewhere in New York City and the United States. To enhance the lives of families in these neighborhoods, HSB supports services, education, and training. To learn more visit HERE or contact 718-637-5231
Interested in becoming a doula?