Norton Women’s Doula Program works to improve health outcomes for Black mothers

Norton Women’s Doula Program has community-based doulas who serve as a source of information, support and advocacy for patients

Norton Women’s Doula Program has community-based doulas who serve as a source of information, support and advocacy for patients.

“Our doula program is the first of its kind in the region,” said Cara L. Bland, director of operations, Norton Medical Group. “While doulas are welcome in many birthing hospitals, this is the first program in Kentucky that employs doulas as part of the care team.”

The doula team has expanded since launching in 2022 and now includes a Spanish-speaking doula.

Which patients are eligible for the doula program?

The Norton Women’s Doula Program is available to any pregnant patient of an OB/GYN provider at Norton OB/GYN Associates or Norton Women’s Specialists. Participants deliver at Norton Hospital.

Refer a patient

To refer a patient to the Norton Women’s Doula Program, visit Norton EpicLink and choose EpicLink referral to Doula Services.

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Call (888) 4-U-Norton/(888) 486-6786

The program includes several home visits throughout the patient’s pregnancy and the period after delivery. Participating patients receive prenatal care through Norton OB/GYN Associates and Norton Women’s Specialists’ downtown practices.

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Doulas aim to improve outcomes for Black mothers

According to a 2021 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black patients are 2 1/2  times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white patients. People of color are disproportionally at risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, which can lead to issues with pregnancy and childbirth, including swelling of the heart and blood clots.

Why is it important to have a doula?

Doulas are trained, nonmedical professionals who provide physical, emotional and informational support to a pregnant patient through all stages of childbirth in hopes of producing positive health outcomes.

Using a doula has been shown to have many benefits for the patient, their labor and their postpartum experience. Doula-assisted pregnancies have been shown to be four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby and two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving the mother or baby. Patients with a doula are significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding.

Additionally, patients who had support from a doula during labor were less likely to use pain medications, require Pitocin or have cesarean deliveries than patients who didn’t use a doula. The patients were more likely to experience shorter labor and have a vaginal birth without instruments. Patients who received support from a doula were more likely to be satisfied overall with their birth experience.

A statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine affirms that labor support from someone like a doula can help improve labor and delivery.

Additional resources for patients

Doulas can connect patients with local resources to assist with access to healthy food, transportation to and from provider visits, housing and support for legal issues.

The community-based doula program was made possible through the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation, with gifts from Edie Nixon and Aetna Better Health of Kentucky.

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