HashiYah Amatullah, Daysha Hunter, holding Darren Jr., Miya, Kabira Yakini, Darren Powell and Amaziah

There is plenty of evidence that mothers who give birth with the assistance of doulas have better outcomes. However, doula-assisted births represent only six percent of all births.

A doula is a professional who provides advocacy, “emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience,” according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Some Louisville mothers who may have never considered using a doula have become part of a thriving community of families who do, thanks to the Mama to Mama organization, which is using a March of Dimes grant to provide doulas for mothers in six local zip codes — 40202, 40203, 40208, 40210, 40211 and 40212.

Daysha Hunter

Daysha Hunter says her experience giving birth to her third child was “a lot different” because she had the assistance of a doula. Hunter, along with her partner Darren Powell, already had three-year-old Amaziah and one-year-old Miya at home when Daysha became pregnant. They met Kabira Yakini, a doula pregnancy coach, months before Darren Jr. was born.

“Having a doula is a more intimate experience because we’ve gotten to know the family, and really become family members,” said Yakini, who became interested in becoming a doula after giving birth herself. “It’s really a sisterhood for me, you can let families know ‘We have you’ beyond bringing the baby into the world.”

Beyond childbirth

She added that the services of the doula go beyond assisting at childbirth, including physical, emotional and informational support. She said that coaching her clients of relationships, keeping parents together, is a part of what she does.

Sharon Stone Porter and Emily Pickett

Yakini, along with her partner HashiYah Amatullah, recently started their own doula business, Mocha Belly Doulas. Their hope is that with the grant money from the March of Dimes more women of color will choose to use doulas. Currently 10 families are a part of the program.

“Families need all the help they can get, beyond the support system around them,” said Shannon Stone Porter, who co-founded Mama to Mama’s community-based doula program with Emily Pickett. “The program connects families and helps to gain awareness. If more people know about doulas, more people would use them.”

Family support

Doulas may get involved with families as early as the day a mother finds out she’s pregnant, Or they may be called in during the last few days of a pregnancy. Statistics bear out that doula-assisted birth results in fewer Cesareaan births and more positive outcomes. They also help with breastfeeding and postpartum issues.

Pickett, estimates there may be up to 50 doulas living in the city, and she hopes to train more doulas in the program’s target zip codes through the March of Dimes grant, which began last summer. She said the program hopes to serve 30 mothers from lower-income zip codes in the first year.

While Mama to Mama provides doulas at no cost to families who qualify for their program, the cost of having a doula varies greatly, depending on the doula’s experience and what financial assistance is provided. But Yakini said her company offers their services on a sliding scale based on need to families who do not qualify for the Mama to Mama program.

Nominations open for 2019 Commitment to Compassion Awards

The next Commitment to Compassion awards luncheon is scheduled for Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at the Muhammad Ali Center. Do you know a compassionate soul who deserves this honor? Fill out the form below and send in your nomination. The deadline for award nominations is Friday, December 21.

The mission of the Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville is to champion and nurture the growth of compassion.We ask: ‘What does compassion want for Louisville?’