Community Partner Spotlight: St. Louis Doulas of Color Collective

The St. Louis Doulas of Color Collective (STLDOCC) one of Generate Health’s partners in the new STL 360 Doula Initiative, was spearheaded by Tru Kellman, CPM, CD, CLC, Executive & Clinical Director of Jamaa Birth Village, in order to increase access to doulas for low-income families in St. Louis. STLDOCC remains an initiative under Jamaa Birth Village and is made up of doulas who volunteer their time to provide culturally competent care to mothers and families in the St. Louis area, education to the community with focus around choice, and space for other doulas of color to thrive.

Doulas that are part of STLDOCC are non-clinical professionals, trained in childbirth, who provide emotional, physical, and educational support to mothers who are expecting, experiencing labor, or have recently given birth. Doulas have been shown to reduce maternal mortality rates and improve birth outcomes, and their provision of respectful, culturally congruent care is critical, given that the maternal mortality rate for Black women is nearly three times that of white women.

Ensuring that the doulas themselves are supported is also important to improving birth outcomes. STLDOCC helps new doulas navigate the birth worker landscape – a critical service, given that many doulas operate independently. Through STLDOCC, new doulas have been able to participate in professional development opportunities, such as connecting with providers situated in the medical system and learning how to receive reimbursement for their services. This model has also helped members avoid viewing each other as competition. Rather, they have chosen to intentionally work together to provide the best care for the community. This has led to positive outcomes for community members, who can be assured that their doula is fully equipped to support them throughout their pregnancies and postpartum recoveries.

The STL 360 Doula Initiative provides an opportunity for STLDOCC to scale its reach and impact. “The new initiative is really great in that the whole point is to create full wrap-around care. It will help provide resources that are necessary to get out into the community and make a difference,” says Candice Ward, Board Chair of STLDOCC. “I'm humbled by the opportunity to leverage collective doulas while providing care that is life-saving, accessible, and empowering to St. Louis families.”

To learn more about the St. Louis Doulas of Color Collective and support their work, visit their website and Facebook page. To join the Collective, become a mentor, or find a doula, please email contact@stldoulasofcolor.org.

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