My name is Kendell Lincoln. This spring, I’ve attached a Community-Service Learning Project to my Introduction to Health Promotion (HPRM-240-002) class. The organization I chose to work with is Community of Hope (COH), particularly their volunteer doula program. While the organization as a whole offers a variety of services, including emergency housing, day care services, etc., the doula program has a particular mission. We offer support for women during their prenatal, labor, and postpartum experiences. The women we serve tend to be low-income minorities and have been previously excluded from the “new wave” of birth practices (midwives and doulas). COH’s doulas extend these services to women who previously would not have been able to take advantage of the support and empowerment that comes from using a doula.
My role at Community of Hope differs by day, but my largest role is being on-call for 24-hour shifts once or twice a week. I am responsible for communicating with the midwife on call, and when a mom goes into labor I am called to respond and help her through her birth. I also conduct prenatal calls, where I phone an expectant mother and walk through her birth preferences with her. The main goal is to get the mother thinking about her ideal birth situation, and draw her attention to the things she can choose during her labor, such as birth positions, pain management interventions (both natural and medical), and postpartum care. I have also been coordinating and leading doula nights and pregnancy classes. I had very few expectations because I had just finished my doula certification, and I knew the challenge was going to be truly making a mom feel comfortable during a tough labor. But during my first birth, I realized that it was a privilege to feel uncomfortable and I had to rise to the occasion for the mom, empowering her and reminding her that at the end of all of this, she was going to have a new life in her arms that she was prepared to care for. This empowerment and reminder of a woman’s true self-efficacy can act as a step towards equalizing new mothers and their babies, regardless of socioeconomic or racial determinants. The biggest lesson I’ve taken away is that something as natural as birth still requires education, empowerment, and compassion. Volunteering my services as a doula has given me that opportunity, and I will forever be grateful for my time with Community of Hope.