For the last several years, the Guilford County Division of Public Health and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners have been pouring a great deal of effort into helping expectant mothers and their families do what it takes to give birth to healthy newborns and give the infants a good start on life.

The “Ready For School, Ready For Life” initiative provides educational and emotional support to those expecting and those who’ve just given birth – and helps make sure that the families have the resources needed and the proper knowledge for raising healthy kids.

At the Guilford County Board of Commissioners first meeting of the current fiscal year – Thursday, July 13, the board will enhance that effort meant to prevent infant mortality in the county and also meant to reduce the existing infant mortality disparity between white and minority infants by 50 percent by the year 2026.

The county has already spent a lot of money on this effort and, at the board’s July13 meeting, the commissioners will award a group just under $38,000 for those purposes.

“Guilford County has begun implementing many evidence-based programs to impact our bold goal,” reads information provided by staff to the Guilford County commissioners.  “Our collective action strategic plan is driving Every Baby Guilford, Guilford County’s infant mortality reduction program, to ensure no rock is unturned in the programs and services implemented, as well as working towards system-level change in the quality of maternal health services provided. A county-wide, community-based Doula program will greatly enhance the collective action movement being implemented.”

Guilford County is awarding $37,763 in funding to support and effort by Sistas Caring 4 Sistas help build and sustain a Doula Business in Guilford County.

A Doula is a person, typically a professional woman trained in childbirth – but without formal obstetric training –  who offers emotional, physical, and educational support to expectant mothers, women in labor and those who’ve recently given birth. Their main goal is to assure that the newborn is brought into the world safely and cared for properly.

The county’s money will go to Sistas Caring 4 Sistas, a group founded in November 2016 by four members of the Mothering Asheville movement. At that time, children born to minority women in Buncombe County were three times more likely to die in the first year of life than white babies were.

After earning their training certificates in 2016, Sistas Caring 4 Sistas began providing Doula services for pregnant women and their families in Buncombe County, North Carolina with what they called a “meet you where you are at approach.”

The county’s $38,000 will support a Doula Coordinator, five community Doulas and serve sixty birthing mothers during a twelve-month period.

Certified Doula have additional training in Childbirth Education, Lactation Education, Triple P Parenting Education, Extended Postpartum (after-birth care) as well as Peer Support Certification for women who have mental health issues or substance abuse problems.