“Our main mission is to reduce infant deaths and address maternal care disparity in Central and East Brooklyn,” says Gabriella Ammann, community programs manager of the By My Side Birth Support Program, operated by Healthy Start Brooklyn.
“The amount of support Doulas provide have been shown to reduce stress in pregnant women, which in turn reduce the risk of premature births,”
Founded in 2010, the program provides much needed support for the neighborhoods East New York, Brownsville, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, where infant mortality rates are higher than anywhere else in New York City. Through the By My Side Birth Support intuitive Doula program, women in need can be paired up with trained childbirth assistants who offer plenty of support.
Popularity and support for Doulas serving pregnant women is slowly starting to gain traction. The difference between Doula care versus a traditional physician is that doulas provide more than just medical support: their care accounts for the emotional and physical needs of a mother before and during the birth process.
This is because doulas are not necessarily tied to the same legal obligations as doctors, and are much more available to a client. Doulas in the By My Side Birth Support Program provide their clients with many prenatal visits and even several postpartum appointments as well.
“The amount of support Doulas provide have been shown to reduce stress in pregnant women, which in turn reduce the risk of premature births,” says Ammann, adding that their Doulas are also able to connect their clients to other services, such as mental health and food assistance.
Furthermore, Doulas provide much needed emotional support for mothers, which is crucial during the very taxing birthing process. Research suggests that a having a doula as a member of the birthing team during labor can reduce a multitude of complications for the expecting mother, and can help make complex medical procedures much more calming for the patient.
“A common process in hospitals for pregnant women is to medically induce labor,” Ammann says. “The biggest risk for the expecting mother is that one medical intervention tends to lead to another, and can snowball into birthing complications. If medically induced labor and other procedures aren’t done for urgent reasons, it will put undue stress on the mother.”
Currently, the By My Side Birth program has eleven Doulas. The small dedicated team has attended to over 520 births and supported 650 families in the borough, a fact Ammann is quite proud of:
“One of our challenges at By My Side is to make sure people know about our services, as our desire to for doulas to become more mainstream,” she said.
“Traditionally, Doulas were for families that could afford them. However with our income eligibility program (no more than 185% of the poverty level) , we are making a much needed service to those who could benefit the most from it.”
Ammann also mentions a recent report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that list the observed benefits of doula care.
“It’s always exciting when organizations can give you that acceptance and confirmation that your program works!” she beams.
If you are a pregnant woman and would like more information on the By My Side Birthing Program, visit on their Healthy Start page or join them on Facebook or contact Gabriella Ammann directly at 718 637 5231.