Gennisi Charitable Birth Services, Inc. provides free and low-cost pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum support services to families in need. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we create opportunities to intentionally connect new and expectant mothers, particularly underrepresented, marginalized, and low-income women, to free and reduced birth, postpartum, and doula services. Through our strategic efforts, we aim to address the birth disparities within communities of color – particularly, the birth disparities within the African American community.
In the United States, African American women are victims of a rising health crisis, and their plight has become one of national concern as the maternal death rate continues to escalate. According to the 2021 Tennessee Maternal Mortality Annual Report, non-Hispanic Black Women were 1.5 times more likely to die during or within a year of pregnancy compared to non-Hispanic white women. Furthermore, Black women were 3.9 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared to non-Hispanic white women. Studies revealed that 74% of these deaths were preventable. In cases where deaths were considered preventable, the chance of the death could have been averted by improved communication at the patient, community, provider, facility, and/or system level. Of deaths that were deemed preventable, 67.2% of women experienced cardiovascular and coronary conditions and 70% experienced hemorrhages. In a recent executive summary from Harvard’s Nine Maternal Mortality Review Committees, approximately 700 women across the United States die each year from pregnancy or pregnancy-related complications, with non-Hispanic Black women experiencing death rates at three to four times that of non-Hispanic white women.
Unfortunately, this disparity is widely mirrored across maternal and infant outcomes – and Black maternal death is not limited to socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals. Notable celebrities, including Serena Williams and Shalon Irving, publicly documented their near-death birthing experiences due to complications, the lack of clear communication and consistent communication with medical professionals, and the essential need for specialized advocates in the emergency room. These women were noted for their financial affluency – and yet, their traumatic birthing experience mirrors those of African American women across the nation.
As such, the use of doulas, particularly during the African American birthing experience, has proven to decrease the likelihood of maternal death and/or fetal demise. According to The Journal of Perinatal Education, doula-assisted mothers are four times less likely to have a low-birth-weight baby and two-times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby. In addition, doula assistance significantly increases the likelihood of successful breastfeeding. Encouragement and communication from a doula throughout the pregnancy can increase a mother’s self-efficacy. Furthermore, data highlights that doula-assisted experiences can decrease the need for Cesarean births by 30%, decrease the need for forceps by 30%, decrease labor time by 25%, decrease the need for epidurals by 60%, decrease the need for pain medications by 30%, and decrease the use of oxytocin by 40%. As evident within the research, doula-assisted birthing experiences can have an essential impact on mothers and their newborns, particularly for African American families.
Despite consistent research from some of the world’s leading health organizations, most African American families do not pursue doula services due to financial limitations (rising costs associated with healthcare combined with low socioeconomic constraints). Therefore, Gennisi Charitable Birth Services aims to bridge the gap and provide more women, particularly African American women, with vital doula resources during their time of need. We realize that our work is a life-saving dedication – and we are committed to doing the necessary work to save the lives of women and their children.
Benefits of a Doula:
Need for Cesarean birth
decreases by 30%
Labor time decreases by 25%
Decrease in need for pain medication by 30%
Need for epidural decreases by 60%
Need for Oxytocin decreases by 40%