UVM Health Network

Funding Connects Doulas with Pregnant Families

A new program through Washington County Mental Health Services has connected over 20 expectant families with doula support services at no cost.

Doula working with pregnant woman

Berlin, Vt. – August 31, 2021 – A new offering that connects expectant families with doula support services is proving popular due to the value of perinatal services delivered at no cost. The project is made possible by a federally-funded grant in partnership with the Screening, Treatment and Access for Mothers and Perinatal Partners (STAMPP), Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) and Washington County Mental Health Services (WCMHS). The project is available to expecting individuals and their partners but closes at the end of September.

So far, more than 20 expectant families have enrolled in the unique perinatal project, which has been offered through the WCMHS Doula Project in collaboration with CVMC since May.

“Data is very clear about the advantages of having trained, constant birth support,” said WCMHS Doula Project Coordinator and certified doula, Maria Rossi. “Despite this, doula care is not covered by any insurance and so it becomes an out-of-pocket expense for families. Families have been so grateful for this offering and the feedback from families, doulas and CVMC staff has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Doulas are trained professionals who provide physical, emotional and informational support to families before, during and shortly after childbirth. Numerous studies have demonstrated that both parents and babies have better outcomes when supported by a doula throughout the pregnancy. Five Central Vermont doulas are offering their services in support of the project.

“Being that this was my first pregnancy, I started looking into support options as part of my birth plan. The [virtual] meetings were extremely helpful and the community of people who are a part of this program are so wonderful,” said participant Amanda Schlott. “I was able to have Sarah Teel as my support person and she was beyond helpful before birth, fielding my many questions and helping me to prepare, and I don’t know if I could have done it without her. During labor and delivery she was an incredible sense of calm and support. My partner said he was so thankful to have her there, providing guidance. I’m looking forward to my time with Sarah, postpartum.”

The only eligibility requirements for the project are that the family resides in Washington County and is receiving prenatal care at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC). There are no insurance, income or diagnosis qualifications for the doula access project. CVMC’s fully integrated practice of OB/GYNs and nurse midwives recognize the valuable role doulas play in the care team.

“We’re focused on supporting women to have their ideal birth experience, and the healthiest outcome possible,” said CVMC Medical Director of Women’s Health Dr. Colleen Horan. “Having that experience starts before labor, and doulas also can improve clinical outcomes. Doulas are a highly-valued part of the care team here at CVMC.”

The federally-funded grant is made possible by a partnership that includes STAMPP, the Vermont Department of Health and Department of Mental Health. Often, expecting parents experience dramatic mood changes and mental health challenges as a part of the birthing process, both pre and post. The grant recognizes the value doulas can have in mitigating these issues, helping expecting parents through those difficult times. The grant also provides for training for doulas, a practice area that is becoming more widely recognized in facilitating positive outcomes, both physical and mentally. Expecting parents who plan to have their baby at Central Vermont Medical Center will be able to sign up for the project until end of September.

Interested families can call Maria Rossi at 802.522.8637 for more information.


About Central Vermont Medical Center

Central Vermont Medical Center is the non-for-profit primary health care provider for 66,000 people who live and work in the 26 communities of Central Vermont. We provide 24-hour emergency care, with a full spectrum of inpatient (licensed for 122 beds) and outpatient services along with our 153-bed skilled nursing facility Woodridge Rehabilitation and Nursing. Our professional staff includes over 200 physicians and 70 advanced practice providers representing 25 medical specialties.

Central Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high-quality academic medicine to every community we serve.

For more information, visit www.UVMHealth.org/CVMC.

About Washington County Mental Health

For more than 50 years, Washington County Mental Health Services has been advocating for the inclusion of all persons into our communities and actively encourages Self-Determination and Recovery. We serve all individuals and families coping with the challenges of developmental and intellectual disabilities, mental health, and substance use by providing trauma-informed services to support them as they achieve their highest potential and best possible quality of life.

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