???The Birth Circle is ecstatic to partner with the Beckwith Institute to ensure not only cultural awareness and competency for both patients and staff, but the opportunity to move through this life-changing time with layers of support through pregnancy and childbirth!??? - Megan Shope, MPH, CHES, CD (DONA), director, The Birth Circle Doula Program, UPMC Department of Family Medicine


Grant Application

Jeanette E. South-Paul, MD, Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC, and Megan Shope, MPH, CHES, CD(DONA), The Birth Circle Doula Program, UPMC Department of Family Medicine


Proposed Innovation

Resettlement in a new culture brings unique challenges, especially for pregnant women with limited English proficiency (LEP). Unfamiliar hospital and birth practices in the United States can make labor and delivery particularly stressful for them, as well as for health care providers. The result can be a less than positive birth experience for pregnant women and their families.

Currently, no formal childbirth education classes are offered in any language other than English. As Pittsburgh’s immigrant and refugee population grows, it is increasingly important to provide education and support to LEP patients. Through this innovative program, the Birth Circle Doula Program of UPMC’s Department of Family Medicine will be expanded to provide prenatal group classes and support sessions to Bhutanese and Latina mothers in their native language.


Improvements in Action

Information gathered from focus group meetings with former Birth Circle patients from the Bhutanese and Latina communities will be used to develop training programs for providers and labor/delivery staff. Training will highlight basic information about various cultures and their view of childbirth, the role of family members, and the medical team.

In addition, four 6-week childbirth classes will be held at the Squirrel Hill Health Center and the Latino Family Center — conducted by a previous patient and a Birth Circle doula in Spanish and Nepali for expectant mothers and their families. Monthly postpartum support groups also will be offered in their native language on four rotating topics: Postpartum Depression, Baby Development/Attachment/Bonding, Resources for Families with Babies, and Creating a Peer Support Network.


Results – In Progress

Providing group education in the expectant mother’s native language will enhance understanding and empower her ability to act as a key player in her medical decisions. It will also enhance the birth experience for the mother, her family, the Magee Womancare Birth Center staff, providers, and community members.