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Nashville doula support program receives $125k from HHS to help pregnant and new moms

$125,000 will go to a program that focuses on helping every Nashville baby celebrate their 1st birthday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $125,000 to Metro Public Health to help every Nashville baby celebrate their first birthday.

The grant goes to helping the health department’s program that provides doula support. This means the funding is helping more families have access to a professional labor assistant supporting women both physically and emotionally during their pregnancy and after they give birth.

“She was like my guardian angel, so anything that I needed day or night, I was able to call,” Patricia Fuqua said. “If she couldn’t get it, she would find someone who could get it.”

Fuqua said the doula she was paired with through the Nashville Strong Babies project worked hard to make sure she and her baby girl were healthy during stressful times.

“Being pregnant in 2020 was difficult in of itself and having the nurse that I had, she held my hand, she walked me through it because I had kind of a difficult pregnancy,” Fuqua said.

She said she delivered her baby early after blood pressure issues.

That was really scary. I had them for emotional support. I could always reach out at any time and speak with them,” Fuqua said.

Even though her girl came earlier than expected, she didn’t stress about juggling the responsibilities of taking care of her other four kids while bringing home a fifth child.

“Like with her crib, I knew that they were supplying her crib for me,” Fuqua said. “I had diapers, but they were still supplying diapers and wipes.”

State Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, spoke at a press conference where Metro Public Health Department announced it was getting an additional $125,000 to help pair more families in need with doulas. The money is part of almost $5.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“I’ve passed legislation to officially recognize doulas as vital members of the health care team,” Lamar said.

She said this is all in an effort to lower that state’s infant mortality rate, especially among Black women.

“What we do know is Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes, and with this program we talked about today, with them providing doula services to 50 Black women, none of them died and all of them had healthy babies,” Lamar said.

The health department’s Nashville Strong Babies project paired 50 families with doulas as an additional resource. It is hoping to help more families.

Click for information about Nashville Strong Babies.