A Doula for Every Family , Health Advocates & Personal Support

Meet Brianna Dowden, a new full spectrum Doula from Healthy Start who will be working with The Pittsburgh Study’s Healthy Pregnancy Collaborative to partner on a project called a Doula for Every Family in the Wilkinsburg community. This research-based program intervention includes providing physical, mental, and educational guidance for birthing mothers, and expecting people. 

“My main goal, since becoming a part of The Doula for every family project is to improve the health of black mothers and children in our community, and by teaming up with our local researchers and health organizations we have been doing a great job so far at reaching families in this area.  So far in the DFEF program I have supported 3 mothers in the Wilkinsburg community and 2 more expected births coming up this winter. The DFEF study also provides mothers with postpartum care as well and we have one mom who has requested postpartum care from me individually through word of mouth in the community. 

And a little amount of time that I have spent with the research study program, and with healthy store in the program, it has been rewarding to me to help out black women in my community, and to advocate for them and the labor and delivery room. Also building meaningful bonds with the birthing mothers and their families.  Since I’ve started in my position, I’ve been able to work with an amazing team of women who have aided me in reaching milestones such as training in prenatal and postpartum care & holistic approach to keep my grounded for my participants. 

I think the highlight of my experience with the doula program , so far would be my first birth back in September! I was very comfortable in my role and already had created a relationship with the family which made the environment and vibe within the labor and delivery room so much more blissful and sacred. Also, my first birth set the expectations for myself on how much I appreciate the birth work that we provide our participants. Now I am hitting the ground running and I have guided four beautiful , healthy babies into this world which is more rewarding than anything. 


What inspired you to be a doula?

What inspired me to be a doula was I’ve always be a helping hand for my community and connecting family and friends with recourse to aid them through tough times in life. Essentially within motherhood. Being as though I’ve never had this type of support while I was pregnant, I found it amazing that I’d had been making referral for women already and it’s rewarding to help connect people with organizations including healthy start that are put in place to help them.     

Share a memorable experience you had while supporting an expectant mother.

My sister was pregnant with her second child and needless to say that every pregnancy is really a different journey. She was considered high risk at about 13 weeks Witch made me very sensitive to this pregnancy since neither one of us had experienced a high risk pregnancy. At the time there was a lot of moving factors including inconsistent housing, unhealthy eating habits and increased stress levels because of all these moving parts at the time it now made sense why this was a high risk pregnancy. Because of a placental abruption my nephew was born early and only weighing 3lb. And 11oz. We were very concerned for baby. This  made me jump right into my role now as a doula. I advocated for my sister by helping her understand the process we were going through. Throughout our visit in the hospital, I reassured her that everything is fine. Massaging her to keep her calm while contracting. Asking the hard questions if she had difficulty understanding providers terminology. Also providing referrals and programs to enroll in for extra help for mom and baby. I knew then and now that I would succeed at being a doula and help mothers enjoy the birth of there baby instead of just getting through birth.

What do you hope to achieve through your role as a doula with the pregnancy collaborative ?

My hopes with the pregnancy collaborative is to help me connect with mothers in black community’s that don’t necessarily have the info or resources to improve there overall health before, during and after pregnancy! 

Any hobbies or interests you’d like the share outside of your doula work? 

Hobbies of mines include a lot of mindfulness projects and exploring my creativity through writing, exercising & working out outdoors. I also love to paint & spend meaningful time with family, while practicing meditation in my downtime.