First 5 Mendocino held a training for Indigenous Doulas with Melissa Brown of Zaagi’idiwin! From around Mendocino County, 14 Indigenous Doulas and 4 allies attended this training at the beautiful Redwood Valley Rancheria Learning Center. Melissa is a Dine and Anishinaabe Midwife, a Registered Midwife and an Indigenous Doula Trainer. Zaagi’idiwin is her training organization. Local Indigenous Cultural Practitioners- Rose Steele and Martina Morgan supported the training by sharing local birth, cultural traditions, and practices of Tribal communities including the Elem, Yokayo, Pomo, and Kashia Band of Pomo. Wait a minute . . . what’s a doula? To learn more about doulas, check out our previous blog posts.  Why Train Indigenous Doulas? For equity and justice! Mendocino County has the 3rd highest percentage population of Indigenous People in California. In the US and in the Mendocino area, more Indigenous babies are born with low birth weight, preterm, without adequate prenatal 
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We are big fans of doulas. There are more than a few reasons why. On our team, we have personal experience having doulas attend our own births and some of us even trained and worked as doulas. There’s also the science. It tells us doulas help families come out stronger. What’s a doula? Centered around the birthing family, doulas are important partners in the birth care team, along with nurses, midwives, and doctors. Here’s a little bit of what doulas do: Doulas and the Birth Team Some people don’t realize this- that doulas are not health care providers. They are helpers! Doulas focus on care, support, and advocacy. And they are important part of the birth team! Doulas share hours together with families during pregnancy. They stay with families through the whole labor while nurses, midwives and doctors in the hospital usually must divide time between families to ensure everyone gets 
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Doulas and health care providers- including doctors and midwives licensed to practice in California- can support optimal birth and pregnancy outcomes working together. With the new Medi-Cal Benefit covering doula support for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum more families can access doula support. And together doulas and perinatal care providers can make headway improving outcomes and reducing disparities in birth outcomes. 
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The Medi-Cal Doula Benefit A new Medi-Cal doula benefit includes support during pregnancy, labor and birth, and for after baby arrives. They can help with questions about baby care, breastfeeding and lactation, support personal care by giving you a chance to shower, nap or otherwise take care of yourself.
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Doulas get to know your family and your specific needs and priorities. They know pregnancy and birth through training, education, and the experience they have with birthing families. They also know what a big impact how we feel during labor and birth has on our long-term well-being.
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