Partnering with Community Doulas to Improve

Maternal and Infant Health Equity in California

Project Summary

Background: Doulas are trained professionals who provide educational, physical, and spiritual support before, during, and after childbirth. Doula support is associated with improved maternal and infant outcomes. Although limited, research on the benefits of doula care has led to identification of doula care as a strategy to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. Specifically, research on the impact of community doulas is limited; community doulas provide comprehensive services at low or no cost to underserved communities, are often members of the communities they serve, and share cultures and languages with their clients. Stakeholder engagement, particularly from women of color and community doulas whose voices have largely been absent from research and policy conversations, is vital for future patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) on the impact of community doula care.


Proposed Solution to the Problem: The project team will create a collaborative of stakeholders in California that will facilitate equitable, ethical, and PCOR on community doula care. This approach will be successful because it creates the infrastructure for the development of a shared research agenda that centers women of color and community doulas. California is ideal for this work, given ongoing pilots evaluating the impact of community doula care in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and interest from policy makers to advance Medicaid coverage for doula care.


Objectives: The project’s objective is to establish a collaborative of California stakeholders to develop a research agenda for community doula care as an intervention to advance maternal and infant health equity. The long-term objective is to inform patient-centered, equity-focused, community-informed research on the impact of community doula care.


Leadership Team

Dr. Cassondra Marshall, Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor | Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program

University of California, Berkeley

Marna Armstead

Executive Director

SisterWeb San Francisco Community Doula Network

Starr Britt

Director of Sustainability

Roots of Labor Birth Collective

Dr. Anu Manchikanti Gomez

Associate Professor | School of Social Welfare

Director | SHARE Program

University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Monica McLemore

Associate Professor | Department of Family Health Care Nursing

Executive Director | ACTIONS

University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Sayida Peprah

Program Co-Director

Frontline Doulas


Steering Committee Members

Natalie Berbick

PEI Coordinator, Contra Costa County

Amy Chen

Senior Attorney, National Health Law Program

Coming Soon

Marlena Cohen

Steering Committee Member

Ajira Darch

Steering Committee Member

Shantay Davies-Balch

Founder, Black Wellness and Prosperity Center

Coming Soon

Kimberley Durdin

Student Midwife, Kindred Space LA

Pratima Gupta

OB/GYN and Assistant Professor

University of California, San Diego

Mashariki Kudumu

Maternal and Child Health Director, March of Dimes

Pooja Mittal

Medical Director, California Health and Wellness


Curley Palmer

PEI Coordinator, Riverside County

Coming Soon

Ayori Sellasie

Steering Committee Member

Truc Tang

Clinical Quality Program Director, California Medicaid Anthem

Kimeshia Thomas

Steering Committee Member

Kimeshia Thomas

OB/GYN, University of Southern California