Prenatal pivot

The Rotary Club of North Minneapolis and friends prepared mom and baby care packages for participants in the virtual doula program on August 15, 2020 at the Old Highland Peace Garden.

In early 2020, the Rotary Club of North Minneapolis was ready to work with representatives from the March of Dimes to train Hennepin County health care providers in culturally relevant group prenatal care.

Natalie Johnson Lee, the 2019-21 club president, and Jim Tincher, the 2021-22 president, spearheaded the effort after learning that group prenatal care is linked to reductions in preterm births, increased breastfeeding and better satisfaction with physician care.  Co-facilitated by health care workers, culturally relevant group prenatal care and support brings pregnant women together and provides speakers, activities, culturally specific food and on-site child care. “The best way to build trust and confidence in health care is to surround someone with community rather than isolate them,” Tincher says.

But COVID-19 threw a wrench in the plans. One day before the training was to begin, March of Dimes determined that it wasn’t safe to travel. Lee and her team quickly pivoted to virtual (before “pivoting to virtual” became part of the national lexicon) and held the training anyway.  The Rotarians then created a program to provide Black expectant moms with virtual access to Black doulas for physical, emotional and informational support.  In addition the women received new mom and baby kits, including diapers, wipes, onesies, herbal tea, slippers, a journal and more.

“Research shows it is not enough to invite moms into a room and assume that fixes everything,” Tincher says. “If you don’t build it in a culturally appropriate way, it’s not going to be effective. It comes back to what’s going to make moms most comfortable.”