For over 40 years, early childhood providers and society-at-large have struggled to find more effective
ways to reach young, at-risk parents whose children are less likely to do well in school. Special Delivery
Doulas is a program designed by and to be delivered through the collaborative efforts of REACHUP, Inc.
(RU), Champions for Children, and United Cerebral Palsy of Tampa/Mental Health Care (MHC).
The intent of the Special Delivery Doula program is to positively impact early parenting behaviors by
increasing social support and early parenting skills among participants, with a focus on breastfeeding.
Extensive outreach with providers and community organizations will be conducted to engage and serve
pregnant women whose infants are at highest risk for poor health, social and cognitive outcomes and
whose infants would benefit most from breastfeeding. With an enhanced referral system, the program
will engage and serve women and families with the following risk factors: weak or no social support;
less than a high school education, adolescent; incarceration; homelessness; affected by natural disaster;
positive depression screen; substance abuse; history of physical and sexual abuse; and/or a serious
chronic medical condition like high blood pressure or diabetes.
The key component of this program will be the utilization of doulas. A doula (pronounced "doó la", also
known as a labor coach and originating from the ancient Greek word δούλη meaning female servant
or slave) is a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her
partner and/or family by providing information, physical assistance, and emotional support.
The overall goal of a doula is for the mother to feel safe and comfortable, whereas the goal of doctors
and nurses is to ensure a safe delivery for mother and child. The kinds of support provided during
childbirth may include physical assistance and comfort (massage, maintaining a supporting posture
or providing water), emotional support (providing company, encouragement or simply talking in
a soothing tone of voice), information (advice or the progress of the childbirth), and acting as an
advocate for the woman undergoing childbirth, working in concert with the medical team.
Special Delivery Doula Program provides perinatal support services, including childbirth education/
mentoring classes, labor and delivery support, postpartum support and instruction and lactation
consultant services. The Program is expected to reduce maternal stress; increase duration and quality
of breastfeeding; promote positive mom/baby bonding and interaction; increase the new mom’s
self-esteem, confidence and overall satisfaction with the social support she receives; and aid in the
diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression.
Special Delivery Doula is available throughout Hillsborough County for medically/socially at risk
pregnant women at no cost.
Funder: The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County