Cleveland, Ohio (April 4, 2024) A free event designed to bring attention to the role doulas can play in supporting childbirth and postpartum care — particularly among Black parents and parents of color — will take place in Cleveland Saturday.

Doulas are birthing professionals who provide information and counseling during pregnancy, comfort during labor and assistance with breastfeeding and newborn care.

The event, called the Doula and Community Expo, will provide more information about being a doula through panel discussions, interactive workshops and networking opportunities, as well as health screenings, dance breaks and a childcare space. It’s organized by Birthing Beautiful Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the infant and maternal mortality rate in Cleveland.

“It’s allowing doulas, birth workers, midwives, moms and community members to all come together and have this kind of trade show experience,” said Krista Lumpkins-Howard of Birthing Beautiful Communities. “Then you’re able to see what’s working, what’s not working, have engaging conversations.”

Cuyahoga County’s infant mortality rate in 2020 was 7.6 per 1,000 live births, compared with the national rate of 5.4 per 1,000. Statewide, Ohio also has higher-than-average infant mortality rates, and Black mothers are disproportionately affected. The rate for Black Ohioans is 164% higher than it is for white Ohioans.

Lumpkins-Howard said doulas are a critical component, for women of color especially, to have better labor and birth outcomes.

“Our goal is to connect the dots of those social determinants of health for our clients,” she said. “We want to make sure that doulas have the tools that they need.”

The event is open to new doulas, those already in the profession and anyone interested in becoming a doula, said Lumkins-Howard.

“Birth is sacred and we want to uphold that,” she said. “So we want to make sure that when people are thinking about becoming a doula, they realize … how much of an honor it is to be a part of someone’s labor and birth experience.”

The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at BLDG17CLE, 4700 Lakeside Ave. Cleveland, on the second floor.

Ideastream Public Media | By Taylor Wizner