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Tewa Women United

  • Project Title: Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project
  • Contact Information:
  • Location: EspaƱola, NM
  • Program Overview: Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project is part of the Indigenous Women's Health and Reproductive Justice Program, which is housed in Tewa Women United, a multicultural, multiracial nonprofit organization founded and led by Native women. In 1989, what is now Tewa Women United started as an informal support group for Pueblo women. Tewa Women United became a nonprofit organization in 2001.

    Findings from a community health survey in 2003 identified the need for more culturally relevant pregnancy care. The survey findings informed the development of two programs currently housed within the Indigenous Women's Health and Reproductive Justice Program: the Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project (developed in 2008), and the Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Training and Certification program (developed in 2018). Local culture is at the heart of all programming and all programs focus on first-time mothers.

    The Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project receives referrals from obstetricians, midwives, home visitors, and families who self-refer. The project contracts with local community doulas who provide services to local pregnant women. Yiya Vi Kagingdi doulas provide full spectrum doula care to women planning to give birth at home, at a local birth center, or in local hospitals.

    Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project services include:
    • Two prenatal visits
    • Continuous labor and birth support
    • Immediate postpartum support
    • Three postpartum visits (one visit within 48 hours of birth, and the other two between 2-4 weeks)
    Should families require extra support, doulas also provide referrals to a network of wraparound care and community resources, including advanced lactation support, postpartum depression support, and home visiting. The Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project also provides one-on-one doula care for families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, including miscarriage, abortion, and infant loss.

    The project provides low- to no-cost doula care for families residing in the six Tewa speaking Pueblos, Espanola Valley and Rio Arriba County, and pays each doula a living wage for their services. Families are offered the opportunity to give back to the doula program, either financially (ranging from $0-$600 per birth, as families are able) or through volunteer services — gardening at the office, sharing photos, sharing birth stories, donating baby clothes, teaching classes, among other volunteer opportunities.

    Considerations for implementing a model such as Yiya Vi Kagingdi include:
    • Secure adequate funding. Do not underestimate budgetary needs. Ensure the budget accommodates paying doulas a living wage for the hours of care they provide, as well as monthly staff meetings which provide peer support and supervision. Ideally the budget will also include emergency funds to provide necessities for families in need, such as diapers, postpartum meals, baby carriers, acupuncture for postpartum depression, and other unanticipated expenses.
    • Keep a robust database. Demonstrating the community impact and cost savings provided by the doula program is critical for securing additional funding, or seeking policy change (for example, adding doula services to Medicaid reimbursement). Having all quantitative and qualitative data organized and clean eases the process of writing reports and seeking funding.
    • Cultivate strong relationships with local care providers. Build professional relationships with providers, and set up meetings outside of the labor and delivery unit for doulas, midwives, obstetricians, nurses, and lactation professionals to connect and educate each other. Advocate for doulas' attendance in operating rooms, so that doulas may continue to provide support during cesarean births and vaginal twin deliveries.

Models represented by this program: