Why focus on pregnancy, birth, and early parenting?

  • Positive social and educational support during this time has a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of new mothers and their families.
  • Research shows that women who have doula support have fewer complications such as C-sections, lower rates of postpartum depression, and are much more likely to breastfeed.
  • When a mom receives good support during birth and early postpartum, she’s more likely to attach well to her baby — and this decreases the risk of infant mortality or early child abuse and neglect.
  • Parent-child attachment is an essential element in creating a solid foundation that ensures that the child will thrive in his/her learning and readiness for kindergarten and beyond.

Why Open Arms?

Since 1997, Open Arms has served over 2,500 clients and provided over 18,000 home visits.

Open Arms is the only independent, community-based program providing doulas to low-income families in Washington State. Our award-winning program is not hospital-directed or based. Our trusted, community-centered approach always prioritizes the unique cultural, linguistic, and emotional needs of each client, without a conflict of interest, and free of charge.

Open Arms clients are referred from other community partners and agencies who trust us to provide the best possible, culturally-sensitive services to our clients. Over 30% of our referrals are from previous clients who seek our services again or refer friends and family. We are proud to have earned their trust and respect.

Our services:

  • Reduce medical interventions and the costs of perinatal care.
  • Provide education about pregnancy, birth options, breastfeeding, and positive early parenting.
  • Increase self-awareness and personal advocacy skills, which set the stage for new mothers to be strong and confident advocates for their children and families.
  • Remove cultural barriers by providing culturally competent links from community to the health care system.
  • Use culturally-sensitive, evidence-based curricula shown to: improve observed parental sensitivity, improve parent knowledge of child social and emotional needs, improve child behavior and child stress physiology, and improve child welfare outcomes, including a significant reduction in foster care placements.

In December, 2015, the Washington Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities formally recommended that low-income women should have access to birth doulas through Medicaid, with services provided by accredited community-based organizations such as Open Arms, in recognition of the powerful potential to reduce adverse birth outcomes.

In 2015:

  • Over 75% of our clients identified as people of color
  • 22% had unplanned C-sections, significantly lower than rates in King County, despite facing other risk factors
  • Lower rates of preterm labor and low-birth weight relative to local rates in King County
  • Nearly 100% began breastfeeding at birth
  • Over 95% were still breastfeeding after six months

Stories with Impact