Sentara Health Plans to sponsor community doula training offered by Urban Baby Beginnings

Sentara Health Plans and Urban Baby Beginnings (UBB®) are partnering to address health disparities for women living in Southwestern Virginia.

Sentara Health Plans will fund the tuition and fees for six participants to complete a community doula training program offered by UBB. The program includes eight weeks of training, consisting of more than 60 hours of live instruction and virtual coursework with extensive hands-on skill practice. Upon completion of the course, these participants will have the skills necessary to provide support to expecting and recent mothers in the community.

Women living in rural areas often experience difficulties receiving adequate health care during their pregnancy and the period immediately following the childbirth. These regions are commonly referred to as maternal care deserts, and pregnant women living in these areas are 60 percent more likely to die during childbirth than women receiving adequate maternal care elsewhere.

Virginia state lawmakers believe community doulas are part of the solution to reverse the disparities in maternal health outcomes. Virginia is the fourth state to include free community doula services for Medicaid members. Community doulas are certified, non-medical professionals trained to provide the supplemental physical, emotional, and mental support needed during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

“By partnering with Urban Baby Beginnings, Sentara Health Plans can address the critical disparities and help provide the culturally competent care that Black mothers and other mothers of color desperately need,” said Chantel Neece, senior director of maternal and child service and member social determinants of health at Sentara Health Plans. “The collaboration will not only help bring doulas to the Southwest Virginia region, but also spread awareness of what additional resources and services are available to help supplement their standard maternal care.”

UBB is now accepting applications for the community doula training program that will begin in March 2024. Applicants can learn more information about the training program by visiting or by calling BBB at 833-782-2229.