Imani Bowden and baby Zoiie-Li were so pleased to get their healthy start as a family at Community of Hope.
Imani Bowden and baby Zoiie-Li were so pleased to get their healthy start as a family at Community of Hope.

I had my baby with Community of Hope. It could not have been better. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a natural birth and asked my first doctor. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like that practice provided personalized care and didn’t feel much support. I was introduced to Community of Hope by my partner’s mentor and had not heard of them before. I didn’t know what a midwife was or that midwives could deliver babies like doctors do. After talking with the midwives who answered my questions, I ended up switching care providers around 20 weeks.

Besides appointments with midwives, Community of Hope has other helpful resources I used. The “Ride for Moms” program, which gave me free Uber rides to and from appointments, was so helpful because I do not drive. I also enjoyed the CenteringPregnancy® program, which provides group prenatal care and education. There were a lot of things that my partner and I didn’t know — like how long the milk would last in the refrigerator versus freezer. It was also nice to chat with other moms, especially during COVID. I don’t think I would have connected to others the same way at a doctor’s office.

When I went into labor and my contractions were really close together, my midwife and doula were calm and knowledgeable. They had me try different positions to help the baby move down faster. I’m happy I was at the birth center because I had more freedom to let my body do what felt natural to do. At one point, I was considering getting the epidural, but they kept assuring me that my baby was coming and that I could really have what I wanted — a natural birth.

When she was finally born, I felt instant relief and exhaustion! Holding her for the first time and feeling happy, I realized she came out of me. Here I was thinking I couldn’t do it or make it through, and I did. If it wasn’t for the midwives and my doula motivating me through it, I might have given up. It was a long experience, but I’m very grateful for how it happened.

At my follow-up visit the next day, I was connected with the lactation specialists. I needed them to help get my milk supply up. I struggled with breastfeeding in the beginning, and the lactation specialist provided reassurance that everything was normal. It was definitely what I needed after delivery to make sure we were off to the best healthy start.

I want other parents to know that they can choose different options for their prenatal care and birth; that people don’t have to go with traditional care. I felt an immense feeling of safety and comfortability when I got to Community of Hope, and I think it is a great option for all moms. Having a team around you that truly cares is important when you are pregnant. I want to have another baby with them!

Baby Zoiie-Li’s health shines through with her smiles.

Community of Hope offers the best hope for a healthy start for families. This federal program is available for DC residents and aims to improve health outcomes before, during, and after pregnancy, and to reduce racial/ethnic differences in rates of infant death and adverse pregnancy outcomes. It is offered specifically to families who live in Wards 5, 7, and 8. Families in these areas are often long-term residents of DC who have lived here for generations and are rooted in the community.

Highlights of the services include midwives and OB providers, doula services, connections to home visiting, free rides to appointments, 24-hour medical advice, care coordination, health education, CenteringPregnancy sessions, breastfeeding support, and parenting classes including support services for partners and fathers. They have room for your family. Do what I did, call 202.540.9857 to secure a Healthy Start for your baby and family today.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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