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Baby Fold adds doula services to Healthy Start program for at-risk parents

A white sign with blue lettering reads: The Baby Fold, serving children and families since 1902. The sign is surrounded by green grass and trees.
Eric Stock
The Healthy Start program at The Baby Fold,108 E. Willow St. in Normal, will have trained doulas available to assist expectant parents this fall.

Some expectant parents enrolled in The Baby Fold's Healthy Start program will be able to work with trained doulas this fall as the program expands its services.

The Healthy Start program at the nonprofit in Normal assists at-risk new families with pregnancy through the first five years of a baby's life.

The pilot doula program is the first of its kind in Illinois, made possible with funding from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Doulas provide physical, emotional and informational support before, during and after childbirth. The pilot program will allow doulas trained in labor and child development to assist Healthy Start participants with their birth plan and doctor visits. Doulas also are trained in perinatal mood disorders and postpartum depression.

Expectant parents from McLean or Champaign counties, or those with babies younger than three months old, are eligible for Healthy Start. Referrals may come from hospitals, schools or the health department, but participation is entirely voluntary.

Under the program, a family support worker visits bi-weekly throughout pregnancy and weekly after birth. Participants also receive social support through group events with other Healthy Start families, books and donated baby items such as diapers, blankets and clothes.

Founded in 1902, The Baby Fold provides foster care, special education, early childhood programming and adoption services to children and families in central Illinois.

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Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.
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