I was a volunteer doula for a local YWCA program for teen parents. Through their program, I received free doula training, breastfeeding training, and childbirth education. In return, I served as a doula to teen and young adult mothers. I also conducted a community-engaged process evaluation to help strengthen the program.
I gathered a small team of students and we interviewed teen mothers, doulas, and mentors as well as observed the childbirth and mentoring sessions. We gathered secondary data from the program and collected handouts and manuals used in the sessions. The aim of the study was to (1) understand the experiences the clientele and the volunteers had with the program and (2) identify factors that influenced the teen mothers’ use of supplemental services in order to improve the implementation of the program and increase the number of teens who (a) use doulas and (b) attend parent mentoring sessions after giving birth.
We collaborated with the YWCA staff throughout all phases of the research and they were able to successfully implement helpful changes to the program based on our findings. Two articles came from this study. The first was a narrative analysis of the birthing experiences of young women who went through the program. Our findings were able to identify a typology of stories by teen mothers’ sense of agency and the support they receive. The second article reported on factors that influenced the mothers’ use of doulas and identified areas for program improvement.