Here's Why Doulas Get a Big Boost From the Kellogg Foundation

Having gone through labor myself not three weeks ago, I can tell you there are many choices involved in how to give birth and what to feed babies once they are born. But almost any mom will tell you that a more comfortable labor is better than an uncomfortable one (although the definition of comfort in this case can be debated). And there's a general consensus in the health community that breastfeeding is more optimal than feeding babies formula.

But life presents some economic realities that often interfere with the relative comfort of a woman's labor or her capacity to provide a steady supply of breast milk for her child. Doula care, which can lead to more comfortable birth (and more optimal birth outcomes), often is not financially available to lower-income women. And breastfeeding? Frankly, it's just not physically possible for many moms to supply breast milk every two or three hours, especially if their jobs do not have paid maternity leave or support on-site pumping. These are only a couple of reasons why breastfeeding practices in the United States are closely tied to a mother's socioeconomic status. Lower-income jobs are less likely to offer paid parental leave or breastfeeding support, forcing many women in these positions to choose between working and breastfeeding.

Through a more than $3 million grant to HealthConnect One, the child wellness-focused W.K. Kellogg Foundation is putting some major support behind both doulas and breastfeeding. HealthConnect One is a Chicago-based nonprofit engaged in improving pregnancy, birth, and early childhood care in the United States. With the three-year funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, HealthConnect One is assisting thousands of families in Michigan, Illinois, Mississippi and New Mexico in obtaining doula care and breastfeeding support within their local communities. (Read WKKF's Program Director of Food, Health and Well Being Linda Jo Doctor's IP profile.)

With more than $7 billion in assets, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is a philanthropic giant in the area of child wellness. (Read Kellogg's Program Officer for Nutrition Diana Derige's IP profile.) The foundation supports work in a number of child-centric areas, including breastfeeding, childhood obesity, and other issues relating to childhood well-being. (See W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Grants for Health Policy and Access.) The W.K. Kellogg Foundation solicits inquiries for grants on an ongoing basis. Relevant information for grantseekers is here.