Birth Sisters is an innovative, multi-cultural service that offers women “sister-like” support and education during pregnancy, childbirth, and the post-partum period. The program trains women from the community to become Birth Sisters, who provide comfort, guidance and support to low-income, expectant mothers who are at risk for adverse outcomes in childbirth. Whether they are helping them through the birthing process or helping at home once the baby is born, Birth Sisters are with mothers every step of the way. Because of the program, BMC has seen a decrease in cesarean deliveries and an exceptional breastfeeding initiation rate. An added benefit of the program is that it provides job skills to the Birth Sisters themselves, and many go on to pursue further education and careers, often in health care.
Since budget cuts were made, the number of births assisted by a Birth Sister in one year has decreased from approximately 1,200 to 200. The average cost of providing a Birth Sister to a low-income expectant mother is about $650, which includes prenatal home visits, labor support, and help at home after the baby comes.