women gathered in a conference room in front of large screen at training

HC One Trains Emerging Birth Workers In Milwaukee, WI

During this pandemic, HealthConnect One (HC One) continues to provide training and consulting to organizations across the country. The rise in COVID-19 cases makes community-based doulas, even more, important in supporting moms and babies especially “pregnant Latina and Black women who are infected at significantly higher rates than white women.”  Data shows that community-based doulas (CBD) are an important part of ensuring positive birth and lactation outcomes in vulnerable communities.

Recently, HealthConnect One did a virtual doula training for the city of Milwaukee Health Department’s Birth Outcomes Made Better Doula Program. It was led by Wandy Hernandez-Gordon, who is a DONA certified birth doula, and Brenda Reyes, lead on peer lactation services. At this time, community-based doulas need to be supported to be safe and effective in their communities. HC One trainers provide participants with the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, the long-term impact on Black and Brown communities, and resources they’re able to use through telehealth services.

In HC One’s Virtual Doula Training, participants learned the fundamentals of becoming a DONA private birth doula. They also learned about HC One’s Community-Based Doula Program that is the only home visiting program with a commitment to support birthing families prenatally, during labor and postpartum. The peer-to-peer relationship and the continuity of care creates a close-knit fabric of support around the family, which has a broad and deep impact on a variety of outcomes.

The training included an important breastfeeding educational component. “Breastfeeding provides tremendous health and mental benefit for the mother, baby, parents, and community. The trainer reviewed the recent recommendation from the World Health Organization focused on COVID-19 and lactation. “It’s important to continue supporting, protecting, and promoting breastfeeding, said Brenda Reyes. “The communities we work with can identify for themselves how they protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.”

As a result of this virtual doula training, the participants will be able to support and educate birthing families in pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. This will help and improve birth outcomes in their communities because they are educating individuals early in the process.

HealthConnect One’s birth equity work continues to be more important than ever because during this pandemic racial health disparities are even more prevalent. “Due to the pandemic, discrimination continues to impact Black and Latinx communities,” said Wandy Hernandez-Gordon. “During this time, HC One is able to advocate, educate and lend our virtual platforms to do trainings, offer free webinars and provide a platform for community health workers to share information, experiences, and seek support, during this critical time.”

Is your organization interested in a virtual doula training? Contact us at info@healthconnectone.org 

Q and A: SisterWeb Birth Doula Workshop in January


In January, Health Connect One trainers Brenda Reyes and Tikvah Wadley coached a group of doulas at SisterWeb in San Francisco. We had a conversation with SisterWeb’s Marna Armstead and Alli Cuentos afterward to learn more about the experience from the local organization’s perspective. Here are some brief highlights from the conversation:

Q. Can you share some background about Sisterweb?

A. SisterWeb was born out of a beautiful vision shared amongst the communities most impacted by adverse birth outcomes in San Francisco. From the Bayview to the Mission District, from the stories of doulas who were met with the financial and logistical barriers of on call lifestyle to the stories of mothers met with racism and fear-mongering during their pregnancies – we listened, and shared our own stories.

Many birth professionals from within these communities were looking for a way to organize our collective impact and work strategically together but lacked committed funding and people paid to help weave and sustain the “web”.

SisterWeb now carries out workforce development and ongoing coaching for women from underserved communities joining the birth worker industry. SisterWeb reaches birthing women and families from these same communities by way of doula care and other support services.

SisterWeb also impacts the entirety of the Medical and Family Support landscape in SF by way of our participation in community forums, task forces, and individual partnerships. It is our vision that SisterWeb be the working web of support for birthing families, doulas, doula mentors, and health care professionals from within historically underserved communities for many generations to come. We are part of the solution to restore our city, one birth at a time!

Q. What made you choose HealthConnect One to provide birth doula training?

A. What stuck out was how HealthConnect One has developed over time a pedagogy using popular education that centers the experiences of doulas of color, specifically black and brown doulas.

SisterWeb was able to bring in a lot of the local knowledge and wisdom but we worked collaboratively for months in planning a training that leveraged the historical and national perspectives HealthConnect One is bringing and the local wisdom of doulas in San Francisco.

Local knowledge is needed to be successful – a lot of people commented in the training evaluations that having both approaches made the training more meaningful and relevant than a training that was exclusively on-the-ground… knowledge from San Francisco.  They appreciated the time-tested teaching methods of the HealthConnect One model – they’ve not just developed the curriculum, they’ve tested it over and over around the country and refined that knowledge.

Our participants are also walking away with resources – HealthConnect One’s manual and the connections to Brenda Reyes and Tikvah Wadley, who are very involved in national birth equity work, as well as access to Dona certification, which is huge, while at the same time having been up and close and personal with Sisterweb’s staff.

Q. Can you talk about how birth equity was incorporated into the workshop?

A. Training participants learned not just best practices of ‘doula-ing’ but best practices for being a doula of color working in communities most impacted by racism. … A lot of doula trainings focus on a body of knowledge that was centering white private doulas… Several people in the training commented that kind of doula work has its helpfulness but also has its shortcomings, and this was very much not that.

Women Experiencing Incarceration Learn Community-Based Doula Skills


by Diana Pando

Every year, millions of women are experiencing being incarcerated. Of them, “80% are mothers and 150,000 of these women are pregnant when admitted,” according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

Women in prison are supporting their pregnant peers – but may lack tools and training that would help them in that effort. Nonprofit agency Chicago Volunteer Doulas sought to remedy that by bringing a doula training to the Logan Correctional Facility.  The group turned to HC One’s Tikvah Wadley, Lead Doula and Brenda Reyes, Peer Lactation Specialist, to lead a workshop at the facility in central Illinois in December.

“Women who are incarcerated have already been supporting their peers; we wanted to provide training, structure, and access to further empower them to do so,” said Maggie Quinn, Chicago Volunteer Doulas’ Peer Doula Program Coordinator. “HealthConnect One seemed like a great partner to facilitate the first peer doula training in that regard. We also wanted the peer doulas to have the option to complete doula certification upon their release as a potential career opportunity, which is why HC One provided a DONA certified training.”

The first day of the training began with an ice breaker that had participants laughing and clapping, Wadley said. The intergenerational group of women attending this training were strangers to each other even though they often saw each other on the correctional grounds. During the training, participants learned community-based doula skills and were able to get answers to their perinatal health questions.

Despite being incarcerated for various reasons, participants were able to establish commonalities through a healing circle led by Wadley.  As a result, there was a bond created among them.

Pregnant women in correctional facilities face many issues like isolation, lack of mental health support, shackling and separation from their infant once they are born, Reyes noted. These women also face a higher risk for experiencing complications during pregnancy and birth.

“There is a dehumanization and trauma that happens when you are an incarcerated person,” she said. Reyes said training incarcerated women to become doulas is vital to expectant moms in facilities because it can have a positive impact on the mom during pregnancy and postpartum.

Wadley and Reyes both also noted the new skill set may serve as a stepping stone for the participants to paying work in the future after leaving the facility. They also gained skills to improve birth outcomes and organize around policy change at the facility.

“Every community deserves healthy moms and babies,” Wadley said.

Breastfeeding Peer Advocate LaTonia Clark

“I’ve learned a lot in regards to breastfeeding,” says SGA Family Services’ LaTonia Clark about her participation in HealthConnect One’s Breastfeeding Advocate Training. She appreciates that the training was interactive.

“The class… it’s gonna help us out as we work with new prenatal mothers. …They’re gonna get a lot of understanding for child development, and infant and maternal wellbeing.”

Thank you, LaTonia, for your support and kind words – and even more importantly, for the work you do with new parents every day.

Check out our next Breastfeeding Advocate Training:

Chicago, April 24-26, 2019

Breastfeeding Peer Advocate Michelle Neumann

Michelle Neumann, who serves moms with children two years old and under, recently took HealthConnect One’s Breastfeeding Advocate Training with SGA Family Services.

“I learned a lot about breastfeeding in a different way than I’m used to,” she says. “I learned a lot about the basics and fundamentals of breastfeeding . . . Miss Helen and Miss Tikvah are great resources. Even their personal stories help me with the parents that I serve.”

She goes on: “I did take a course that was very in-depth and detailed, very intense, but it was just so much information and so overwhelming that it didn’t give me the knowledge that I needed to just be basic and to answer specific questions.”

And now? “If anyone asks me questions about breastfeeding, I’m on it … If I see one of my friends are pregnant, I automatically, ‘Ohmygod, are you gonna breastfeed? Are you interested in breastfeeding? If you have any questions, let me know…'”

Breastfeeding advocates like Michelle are why we love to facilitate trainings. Thank you, Michelle, for the support and the inspiration!

Check out our next Breastfeeding Advocate Training:

Chicago, April 24-26, 2019

Fulfilling My Dreams: Becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor

Since 2016, HealthConnect One partnered with the Healthy Children Project, Inc. to offer Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) Training Scholarships to Community-Based Doulas and Breastfeeding Peer Counselors who were (1) Trained under the HealthConnect One curriculum and (2) Providing breastfeeding support in their communities. In response to questions from HealthConnect One Program Coordinator Helen Dimas, Thaneshia Newby shares about her experience after receiving one of three CLC training scholarships in 2017.


Breastfeeding was my first choice when I was pregnant with my first child 15 years ago, and as a mom of three breastfed children, I encourage others to breastfeed daily. Before becoming a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor — and now a Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) — I encouraged family, friends, and strangers.

I am that person who sees an expectant mom in the grocery store, mall, bus stop — wherever! — and I have politely walked up, asked how she was doing, her due date, etc. and then I would ask if she was considering breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Based on her answers, I would just tell her the benefits of breastfeeding and share my experience as a breastfeeding mom.

I’m happy to say that most of the moms were receptive and smiled, and I would just say, “Have a great day.”

The importance of mother’s milk for her baby has been my “mission,” and so becoming a lactation professional was what God had planned for me ☺. It is because of this that I go into the office every day and encourage moms and babies. It is my passion, not my job.

When I was awarded a scholarship for the CLC course, I was excited. I knew I wanted to further my education and become more knowledgeable and proficient. I wanted to make sure I was able to provide my clients with the best and most accurate information, quality care and compassion.

I successfully passed and am proud to say I am now a CLC. This has been one of my greatest accomplishments thus far.

I learned a lot, met some fabulous peers and some, I have bonded with and we talk regularly. Earning my CLC certification has given me a boost of confidence, and enhanced my mission to help promote the importance of breastfeeding and make it the norm. I make sure I continue to serve my clients with that confident energy, so that they feel confident. I want to make sure I have helped ease their minds and get them over any barriers they may have come to me with, by the time our consultation is over.

I love what I do, and I wouldn’t trade this journey as a Lactation Professional for anything! Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity and helping me fulfill one of my dreams: Obtaining my CLC Certification!

Thaneshia Newby is a breastfeeding peer counselor trained by HealthConnect One, a proud mother of three, and a Certified Lactation Consultant.

Powerful Women — My CLC Course

Since 2016, HealthConnect One partnered with the Healthy Children Project, Inc. to offer Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) Training Scholarships to Community-Based Doulas and Breastfeeding Peer Counselors who were (1) Trained under the HealthConnect One curriculum and (2) Providing breastfeeding support in their communities. In response to questions from HealthConnect One Program Coordinator Helen Dimas, Hannah White shares about her experience after receiving one of three CLC training scholarships in 2017.


My name is Hannah White. I’m the mother of two, ages 13 and 3, both of whom breastfed over the three year mark. Seven years of my life so far have been spent with a baby or child at the boob.

I first heard about HealthConnect One when I trained with them to become a breastfeeding peer counselor during my year of service with AmeriCorps. Supporting breastfeeding has been a mission of mine since I started reading Mothering Magazine at twelve years old. It has saddened and angered me to hear and see women and babies being deprived of vital nutrients for lifelong health and the precious bonding and joy of breastfeeding, due to the spreading of misinformation and manipulation by formula companies and careless “health” protocols that were anything but. Being a peer counselor was the first step on my journey to support families and nurture the breastfeeding relationship.

Already more than half a decade has passed since I became a peer counselor. Without this scholarship, it would optimistically be years before I’d be able to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) on my own. When I first learned that I was a recipient of the CLC scholarship, I was ecstatic. It was one of those feelings you have when it seems like the universe is conspiring to help you fulfill your life’s purpose. Becoming a CLC is a crucial part of my being able to provide the best care possible for the families I serve, and being able to reach more people.

Earning the CLC credential has allowed me to further my learning—to improve upon my knowledge of how breastfeeding works. I care about having the most up to date information at my disposal. I care about having the tools to actually help families with more than just good intentions. I hope to extend the care that I am able to offer moms in any setting, including through doula work, personal relationships, community outreach, through education campaigns, and more. My ideal position is in a hospital setting—to help mothers at a critical time—and to work with hospital administration to improve their protocols and policies for infant care and feeding.

Breastfeeding is such an important part of life. It’s our introduction to the world as human beings—held close in our mother’s arms—learning that we are safe and loved. It teaches babies to be calm, to trust themselves, to respect their source of nourishment—both their mother, and the earth. It teaches us that the human connection is an important aspect of every part of the way we live. It teaches families and societies to be inclusive and respectful of women and the power that they contribute to the well-being of humanity. It teaches families and society to act with tolerance, patience, love, and spontaneity. It teaches us to work together.

The joy that I have known in being able to nourish my children at the breast and to watch them grow in confidence, independence, kindness, health and intelligence—pushes me to want to help other people to know these gifts. The trust and connection that my children and I share is beyond comparison. I want to create in this world, the possibility that every mother, baby, and family gets to learn and grow in the gift that is breastfeeding, and as grandiose as it may sound—I want to counter the evil forces at work to deprive them and us of this experience.

Breastfeeding is the normal, biological way that babies eat—and humans—well, all mammals—feed. Because mothers and babies depend on the rest of society to be able to accomplish this, the normal thing would be for fathers, families, friends, employers, and healthcare workers to follow suit. It would follow that medical researchers would treat alternative feeding methods and nutrition as just that—alternatives—interventions. Shockingly, this has not been the case.

Due to the success of formula company marketing, breastfeeding has been touted as a “bonus,” a deviation from the norm. This faulty paradigm has caused errors in “scientific” research, where controls and variables were flip-flopped. It has caused errors in how people analyze the health, nutrition, and biological and psychological development of infants, children, and humans in general, including the psychological and biological health of postpartum women.

Thankfully, this is starting to change. I absolutely LOVED that the CLC course emphasized the biological norm of breastfeeding, and the use of breastfeeding for norm referencing. I LOVED that they taught us normal feeding first and foremost, and then taught us problem-solving as it relates to deviation from normal healthy infant feeding.

The CLC course was jam packed with information. It was thorough and extensive, but also rapid fire and lecture-based. There is no way that it can all settle-in after one week. It still requires extensive reading and rereading of the texts they provided, as well as hands-on experience talking to moms, listening to moms, and working with other experienced providers to learn how to best help moms. I’m glad that I went to it as a peer counselor with professional experience, providing places for the information to settle.

I am so glad that I got to participate in this training, to earn this credential, and to be surrounded by many intelligent, passionate and driven women who are going to use their gifts to change policy, to change practice, and to improve how people think and act about breastfeeding. This was a beautiful unexpected benefit of the course. Being in the room with this incredible female brain power was a transcending moment for me. These women, my classmates, have taken the initiative to improve who they are so that they can cut through the day-to-day b.s. of going-through the motions in their personal and professional interactions. Instead, they are choosing ways that are personal, meaningful, positive, transformative, and make an impact. I’m moved.

Most of the people in class were not there because they had to be there or because it was going to give them a pay raise. Most were there because they wanted to be there and they were going against the grain, taking time away from work, from their families, and from their paychecks to do so—only to go back to workplaces, families, organizations, and whole societies where they will continue to work against the grain to foster agency for babies and their families. My classmates were women who are committed to having meaningful, competent interactions that provide a lifelong benefit to the people they touch. I’m honored to have participated in the course with them.

Hannah White started supporting mothers as a breastfeeding peer counselor and health educator through AmeriCorps. She continues to volunteer with mothers in Chicago and supports mothers as a private doula and as a volunteer with Chicago Volunteer Doulas.

Prenatal Training Impacts More than Birth

Doris Torres

¡Gracias a nuestros amigos de Waukegan, Illinois por invitarnos a facilitar este entrenamiento prenatal en español para promotores de salud de la comunidad!
Thank you to our friends in Waukegan, Illinois for inviting us to facilitate this prenatal training for Community Health Workers in Spanish.

¿Cómo este entrenamiento ha impactado mi vida o trabajo?

Soy promotora de salud, y a lo largo de todos estos años he recibido muchos entrenamientos, ahora puedo decir con mucha certeza de que este entrenamiento ha sido uno de los importantes e interesantes, porque he aprendido muchas cosas que no sabía, durante cada clase he aprendido cosas nuevas y muy interesantes. Agradecemos a las exponentes porque lo hicieron en forma clara y entendible, demostrando mucha paciencia – e hicieron mucha interacción y participación con nosotros. La verdad que estoy muy contenta de haber tenido la oportunidad de haber recibido estas clases y muy agradecida – con la Sra Eusebia y Wandy, también con las gestoras de este programa, como también la Úniversidad Rosalind Franklin por promover este tipo de programas que ayudan mucho a la comunidad que necesita saber de más profundamente de este tema.

En la forma que nos pueden ayudar es que si hay algo nuevo que no sabemos actualizarnos via “Email” y donde conseguir material didáctico para nuestras presentaciones. Muchas Gracias.

How has this training impacted my life or work?

I am a health promoter, and over the years I have received many trainings. Now I can say with much certainty that this training has been one of the most important and interesting, because I learned many things I did not know. We thank the instructors because they explained in a clear and understandable manner, showing great patience – and had a lot of interaction and participation with us.

Actually I’m very glad I had the opportunity to receive these classes and I’m very grateful to Ms. Eusebia and Wandy, also to the management of this program, as well as Rosalind Franklin University to promote these types of programs that really help the community to more deeply understand this subject. Thank you so much.

Ruth Landero Méndez

¿Cómo este entrenamiento ha impactado mi vida o trabajo?

Buenas Tardes. Mi nombre es Ruth Landero Méndez, antes que nada le doy las gracias a Dios, a mis maestros y sobre todo a este entrenamiento que me dio la oportunidad de compartir y aprender más en este proyecto y entrenamiento para promocionar la salud, la cual me ha ayudado mucho tanto en mí vida personal como profesional, para así poder también orientar a las personas que están a mi lado como amigos, familiares y gente de la comunidad.

Al igual fue importante para mí ya que aprendí mucha información por ejemplo de planificación familiar, métodos que no había conocido, también la importancia de dar lactancia que ahora entiendo como madre lo hermoso ya que tengo un acercamiento y afecto más cercano a mi hija.

How has this training impacted my life or work?

Good afternoon. My name is Ruth Landero Mendez. First of all, I thank God, my teachers and especially this training that gave me the opportunity to share and learn and promote health. It has helped me a lot in both personal and professional life, so I can also guide people who are close to me, like friends, family and people from the community.

It was important for me because I learned a lot of information such as family planning methods that I had not known; also, the importance of breastfeeding. Now as a mother, I understand how beautiful it is, as I have a closer approach and affection for my daughter.

Carmen Luna

¿Cómo este entrenamiento ha impactado mi vida o trabajo?

Mi nombre es Carmen Luna Paiz, me gustaría compartir sobre todo lo bueno que hemos aprendido en estas clases. Estas clases me han impactado, han sido bien explicadas y estoy feliz de conocer más y así poder ayudar a todas las demás personas que así como yo no saben todo lo que las instructoras nos han enseñado, ellas saben explicar bien todo lo que hemos aprendido.

Yo trabajé mucho tiempo para control natal y no conocía algunos de estos métodos que aquí los he aprendido.

Estoy muy agradecida con los instructores y con Mano a Mano por darnos todo lo que hemos aprendido.

Muchísimas gracias.

How has this training impacted my life or work?

My name is Carmen Luna Paiz. I would like to share about all the good things we have learned in these classes. These classes have impacted me, have been well explained, and I am happy to learn more so we can help all other people that — like me — don’t know everything the instructors have taught us.

I worked a long time teaching birth control and did not know some of these methods we have learned here.

I am very grateful to the instructors and Mano a Mano for giving us everything we have learned. Many thanks.

Josefina Jaimes

¿Cómo este entrenamiento ha impactado mi vida o trabajo?

Mi nombre es Josefina Jaimes Promotora de Salud de Mano a Mano. Ha sido una gran experiencia haber tomado el entrenamiento de cuidado prenatal. En lo personal he aprendido muchas cosas, las clases han sido excelentes muy completas y dinámicas.

Me siento muy satisfecha y con mucho entusiasmo de poder compartir a mi comunidad todo lo aprendido. La manera que el entrenamiento impacto mi vida personal es el poder que me da para educar, primero como madre a mi familia y después como promotora de salud de mi comunidad.

Durante el entrenamiento me di cuenta que cometí varios errores por falta de información, ahora podre educar acerca de cuidado prenatal de una manera más correcta.

Por ultimo quiero dar las gracias a las maestras por todo, son excelentes entrenadoras y personas.

How this training impacted my life or work?

My name is Josefina Jaimes, a Health Promoter from Mano a Mano. It has been a great experience taking the prenatal care training. Personally, I learned many things. Classes have been excellent, very comprehensive and dynamic.

I am very pleased and enthusiastic to share with my community everything I learned. The way the training impacted my personal life is the power it gives me to educate, first as a mother to my family and then as a health promoter in my community.

During training, I realized that I made several mistakes due to lack of information. I can now educate about prenatal care in a more proper way.

Finally, I want to thank all the teachers, who are excellent trainers and people.

Shared Voices for Equity in Birth and Breastfeeding


Summit 2015 BabiesLast month, HealthConnect One hosted a National Action Summit to explore birth equity – and many other topics. We asked participants what stood out to them about this gathering:

“The real commitment to reflecting on and improving community based models of care was so refreshing and inspiring,” said Kayla Harvey Nasca. “How comfortable the group was,” offered another participant. “The women clearly felt comfortable sharing and being together. There was a palpable trust in the room that bought warmth to the learning.”

Summit-015We also asked about the experience of peer-to-peer learning, which is the core of every meeting, every training, and everything we do.

Kayla shared:

I learned a lot of ways that Bold City Doula Coalition can enhance and improve our community-based doula program. I gained insight as to what my peers and colleagues are dealing with their work and how I can better support them. I learned techniques to improve my own leadership skills in order to help my organization be more successful.

I think peer-to-peer learning is much more valuable than theoretical knowledge so this summit was an amazing educational opportunity for me and my organization.

Another participant told us:

I learned that community health workers heal themselves as they help women avoid what many of them experienced. I realized that the work is sacred not only because of what it does in the community, but because of the bonds that are built and the healing that happens within the women that do the work. I learned that it is the healing and the deep sisterhood in the work that propels women to push beyond the difficulties of the position.

It was the best learning because traditional power dynamics that are associated with learning are not present and/or openly discussed. There was an ability to be open and build trust and exchange not just words: histories, hopes, frustrations, and, positive energy.

It was a blessing to be in the space.

This is what happens when you hold space, raise questions, and wait. This. Right here.