The June 8 event features expert panelists as well as activity sessions

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Pregnant and postpartum individuals as well as medical professionals, students and trainees, are invited to attend “Doulas Decoded” on Saturday, June 8, at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

Free and open to the public, the event is designed to educate people about how doulas can improve the birthing experience. Doulas are trained, nonmedical professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to pregnant and postpartum individuals.

When and where: Registration and refreshments begin at 10 a.m. Sessions go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 8 at the Jacobs School, 955 Main St., Buffalo. Lunch is included.

Register online.

Who: Panelists include:

  • Heather Riester, a certified nurse midwife who sees patients at Trinity Medical and attends births at Sisters of Charity Hospital.
  • Thaddeus Waters, MD, the Amol S. Lele, MD, Clinical Professor and chief of maternal-fetal medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Jacobs School.
  • Natalia Caraballo, a midwife licensed to practice the full scope of midwifery in New York State.
  • Shannon Johns, owner and founder of Calming Nature Doula Service and Center, doula program director for Sisters Hospital and executive director for Breastfeeding Sisters, an African-American breastfeeding support program.

“Our hope is that everyone who attends will gain a better understanding of the role, benefits and scope of practice of a doula, the factors contributing to maternal health disparities and what they can do to help those disparities and improve poor birth outcomes,” Johns explains.

Johns and her partner, Njeri Motley, will discuss the role and scope of practice of a doula before, during and after the birth of a child.

Other topics to be discussed include birth and postpartum planning, childbirth education, and breastfeeding and lactation.

During the panel discussion on enhancing collaboration and building community partnerships to improve maternal health, Waters will discuss New York State data on maternal health outcomes, specifically for Black women.

Sponsors include the Buffalo Center for Health Equity, Catholic Health, Highmark, the Jacobs School and Calming Nature Doula Service and Center.