I was at the board executive committee meeting today and we were discussing how we describe Open Arms. We do a lot in unique ways – sometimes it’s hard to describe.
Many of the terms we use have specific meanings in the nonprofit community. We do home visits, we are community-based, and we provide doulas for the perinatal period (before, during and after birth). It’s the combination of these things that provides the magic of what Open Arms is. But each of the terms is limited – and our mission spans all of them.
We do home visits – but most home visitation services don’t attend births, so we are unique in that way. We attend births, but we do a lot of our work before and after the birth through our home visits and the scope is broader than what traditional, private-pay doula services provide. And, our community-based work ensures that the services we provide are culturally-relevant and anchor the family in the larger community that will continue support for years to come – something generally not done by either home visitation services or doula work.
And what comes out of this unique combination? We have a wide range of impacts – supported family, fewer interventions during birth, shorter hospital stays, increased breastfeeding, parent education, community support, increased support for early learning, lower postpartum depression, increased bonding….
We hope that the impact of support services at a pivotal time will last for many years. One of the things we discussed today is that our outcomes follow studies done nationally – we know that – for example, our breastfeeding rate is well over 90% and our c-section rate is more than half of the general Seattle population. But we need to apply statistical analysis to our data so that we will be able to say for sure what our outcomes are. We hope to get this kind of analysis underway this year. We also hope to follow our clients over the past 11 years (which can be hard with a mobile population) and find out what the long-term impact really is. We think we know, but we want to quantify it.
We’ll keep you updated as this progresses.