24
January
2024
|
11:12 AM
America/Chicago

Helping Babies Have A Good Start: Meet Our Doula

Summary

Chrystal Bryant, RN, Maternal Health Case Manager for Cook Children’s Health Plan, became a certified doula in November 2023.

Chrystal Bryant Doula 1

By Kaley Johnson

When Chrystal Bryant, RN, first became a labor and delivery nurse, she often wondered what happened to the parents and babies after they left the hospital. She wondered if the mothers were getting the support they needed, if the babies were healthy and if the family had access to needed resources.

Chrystal, who has been at Cook Children’s since 2017, knows from experience the importance of proper support before and after delivering a baby. She had her daughter at age 21, and as an ovarian cancer survivor, Chrystal had a high risk pregnancy. In her current role as Maternal Health Case Manager for Cook Children’s Health Plan, she is able to assess patients and their needs and get them the care and resources they need for a healthy pregnancy.

But she still wanted to do more.

Tarrant County has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Texas, according to Tarrant County Public Health data, and the second highest maternal mortality rate among Black women. In 2022, United Way of Tarrant County announced the launch of the Maternal Health Initiative, a community-based doula program to reduce maternal mortality rates, especially among women of color and low-income women. Cook Children’s partnered with United Way to create the doula certification program. Chrystal signed up for the program and, in November, she received her doula certification.

Doulas work with pregnant women one-on-one before, during and after delivery. They provide education, create a birthing plan and plan a recovery period. One of the most important aspects of doula care is following up with parents after the birth. Postpartum health issues can be fatal, but education around those risks is not always available.

“My primary goal is just to do what I can to assist families throughout the perinatal period and in the postpartum period, just to make sure that babies have a good start to life and the pregnant woman has the resources that she needs to have a safe and healthy pregnancy,” Chrystal said.

As a doula and a case manager at Cook Children’s, Chrystal serves as a liaison for parents and connects them with resources they might not know about. This assistance can be crucial during a pregnancy, especially for underserved communities and low-income parents. For some, Chrystal said, sometimes simply finding a ride to appointments can be a barrier to proper maternal care.

Through her role at Cook Children’s, and now as a certified doula, Chrystal is able to truly change lives. 

Chrystal said by far the best part of her job at Cook Children’s is when Health Plan members come back and tell her how much having her as a case manager helped them through their pregnancy journey. She hopes families continue to receive more community support in the future, especially in areas that have limited access to health care, education, and even reliable food sources. More early childhood education, outdoor spaces and reliable transportation are needed in places like 76104, a Tarrant County zip code that a 2019 study by UT Southwestern Medical Center found has the lowest life expectancy in Texas.

“That's part of why I did the doula certification,” she said, “because I could do my part in this space as far as rallying around the women who need my support during that period of time.”  

Kathy Schwab, Director of STAR/CHIP Service Coordination and Population Health, since 2021, said she is proud of Chrystal’s certification, especially since Chrystal pursued the program on her own. She said the doula program aligns with Cook Children’s new initiative to “have an eye for community health, not just children’s health.”

“And although child's health is part of what they do, we're looking at maternal health and parents’ health. And so this focus really gives us an added layer,” Kathy said.

Comments 1 - 9 (9)
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JoAudrey Miller
27
January
2024
Chrystal, Auntie is so proud of you, your accomplishments and your always drive and concern about the health of pregnant women and children. Being a Doula is something I’d once thought of doing. Well, I’m glad you pursued it and completed your certification!
Prayers for your continued success!💜🙏🏽
Kandace Thomas-Lewis
26
January
2024
What an amazing accomplishment!! Way to go Doula Chrystal!! Congrats!!
Crystal O'Reilly
26
January
2024
I am so incredibly proud of all of your accomplishments, Chrystal. You truly make a difference in our community and in the lives of vulnerable women who often have nowhere else to turn. Congratulations, 1000 times and again.
Kendra Banks
26
January
2024
Way to go Chrystal. Out her changing lives!!!💚🩷
Derelle Walker
26
January
2024
Congratulations,my friend. I'm so happy you're walking in your gift and passion. Those members and blessed to have you.
Cheryle Hayes, RN
25
January
2024
Congratulations to my daughter Chrystal 👏🏽
We are so very proud of you and your accomplishments! Your tenacity and empathy will continue to lead you to find ways to care for and serve others.
Andrea Vox-afful
25
January
2024
This is so awesome!! So proud of you Chrystal!!
Kathy Tarpley, BSN, RN, MBA
25
January
2024
Very interesting article and many congratulations to you, Chrystal, for this wonderful accomplishment!
Katrina Morgan
25
January
2024
Congratulations Chrystal! Your commitment to women throughout the perinatal and motherhood journeys is inspiring! You're a rock start!