On Friday, June 1st, 2018 at 10:00am ET, Mama Glow Founder Latham Thomas gathered 16 women from all walks of life, all united by their passion for birth work, in a rosy Brooklyn brownstone basement for an immersive weekend. This 3-day gathering marked the launch of the Mama Glow Doula Immersion Program. Within 9 months, Mama Glow would establish training hubs beyond New York City to include: Los Angeles, Miami, and Paris, initiating new doulas worldwide working to change the maternal health landscape for the better. Five years later Mama Glow has touched the lives of over 2,500 doulas in the USA and across 6 continents with their professional doula training program.
Today marks five years since the establishment of The Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program—a globally recognized training program that has since trained thousands of birth workers and reached hundreds of thousands of families and advocates through education and advocacy. This milestone is a marker of the program’s sustainability—a reality that will assist Mama Glow in reaching their ultimate goal of improving the lives of birthing people everywhere and empowering the next generation of birth workers. In addition to sustainability, the reach of the program enhances its radical potential. Since its inception, the Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program has trained thousands of birth workers, both across the country and around the world and awarded over 300 scholarships to aspiring doulas in need of financial assistance to attend the training program.
The program is a testament to the necessity of the principles of birth work within any and all roles. To date, the Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program has trained novice birth workers, experienced doulas looking for robust holistic training, bodyworkers, social workers, teachers and educators, energy workers and healers, nurses, midwives, OB/Gyns, activists, actors, supermodels, policy makers, MPH Candidates, moms-to-be, new parents, and more. The program draws upon its intergenerational community with doulas coming to the program at as young a 17-years of age and as wise as 76. Many of the program’s graduates work as full time solo-preneur doulas, have secured positions within hospital systems and community-based agencies, and many work within doula collectives. Mama Glow is proud of the contributions they have made in professional development, ensuring ongoing support to their doulas including job opportunities with Mama Glow clients and partnering organizations. For example, the training program is a pipeline for the Citywide Doula Initiative, which is a program led by the DOHMH and the Fund for Public Health, where the Mama Glow Foundation is the largest provider of pro bono doula services in New York City, servicing vulnerable populations across 33 zip codes.
Mama Glow’s Professional Doula Training Program is one of many tools accessible in the broader fight to change the face of maternal health in the USA and abroad. Pregnancy and childbirth are sacred processes and a major threshold of change in a birthing person’s life. The program aims to empower birthing people and those who provide their care by illuminating this sanctity and the innate strength of the birthing body. Through the doula training program, Mama Glow offers full spectrum doula training, which enables people to support clients during fertility, childbirth, and the transition into parenthood, and through any experience of pregnancy or infant loss.
Pregnancy and childbirth are embodied processes. For this reason, a major part of the training is teaching future birth workers to lean into their bodies as a tool for healing. Contemplative practice is embedded into the training program and it’s designed to be a soft space for the doula trainees. Mama Glow Doula explained: “I healed many parts of myself I didn’t know needed mending. I’m still learning to give myself space, but I am much happier with my life compared to before becoming a doula.”
At the core of Mama Glow’s mission and training is birth activism. Within the programming are threads of advocacy, with world-renowned and award-winning guest speakers speaking to their efforts on the frontlines of the fight against maternal mortality and morbidity.
The fifth year anniversary is only one among many of the doula training program’s major milestones. Since its establishment, the Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program has seen many changes. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Mama Glow shifted to a virtual format to keep their valuable training accessible to people looking to spark change within the maternal health landscape. The Mama Glow Doula Homeschool Program brought the education, ingenuity, ritual and community feeling from the Mama Glow Doula Immersion training weekends into an online setting that allowed for over a hundred students to join in every class. This exponential growth catapulted Mama Glow as the market leader in birth worker education. We now know that this training was available during a time that spoke to its significance. Various studies show dramatic increases in maternal mortality and morbidity between 2020-2021, with heightened severity among racial and ethnic minorities in rural areas and small cities. The doula training program equips birthing people, families, and communities overall, with the tools to protect birthing people during a time of great vulnerability, and within settings that are not always conducive to safety.
Another major milestone came at the start of this year. The Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program was implemented on an institutional level at Brown University. Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas was appointed as Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University’s Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, where she teaches and mentors students from a wide range of educational backgrounds—pre-med, biology, and other science related majors; graduate and public health students; and students majoring in the social sciences, such as medical anthropology and bioethics. The Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program is the first of its kind to be incorporated as part of a course at an Ivy League Institution. The historic nature of her appointment along with the course at Brown is a testament to the quality of content, the success of the program in the public marketplace and the future of birth work.
On the fifth anniversary since the launch of the program, we simultaneously honor the success of Mama Glow’s Professional Doula Training Program and the fact that there is still much to be done in the sector to improve birth outcomes. In the meantime, the Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program will continue to stand as a major cornerstone in their fight for the collective safety and liberation of birthing people everywhere.
Learn more about Mama Glow Professional Doula Training Program.