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Some Somali-speaking doulas are still making house visits. Here’s why.

Dr. Muna Osman, left, and Ayan Abdulahi, C.D.
Dr. Muna Osman, left, helped Mama Amaan identify gaps in healthcare for Somali mothers. Ayan Abdulahi, C.D., is one of the doulas currently making house calls.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, pregnant Somali women had a special need for care. Whether in Somalia or in the diaspora, Somali women are a high-risk subpopulation for maternal health.

During pregnancy, they have higher than average rates of hypertension and gestational diabetes. During delivery, they are more likely to experience fetal distress and require emergency cesarean sections. Their newborns often struggle to adjust in the hours after birth. And post-partum mental health is a concern, too; many experienced trauma during the Somali civil war.

And yet there was a gap between their health care needs and what the local health system provided for them. An organization called Mama Amaan was created to help survey that gap, and then close it. 

Now that the COVID-19 crisis has hit, mothers in the Somali community need even more access to information and support. In this story, learn how Mama Amaan has altered their strategy to adjust to the moment — and why Somali-speaking doulas are still making house calls.

Posey Gruener is a former KNKX producer who worked on All Things Considered and Sound Effect.