Co-Founders/Co-Directors

Dalia Abrams, M.A., M.P.H. 

Executive Director of Program Operations

  • DONA Approved Birth Doula Trainer

  • DONA Certified Birth Doula 

  • Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator

  • Certified Lactation Specialist

Dalia is a DONA certified birth doula, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Lactation Counselor, and DONA Approved birth doula trainer. She has a Master's degree in Public Health from UAB's School of Public Health with a focus on Maternal and Child Health. She is also a wife and the mother of four amazing grown children. Dalia devotes her time to improving birth because she believes that an empowering birth experience powerfully and positively impacts the goals birth-givers and parents set for themselves, ultimately making the world a better place for us all.

Contact me: Dalia Abrams

205-410-0479

"I love doing birth work because the journey of pregnancy, labor, birth and parenting has the power to TRANSFORM families, birth-givers, and the world we live in!!!"

                                                                                                                                               -Dalia Abrams Why I Doula This (Dalia's Story)

Susan Petrus, M.A.

Executive Director of Business Operations

  • DONA Certified Birth Doula 

  • Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator

Susan has a Masters in English from Auburn University and a Welding Diploma from Bessemer State Technical College. She is a DONA certified birth doula and a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. She is the mother of two children and devotes her time to improving the health of each person who gives birth and works to ensure the best start for every infant. 

Contact me: Susan Petrus

205-222-0343

Our Story:

Dalia and Susan met in the summer of 2005 when Susan, pregnant with her second child, took a childbirth class with Dalia. The two reconnected in early, 2007 as they were walking the halls of the Alabama State House, advocating for passage of a bill to license Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). As they worked together planning educational events for the Alabama Birth Coalition, they decided to create a support group for consumers seeking information about their birth options. These monthly "Birth Stories and More" meetings at the local YWCA created a space where people could ask questions about birth, hear other's birth stories, and most importantly meet other people who believed birth was an experience to prepare for, celebrate, and even enjoy.  

At that time, Dalia was working at an Early Head Start (EHS) program, a position she took after completing a Master's degree in Public Health, in Maternal and Child Health. At EHS, she served under-resourced parents who were expecting a baby, or who had children birth to age three. It was here that she came face to face with the people behind the poor maternal and fetal health outcomes she had studied. Many of these families didn't know they had choices about how and with whom they gave birth, and didn't have access to so-called luxury services, like doulas and out-of-hospital childbirth classes.

Dalia & Susan at the Earthy Birthy Expo in 2017

By the fall of 2010, Dalia and Susan agreed that it was time to start a program that would support families giving birth in Birmingham hospitals, regardless of method of birth, and regardless of ability to pay. Starting a doula program seemed like the ideal way to provide one-on-one support that was both cost-effective and impactful. After researching existing community doula programs, they felt most inspired by Patty Brennan's community doula program in Michigan, Doulas Care. In this model, Patty's organization trained doulas and then matched the newly trained doulas with families that couldn't afford to hire a doula. It was a win-win strategy that could be replicated with very little start-up funds. 

BirthWell Partners Community Doula Project was incorporated in May of 2011 with a vision of eliminating barriers to having a doula, and also to becoming one. At that time in Birmingham, there were only a handful of doulas, all but one of whom were upper-middle-class White women. To increase the number and diversity of doulas, they created a need-based work-study option for trainees whereby they committed to attending births with BirthWell clients (work) in return for doula training, mentoring, and support throughout their doula certification process (study). That summer, BirthWell Partners held its first birth doula workshop for 13 individuals; 5 were low SES people through the work-study program; five were people of color. By the end of the first year year, BirthWell Partners doulas had attended a total of 24 births. (For all outcomes visit our Program Outcomes page.) 

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