A Guide to Mental Health Resources in Rhode Island

A guide to managing stress, finding care and supporting ourselves and our children through continuously challenging times.


Finding Care | Managing Stress and Relationships | Maternal Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health

The mental health of expecting and new mothers should always be considered before, during and after childbirth. Here are some resources to help in the search for a doula and postpartum care. By Edelinda Baptista

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Mama’s Favorite Helper

Doulas provide guidance and support to expecting mothers throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery as well as during the first few weeks of a newborn baby’s life. 


Doula Emerald Ortiz runs Sacred Wombanhood Birth Support Services. Courtesy of Emerald Ortiz, Photograph by Samantha Garlington of Miranda Photo and Co.

Emerald Ortiz was eighteen years old when she first supported a friend through delivery. Alongside another trusted friend, the two provided emotional support to the nervous first-time mother through a difficult birth. It was an intense experience for Ortiz, as the mother ended up needing a cesarean section. The memory inspired Ortiz to learn about midwifery through books and research, which eventually led to her becoming a trained doula about twenty years later. Now, as owner and operator of Sacred Wombanhood Birth Support Services since 2018, supporting families as a doula is second nature.

“We start off with childbirth education so they understand the process of birth and what to expect, then we talk about the postpartum period and ways to prepare for that,” says Ortiz. “That could look like getting help around the house, newborn care support and helping initiate and maintain successful breastfeeding.”

In ancient Greek, the term doula means “a woman who serves.” In modern times, a doula is a person who provides physical and emotional support for new and expanding families, someone dedicated to educating and going above and beyond to ensure the newborn’s arrival is a healthy one. That could be one of three types of doulas: a full-spectrum doula who supports the family during any point of the pregnancy including birth, infant loss or miscarriage; birth doulas who are only present for the birth; and postpartum doulas who provide care and resources for parents and newborns.

Access to this professional support provides a comfortable path into parenthood and improves birthing and postpartum recovery while reducing maternal morbidity and mortality risks, especially in women of color. In 2020, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is 2.9 times the rate for non-Hispanic white women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. A study published in the Lancet found that women who received doula care had 52 percent lower odds of cesarean delivery and 57 percent lower odds of postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety. Women who received doula care during labor and birth, but not necessarily during pregnancy, also showed a 64 percent reduction in odds of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

A law that requires private insurers and Medicaid to pay for doula services took effect last July, making accessibility to care more affordable for expecting parents throughout Rhode Island. The RI Birthworker Cooperative is an alliance of doulas in the state that shares the administrative load of billing and contracting.

Accessing doula services shouldn’t be another financial hurdle for families on top of the birth. “A lot of the time people come into it hearing all these stories about birth being scary … it doesn’t always have to be; it’s a lot about mental preparation and staying focused through the pain,” says Ortiz. “The most important piece in choosing a doula is her personality and if her philosophy of birth is in alignment with yours. Skills matter, but aligning with goals and beliefs for your birth and postpartum period is the most important.”

Working within a home, birthing center and/or hospital, doulas educate — and empower — parents so that they have peace of mind when a newborn is brought into the world. They’re an extension of the birth team, acting as dedicated advocates who allow the caregiver to choose what they believe is best for their child.

“This is your birth, your child, I’m just here as background support,” says Ortiz. sacredwombanhood.com


Dedicated Doulas 

Our Journ3i supports culturally diverse maternal and perinatal workforce development, training and mentorship.


Quatia Osorio has been a doula since 2015. Photograph by Brittanny Taylor.

Providence-based doula Quatia Osorio has been working toward evolving maternal health locally as a doula, business owner, policy advocate, doula trainer and aspiring midwife since 2015. She’s the founder of Our Journ3i, a maternal wellness organization offering culturally diverse perinatal workforce development, training, mentorship and professional development.

As a certified community health worker, lactation counselor, perinatal educator and maternal child health specialist, Osorio comes from an ancestral line of midwives. She’s also affiliated with the Urban Perinatal Education Center and gained a second degree in health services management. 

“Advocacy and justice are fundamental pillars to human kindness and compassion. We are meeting people at their most vulnerable times in life and cheering them on until the finish line,” says Osorio, who treats her clients the way she would want to be cared for during her own birthing experience. “As a doula, I’m showing up to be the support of someone who is doing something phenomenal. People who birth people are just amazing.”

Community-based doulas produce the results they do since they’re not integrated into the health care and medical systems, and not considered hospital employees, she says. 

“They’re able to remain autonomous in care for the individual and family,” Osorio says. “Over ninety percent of the community-based doula work is in the home of the client or through 24/7 accessibility via phone or email. Doulas meet the families where they are — physically, emotionally, culturally and spiritually.” journ3i.com 


Doula Resources

If you’re thinking about including a doula in your birthing journey, or interested in becoming a doula yourself, these resources can guide you in the right direction. Doula advocate Osorio recommends families check in with each doula to confirm they are in-network with insurance plans.

RI Birthworker Cooperative 

This cooperative founded by local doulas Osorio, Susie Finnerty and Elyse Wilkie implements insurance reimbursement for families in need of doula care. The website contains a growing list of doulas who accept insurance. ribirthworkercoop.com

Doulas of Rhode Island 

This doula database has a mission to support and educate expecting families in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut with local birth and postpartum doulas. doulasri.org

Birthing Advocate Doula Trainings 

Black- and queer-owned, Birthing Advocate Doula Trainings teaches aspiring doulas with workshops and courses to prepare trainees to serve and care for clients throughout the duration of their pregnancy while being action-oriented, socially conscious and culturally appropriate. “One of the biggest issues is the lack of BIPOC doulas that offer representation, cultural and linguistic skills,” says Osorio. “When we look at Rhode Island data, we know we need more doulas of color in our communities.” badoulatrainings.org 

Open Circle RI 

As a holistic education and wellness center for expanding families, Open Circle RI offers doula care, in-person and online childbirth and parenting education workshops, parenting and infant development classes, infant massage, pregnancy yoga and bodywork. opencircleri.com


Doula Art Copy

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Women & Infants Behavioral Health Services

Where new mothers can get a postpartum health check. 

Every woman adjusts to motherhood differently. The behavioral health services at Women & Infants Hospital prioritize emotional health just as much as physical health. The staff of board-certified psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and clinical nurse specialists remind new mothers that they’re not alone in their struggle. Programs to treat conditions throughout pregnancy and after birth include the Day Hospital, inpatient and outpatient services, the Moms Matter clinic, substance abuse services and other resources. Women & Infants Hospital Center for Women’s Behavioral Health, 2 Dudley St., first floor, Providence, 453-7955; Moms Matter Clinic, 100 Dudley St., third floor, Providence,


Get Help Now

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide, call the 24/7 statewide BH Link hotline at 988. Or you can use the Crisis Text Line to connect with a crisis coordinator within twenty-five seconds on average. Text HELLO to 988 and communicate until you feel safe. BH Link’s behavioral health facility at 975 Waterman Ave. in East Providence is also open 24/7. bhlink.org

Hotline Help

Someone who cares is just a call away.

National Suicide & Crisis Hotline: Call 988

ANAD Eating Disorder Helpline: 1-888-375-7767

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

Latino Mental Health Network: mhnri.wixsite.com/latinomhnetworkri

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-6264

National Eating Disorder Association Hotline: Text or call 1-800-931-2237. Online chatting available.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Teen Hotline: Call 1-800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839863

Trans Hotline: 1-877-565-8860

Trevor Project: Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678

Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and press 1 or text 838255