Dauline Singletary is a Public Health Educator with Wake County Human Services. She’s also a child birth educator and doula (a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born). Dauline is a daughter, aunt and friend, but she describes herself as a simple country girl who loves the outdoors and who’s very outgoing.
Dauline works in the Wake County Human Services Maternal and Child Health Division, where she’s over the Cribs for Kids and the Car Seat Programs. She started the Crib for Kids, a national program adopted by Wake County Human Services, from the ground up. The program provides education on infant safe sleep and provides cribs at reduce cost to moms who can’t afford them. So far, the program is going well. The Car Seat program provides education on childhood injury prevention, car seat education and provides car seats at a reduced cost.
“Many people don’t know what a public health educator is or what we do, so they think it’s a pointless job. But, we do a lot to help the community.”
Dauline graduated from North Carolina Central University in 2015. She originally pursued a degree in nursing but, after taking her first chemistry class, decided it wasn’t for her. While contemplating her next move, Singletary went to a school counselor, who gave her a brochure on public and community health. The school invited an Epidemiologist to speak to the class and it sparked her interest, but she was still iffy about pursuing public health.
“At first, I didn’t know what it was about, and I kept asking myself what is public health. I went home and prayed. I was like, Lord, Mom sent me to college so I have to make her proud.”
Dauline attended several public health community events and really enjoyed what she saw and decided to give it a try.
“I liked being a resource person and if I didn’t have the answers, I could help find someone who did or point the person in the right direction. I loved that it wasn’t like nursing, where I had to remember all those body parts and medicines but I could still help the community.”
Dauline also expressed how going to HBCU prepared her for working in public health and the real world.
“Coming from a small town, I wasn’t really exposed to certain things. Even though I just went to Durham, it exposed me to people from all across the country and various backgrounds. Also, just going to a HBCU exposes you to different classes you wouldn’t take in other schools. A lot of my professors pretty much gave us ‘Real Talk.” They told us it’s always going to be that one person that may get the job before you because of the color of their skin, even though you may have the experience, but you still go out and do your best. I haven’t experienced racism in my job but I do know it exists.”
Singletary’s interest in maternal health began in her sophomore year in college. She joined a organization called the Cradle Me 3 Project. The Cradle Me 3 Project is a student lead organization that focuses on preconception, pregnancy and parenting. She went on to become trained as a Preconception Peer Educator.
She later joined a program called Granville Vance Community Doula Program. Through her years as a Public Health Educator and Doula, Dauline has learned a lot of people are undereducated on maternal and sexual health.
“Just from talking to my friends and doing child birth classes, many women don’t know their bodies or the proper name for body parts and how they work. Also, being in the South, there’s a lot of stigmatism around sexual health, and no one wants to talk about it. But, it really should be taught in schools starting at a young age. Kids need to know their body parts, how they work, and the proper names. I would love to see more classes where boys and girls are educated on each other’s body and how they work.”
“When I was younger, my mom didn’t talk to me about sex. She just told me don’t have it, and it was a sin. In the black community, most of our parents don’t talk to us about sex, we learn from our friends, movies, music, or online. Then when the teenage girl gets pregnant, the parents get mad, but you can’t get mad when you never properly educated the child. I understand being disappointed but not mad, because you never provided the proper information or avenue to get information.”
When asked about being a doula, Dauline’s eyes lit up. You could see the passion she has for it and the love she has for her clients.
Being a doula brings me joy. When I say, I love it; I mean it gives me a high. I get excited when my client calls and says they’re on their way to the hospital. You build a relationship with the mom from the time she asks you to be her doula, until the birth of the baby. She trusts you and she knows you care and have her best interest in mind. Especially first time moms, who are nervous, scared and need extra support. Someone to tell them it’s going to be ok, your body is made for this and you’re going to be ok.”
“When I did my first birth, which was my cousin, I felt like I didn’t do anything and I was useless. Afterwards, she was so appreciative and thankful for my help and it made me feel so good and appreciated. Being a Doula makes me very happy. One day, I may become a Midwife.”
Dauline has heard some negative stereotyping statements about Doulas.
“I hear from women of color all the time, having a doula is a white woman’s thang, and it’s really sad. Back in the day we were the Doulas and Midwives. We didn’t get to go to doctors to have our babies, so it should be a natural thing for us.”
“As a Doula, I even have nurses turn up their noses when I try to give suggestions to clients about natural child birth and alternatives to epidurals. I won’t stop a woman if that’s what she wants, but I do educate her on other options available. We’ve put so much fear into the pain of birth and shame of sex; we forget how beautiful it is. Now we’re trying to get women back to the natural way of giving birth and nourishing our kids. We’ve sexualized the women’s body so much that we’ve forgotten the beautiful part of providing for our child.”
When asked about what programs she would like to see come to Franklinton, Dauline said she would like to see a women’s group.
“I would like to see a women’s group. A women’s group that empowers, uplifts and teaches women about their self-worth. I have that with my friends, but I would love to see a community group. A group that makes you feel safe, with people you can trust, share experiences, and get and give advice without judgement. I wasn’t raised to look down on or criticize people and I don’t like when I see other women do it. We need to be more supportive and it will make it better for the next generation of women. They will see empowering and uplifting women is the normal, not fighting and criticizing.”
Being a doula, child care and public health educator can be stressful and everyone needs something or someone to help ground them. I asked Dauline how she stays grounded working in a stressful environment.
“Hmmm.. I keep myself grounded. Some time ago, stuff would get on my nerves and I would react and people would call me mean. It made me start checking myself. I’ve learned to stay away from drama and people who cause drama. As I’ve grown and matured, it has helped me a lot. My mom keeps me grounded in a way, because she helps me with certain things in life. I’m not a religious person, but I do believe in God, and prayer has helped a lot.”
As for future goals, Dauline wants to start a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.
“I already created the program I just I need funding. I love working with adolescents and it’s always been my passion. I plan to continue to raise awareness about pregnancy prevention, maternal health, and spiritual health and inspire people.”