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Bridging the Gaps in Research and Resources for Postpartum Care for Birthing People

Josiane Tsobgny headshot

May 4, 2023

Josiane Tsobgny is an MPH student majoring in Epidemiology. Growing up in Cameroon, Josiane saw firsthand the impact of inadequate healthcare infrastructure on vulnerable populations, especially mothers and children. This experience, along with a global maternal and child heath course during her first year at Dornsife, sparked Josiane’s interest in global health and maternal and child health (MCH).

As an Epidemiology major in Dornsife’s MPH program, Josiane actively sought out MCH-related experiences through both her coursework and research. She completed a perinatal epidemiology course last fall and her Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) is focused on children with autism. These experiences have further solidified her passion for working with children and making a positive impact on their health outcomes.

Earlier this year Josiane received a mini grant from the Drexel Maternal and Child Health Program to support her MCH workforce development project with the Newborns and Neighbors program. The Newborns and Neighbors program is a community-driven participatory research pilot embedded in a partnership between the Philadelphia Maternal and Infant Health Community Action Network (CAN) and the Dornsife School of Public Health.

"My experience with Newborns and Neighbors was invaluable in shaping my career aspirations. It opened my eyes to the gaps in research and resources for postpartum care for birthing people, and further fueled my interest in working in a perinatal health environment with infants." - Josiane Tsobgny

Newborns and Neighbors, which originated from CAN’s Holistic Mental Health Workgroup, trains perinatal peer support workers to provide practical and emotional support to Black and Latinx mothers and birthing people during their first six weeks postpartum. The pilot itself, as well as all program and research activities (e.g., training and research protocols, etc.) were developed by mothers and birthing people with lived experience, who are core members of the pilot team.

The MCH Program spoke with Josiane to learn more about her MCH workforce development project. 

What did you do on the project? What products did you produce?

For the pilot I conducted a literature review of peer reviewed and grey literature on how peer support works. I believe peer support work is not done enough in the US. I wanted to research what has been done as well as understand the successes and failures to help create a better program.

I developed a resource guide for peer support workers. The resource guide contained infographics to pass on to the workers, toolkits, and trainings that could be completed monthly or biannually.

I also developed a screening assessment for participants. This screening assessment could be used by the participants as a guide or reference for them to better understand what they are experiencing. These resources will be available on a Newborns and Neighbors website in the future.

What did you learn from the experience?

My experience with Newborns and Neighbors was invaluable in shaping my career aspirations. It opened my eyes to the gaps in research and resources for postpartum care for birthing people, and further fueled my interest in working in a perinatal health environment with infants.

Seeing firsthand the challenges that new parents face in providing adequate care for their newborns made me realize the importance of improving postpartum care and support systems.

Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to the elimination of the issues faced by birthing people in the perinatal period and improve the health outcomes of both parents and infants.

How did the experience augment your training experience at Dornsife?

It was a great feeling to see firsthand how classroom theory and skills could be put into practice. Participating in various meetings and conducting a literature review during my time with Newborns and Neighbors has significantly enhanced my communication skills and confidence.

Through attending the Newborns and Neighbors meetings, l received more information about the public health initiatives in the Philadelphia area. It was inspiring to see the people on the ground doing this work and making a real difference in the community. It reinforced the concept that it’s so much more than statistics.

In addition, conducting a literature review has allowed me to develop and refine my research skills, particularly in searching for information on various topics. These skills will undoubtedly prove valuable in my future endeavors in the public health field.

Did it impact your future career goals?

Public health is a big field so as students we might not know how we fit into our area of interest. This applied practical experience was impactful in bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application and it has helped me with being further prepared to make a positive impact in the public health field.

What advice would you give to current MCH students?

Reach out to people such as professors and faculty because there are opportunities to grow and learn in various areas.

Don’t be shy or worry that you won’t fit in. You will fit in and there is a place and area for you.

Learn more about Dornsife's MCH program and upcoming MCH events.

Dornsife's Maternal and Child Health Program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit