Reports highlight community-based doulas’ role vs. maternal health crisis

One new report out of Washington, D.C. highlights that racism is the driving force of disparities in maternal mortality and doulas and midwives are key to the solution. Another from a Native women-led organization in New Mexico analyzes the living-wage pay scale of, and recommends a greater role for, community-based doulas. 

Taken together, both reports highlight the growing energy and consensus — one that can only be amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic — for greater use of community-based doulas, lactation counselors and other community health workers. 

Here are more details on the two new documents:

Expanding Access to Doula Care: Birth Equity and Economic Justice in New Mexico 

Report here

This March 2020 report is from the Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project, the Indigenous Women’s Health & Reproductive Justice Program of Tewa Women United. (It should be noted the leaders of this project are also part of HealthConnect One’s Birth Equity Leadership Academy). Recommendations from the report include:

  1. State and Federal Legislation for Medicaid Reimbursement
  2. Managed Care Organization (MCO)-Led Reimbursement
  3. Expanding Access to Doula Training

“As a multicultural, multiracial organization founded and led by Native women in Northern New Mexico, we offer our perspective on Medicaid reimbursement for doula care as well as other opportunities to improve access across our state,” according to the organization. 

“Community-Based Doulas and Midwives: Key to Addressing the U.S. Maternal Health Crisis”

 

Video

Report here 

News release here

At the heart of the April 2020 Center for American Progress report are Interviews with midwives and doulas from across the field of birth equity including HealthConnect One interim executive director Jeretha McKinley. The interviews were conducted in February and March 2020 via phone, email, video conference, and in person. 

Recommendations from the report include: 

  • Fund existing community-based organizations providing doula and/or midwifery care.
  • Expand access to training and education to support growing a diverse maternity care workforce.
  • Improve integration in and support for doulas and midwives from the medical system.
  • Establish clear guidelines for government regulation of practice.
  • Provide access and the autonomy to choose a range of birth options.

“While the world grapples with a global health pandemic and hospitals across the country are being stretched to capacity, the role community-based doulas and midwives play in bridging health disparities and supporting pregnant people in their experiences giving birth is more crucial than ever,” said report author Nora Ellmann, research associate for women’s health and rights with the Women’s Initiative at CAP.

Congrats to HealthConnect One Birth Equity Leadership Academy leader Steph McCreary and to our own interim Executive Director Jeretha McKinley for raising their voices for birth equity with their representation in and development of these reports!