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Readers React: Doulas can help address deficiencies in maternal care


Readers React: Doulas can help address deficiencies in maternal care

May 18, 2024 | 6:00 am ET
By Letters to the Editor
Readers React: Doulas can help address deficiencies in maternal care
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With regards to “Doctors plead with Congress to help improve U.S. maternal mortality rate,” by Jennifer Shutt, May 3, 2024.

Our nation is failing its mothers. In Louisiana, Black mothers are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white mothers. Worse, still, is the fact that 92% of these deathsmay have been preventable.

As States Newsroom reports, health care experts have pleaded with Congress for “creative ideas” to address these maternal health disparities. Specifically, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act combines thirteen individual bills to provide sweeping maternal healthcare reform. While the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is a crucial step in reducing maternal mortality, this legislation omits a creative and cost-effective solution that has a proven record of improving health outcomes and equitability—doula care.

Doulas are trained professionals that provide physical and emotional support to mothers before, during and after birth. Doulas reduce the risk of medical interventions, which leads to better birth outcomes for the mother and the child. Specifically, a doula can reduce the rate of a risky C-section by 40% and can reduce the risk of a low-birth-weight delivery by nearly 10%.

These benefits are amplified for women that are marginalized or may encounter barriers in the healthcare system. This is because doulas serve as advocates, which is essential for Black women and people of color that face discrimination and biases in our healthcare system. Doulas are also empowering, as they ensure that a mother’s voice is heard and body is respected during birth.

Doula care can complement current health initiatives such as the expansion of HBCU medical schools and the reduction of financial barriers for future doctors. In increasing the number of doulas, we will not only address the medical side of birth, but the emotional side, too.

As Louisiana citizens dream up creative ideas to solve the maternal health crisis, let them not overlook the importance of doulas in providing equitable and essential care.

  • Amelia Hartshorn, Hanover, New Hampshire