Expanding Equitable Access to Doulas for Patient-Centered Maternity Care
Empowering Health Care Consumers
December 9, 2022
Most maternal deaths and complications are preventable, but they stem from a complex mix of individual, health system, and societal factors, including implicit bias and structural racism.
Although there is no silver bullet solution to the maternity crisis, doulas are emerging as a cutting-edge strategy. Doulas are trained nonclinical childbirth professionals who provide physical, emotional, and informational support during and after pregnancy and are associated with better maternal and infant health outcomes. However, people of color and people with low incomes are less likely to use doula services because of cost, access, lack of cultural sensitivity, and provider resistance. This past year, New York City Mayor Adams increased funding for maternal and infant health initiatives to $30 million per year, including the new Citywide Doula Initiative (CDI) to expand access to no-cost doula services. In 2022, NYHealth awarded the Fund for Public Health in New York (FPHNYC) a grant to leverage the initiative to provide people with low incomes and people of color with better access to doulas.
Under this grant, CDI will strengthen the doula workforce and their community-based organizations. The City has already provided basic trainings to doulas on topics like postpartum depression; NYHealth funding will allow for expanded training topics and reach, including more doulas receiving certification as lactation counselors and new areas like providing LGBTQ-sensitive care and navigating hospital settings. Along with these skills-based trainings, FPHNYC will provide administrative technical assistance to assist community-based organizations in managing contracts with the City.
NYHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with a grant to Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.