Among Black women, maternal mortality and morbidity is a crisis.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts. Similarly, in Rhode Island, there has been an increase in severe maternal morbidity rates, particularly among Black women (306.0 /10,000) compared to White women (179.4/10,000). Black women in the United States also suffer life-threatening pregnancy complications twice as often as White women.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) and Doulas of Rhode Island believe that carrying a pregnancy to term should not put women’s lives at risk. Maternal mortality in the United States is a public health crisis and its severe impact on Black women is unacceptable.
Evidence strongly suggests that providing doula support through Medicaid is likely to reduce these significant racial health disparities, which are tied to social as well as medical factors. Bill H 5609 can help to address this.
Bill H 5609, introduced by Representative Ranglin-Vassell, will provide a definition of perinatal doulas and the services they provide in Rhode Island; the bill will add doula services to the state Medicaid program, and make doula services eligible for coverage by private insurance and reimburse doulas for the care they give.
Receiving support and care from a perinatal doula during pregnancy, labor, and into the postpartum period has been shown to increase positive outcomes:
· Data from a Minnesota study shows that women of color who received doula support have lower preterm and cesarean birth rates
· Doula care has been shown to lower complications and require fewer obstetric interventions, shorter labor hours, and less pain medications
· The American College of OB-GYNs released a consensus statement in 2014: “published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personal, such as a doula.”