How Doulas Are Improving Black Maternal Health

Doula: /do͞olə/- is defined as a woman, typically without formal obstetric training, who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labor.

As a nation, we must focus on improving Black maternal health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women are dying at roughly 3 to 4 times quicker than the rate of white women in birth-related deaths. The CDC also shares that Black women over age 30 are 4 to 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.

Bailey Rollins, the owner of a Brooklyn-based doula service, shares with CBS News that the maternal mortality crisis informs every aspect of her work. 

“I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be a part of the necessary dismantling of systemic racism, obstetric violence and big-business agendas that limit options for birthing people and their partners.”

Rollins tells CBS News.

Rollins offers 24/7 support through email and text, prenatal visits, support throughout labor and a postnatal visit through her company, Moonstone Babies Doula Services. Bailey also offers payment plans so all families can access her services.

“I am able to assist earlier on to help moms get on a good healthy path for optimal pregnancy and birth,” she shares. “This enables me to provide more support and education throughout the stages of pregnancy.”

How Doulas Help

Doulas help their clients advocate for themselves throughout the pregnancy and delivery process, which makes a major difference in birth outcomes. They are passionate about the safety of the mothers and babies they help. They educate their clients on getting a second opinion, asking medical providers to talk about potential outcomes and side effects.

CBS News says that “Black doulas say their presence and support can be incredibly calming and empowering to families who have been treated poorly by medical professionals in the past, experiencing medical racism.”

Although there may be a clash between doulas and medical providers, working as a team for the patient provides the best possible outcome for the baby.

Working with doulas helps moms and families know that they are not alone during the pregnancy process. Mothers have support through their doula and community.

The statistics surrounding maternal deaths are overwhelming. However, policymakers, community activists, physicians and researchers work tirelessly to raise awareness about racial disparities in childbirth and legislate systemic change to guarantee safe and fair births for Black moms, ultimately improving Black maternal health.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Second Chance, Inc.

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