NYC announces citywide doula program to stem maternal mortality rates

by Ezekiel J. Walker
NYC announces citywide doula program to stem maternal mortality rates
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Doulas, in many cases, have become a lifesaver in America as we continue to face the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations. The Big Apple, however, is stepping up in a significant way for expecting mothers and families.

According to GMA, New York City will begin offering free doula access to birthing families in 33 neighborhoods “with the greatest social needs.” The city plans to also train more doulas — trained professionals who provide support to moms before, during, and after childbirth — as part of its Citywide Doula Initiative, with the goal to train 50 doulas and reach 500 families by the end of June.

Doulas and midwives to help citywide per NYC Mayor Eric Adams.

As part of the effort, the city will also expand its Midwifery Initiative to nearly 40 public and private birthing facilities across the city, and has charged the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with gathering data and developing a report on births and care with midwives.

New York City has a maternal mortality rate of 49.6 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to a report released last April by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Nationally, the U.S. has faced a growing maternal mortality crisis that’s only grown worse since the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Women of color stand to benefit most from a doula

In 2020, Black women died of maternal causes at nearly three times the rate of White women, up from around 2.5 times higher than in 2019, according to CDC data. Black women also died in 2020 at higher rates than Hispanic women, who had a rate of 18.2 deaths per 100,000 births in 2020 — a more than 40% increase from the previous year.

Because of the lopsided maternal mortality rates across America, a growing number of Black women see having a doula, particularly a Black doula, as a potentially lifesaving advocate during birth.  For interested and expectant families outside NYC, the National Black Doulas Association is also a valued resource for locating a doula in your area.

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