The state of doula care

The state of doula care

This series from The Lily examines how the role of doulas intersects with private and public insurance, race, socioeconomic status, policy and the medical community.

(Illustrations by Holly Stapleton for The Lily)
(Illustrations by Holly Stapleton for The Lily)

As the United States continues to grapple with pregnancy-related deaths and infant mortality, which disproportionately affect Black, Native American and Pacific Islander communities, policymakers are taking a closer look at how doulas may be able to help reduce health disparities.

Nationwide, state lawmakers are introducing bills related to doulas — nonclinical professionals who provide physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy and beyond. Some propose covering doula services through Medicaid, a state and federal program that insures more than 64 million people in the United States.

In this series, we explore the role of doulas, meet people who have experienced their support and examine the barriers doulas face in states that cover their services through Medicaid.

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Behind the growing movement to include doulas under Medicaid

The goal of Medicaid coverage of doula care is threefold, according to advocates: support people who are giving birth, provide culturally congruent care and compensate doulas fairly for their work. Read the full story.

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What is a doula? And other answers to common questions.

Doulas can’t deliver babies or provide medical care, but they can help reduce birth trauma. Learn more about how doulas are beneficial and whether insurance plans cover the cost of birth support. Read the full story.

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Oregon covers doula work, but progress is moving at a ‘glacial pace’

Despite incremental change, doulas say the Oregon Health Authority’s efforts to integrate them into the state’s Medicaid system has been frustrating and fragmented. Read the full story.

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Doula work is ‘taxing’ with little pay. Can Minnesota make it more sustainable?

Minnesota remains one of just four states that offer doula care through Medicaid. But there’s still room for improvement: “We never intended that what we have now is the ideal.” Read the full story.