Over three times as many Black women die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts, regardless of socioeconomic status or education. Data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 60 percent of those deaths could be prevented if better and more equitable health care was available.
Non-medical professionals, such as doulas, who offer emotional, physical, educational, and therapeutic support during prenatal and postpartum periods are filling the gaps in health care. Doulas are statistically more likely than doctors to help with birth complications, and they are four times as likely to have low birth weight babies, according to a study published in The Journal of Perinatal Education in 2013. The Baby Dove’s “Black Birth Equity Fund” offers pregnant Black women a one-time grant of $1,300 toward doula services in order to help expand access to these vital services.
In a statement, Baby Dove’s global brand director, Sally Brown, said black mothers have a right to superior care throughout their parenting journey. “But for too long, Black moms have not received the care they deserve, and the consequences are significant—we are committed to helping change that. Expanding access to doulas through the Black Birth Equity Fund is just the beginning, and in partnership with organizations like Black Mamas Matter Alliance, we will work towards systemic change that will improve the birthing journey for Black moms and their babies.”
In most cases, the $1,300 grant will cover at least half if not all of the cost of doula care. The cost of doula services varies greatly depending on location, service type, and experience levels. Doula services are not typically reimbursable by many health insurance companies. Doula services are only required to be covered by Medicaid in Oregon, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Medicaid is paying for doulas as part of a pilot program in New York, and grants in Indiana cover this service. Doula services are subject to Medicaid coverage in 17 states due to proposed legislation.
Well+Good’s Aina Hogan explains that, as a Black woman and birthing person, having doula support increases birth outcomes in general. A doula, in particular, can meet the need for a clinical care, hospital-based or facility-based service that cannot be met by a clinical provider.
Baby Dove’s “Black Birthing Equity Fund” is accepting applications until December 31. No income level is taken into account when choosing who should receive the funds. In fact, this disparity does not discriminate based on socio-economic status or education,” explains Aina. “For this reason, it didn’t make sense to limit the grant to just first-time parents. In the healthcare system like in society at large, the experience of racism and sexism that Americans face even seeps through how we receive health care, how we are believed, and the type of care that we need and deserve.”
Baby Dove will grant more than 190 people grants in the first months of the fund and will evaluate the possibility of expanding the program as it goes forward. Beginning at the end of September, applicants will be selected once per month and notified of their status. Once notified, they will complete the required forms, and the money will be disbursed to them through a check or ACH payment shortly thereafter. Candidates must be pregnant at the time of submission, but recipients can use resources retroactively if they hired a doula before receiving funds.
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