Boston's plan to offer doula services is taking shape
Come next year, Boston could become one of the only cities in the nation to offer doula services for expecting parents.
Why it matters: Black mothers and babies face mortality rates more than twice as high as white mothers and babies because of environmental factors and racism — even if white and Black parents are just neighborhoods apart.
- Doula services could help reduce those disparities, health experts say.
Catch up fast: The Boston Public Health Commission received a $4.7-million grant from the feds to launch a community-based perinatal health project that would connect pregnant parents to doulas and train and certify 25 new doulas from underserved communities.
- The program's goal is to train another 50 practicing doulas annually.
What's happening: Boston health officials are starting to build the new doula services team.
- The BPHC is hiring a director, training manager, coordinator and a public health advocate.
- The team will also work with an outside evaluator, who will monitor the project's success, as required by the grant. The BPHC has partnered with Boston-based Accompany Doula Care.
Threat level: The need for equitable and culturally competent reproductive health care is high nationwide, health experts say.
- Maternal mortality rates more than doubled between 1999 and 2019, especially among Black and indigenous parents, per an IHME/Mass General Brigham study.
- Pregnant parents who are Black, Latino and Indigenous face a higher risk of preeclampsia, diabetes, blood clots and other conditions.
What they're saying: "A lot of this is addressing these health inequities that Black women [and] Latinas are facing," says Becky Cruz Crosson, BPHC's director of Healthy Start Systems, which helps pregnant parents and families with young children.
- "So much of the work that we're going to be doing is making sure that those communities have access to these kinds of services."
Zoom out: Few cities offer government-funded doula services.
- New York City and Philadelphia both offer doula services, but they're limited to pregnant people who meet income eligibility and other requirements.
- The BPHC's services are available to any pregnant resident.
What's next: BPHC officials haven't set a target date for the launch, but they plan to build out the core team and start internal training in the spring.
More Boston stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Boston.