NYC to expand doula, midwife programs in an effort to address maternal health disparities

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Thursday, March 24, 2022
NYC doula, midwife programs to address maternal health disparities
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New York City is taking a step forward for maternal health by expanding access to doulas and midwives. Eyewitness News reporter Darla Miles has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City is taking a step forward for maternal health by expanding access to doulas and midwives.

On Wednesday Mayor Eric Adams announced the citywide expansion of three key programs to help address disparities in maternal deaths and life-threatening complications from childbirth.

The first program is the Citywide Doula Initiative which will provide free access to doulas, and focus on the 33 neighborhoods with the greatest need.

Doulas are caregivers who provide support both during pregnancy and childbirth, which can help lower the risk of complications during childbirth.

The program will train about 50 doulas and aims to reach 500 families by the end of June. Families who enroll will receive doula support at home and at their chosen birthing clinic.

Families participating in the program will receive three three prenatal home visits, support during labor and delivery, and four postpartum visits. Those who chose an at-home birth will receive the same number of visits as families who chose a clinical setting.

This program will also help uncertified doulas get their DOH certification by the end of June.

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In an effort to create a partnership with midwife organizations and private practices, the Midwifery Initiative will expand to all 38 public and private birthing facilities citywide.

This program will allow the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to gather data on births and care with midwives present for the first time.

A committee will gather data about pregnancy care with the help of midwives conducting research at NYU.

These midwives will help develop ways to measure successful midwifery care models and how to best integrate them into health care settings.

And the Maternity Hospital Quality Improvement Network will also expand across all 38 birthing facilities to improve maternal care.

These three initiatives are part of Mayor Adams' mission to reduce health inequities in New York City, especially in Black and Latinx families.

According to statistics, Black women in New York City are nine times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause than white women, while infant mortality is three times higher.

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