In the wake of a study released earlier this month on the benefits of doula care in bringing down health care costs, the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership—a Harlem-based nonprofit offering comprehensive health and social services to families—has renewed its commitment to bring doula care to New York City women.
Last week, the journal Birth published a study that asserted that providing women a certified doula could reduce the cost of a birth by nearly $1,000, saving money for Medicaid and perhaps private insurers. Doula care, Birth found, can help reduce cesarean and preterm births.
NMPP, the oversight agency of the citywide Healthy Women Healthy Futures coalition, is working to train an army of doulas—nonmedical professionals who assist pregnant women, new mothers and their families. The HWHF initiative, funded by the New York City Council, brings doula services that are usually only afforded by the wealthy to mothers from underserved and at-risk communities.
“Women, especially those made vulnerable by social, racial and economic conditions, can find life or death support in the company of a doula. This one individual can be the difference between isolation and care for women who face barriers in advocating for their own right to quality respectful care,” said NMPP Interim Executive Director Ashanti Chimurenga. “The New York City Council has rightfully invested in the expansion of doula care but must find the political good will to increase these supports until members of the Council are assured that every woman in New York City who needs a doula can have one and that women’s health is a priority.”
Doulas are laypeople trained to assist a woman through the childbirth process and beyond. Birth doulas provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to mothers and their partners before, during and immediately after childbirth. Postpartum doulas help mothers with the transition into parenthood. They offer education and support around self-care for mom and infant care, breastfeeding assistance and help around the house after the baby arrives.
NMPP is providing free birth and postpartum doulas to the women of New York City through its HWHF partners in each of the five boroughs. The agency further works to reduce health disparities through its six major programs providing services to area families to reduce infant and maternal mortality, connect clients to social services and increase health of area of area residents.
NMPP is constantly seeking community women to attend their free three- and four-day DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) trainings, valued at more than $500. Trainees are then supported through the certification process. Once they fulfill program requirements, NMPP can hire them to work as consultants providing doula care to clients. Doulas in the program earn $450 per birth and $25 per hour for providing postpartum care.
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