Pregnancy

New Doula Resolution Passed

A growing number of parents are recognizing the many benefits of having a doula by their side during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum — and now the U.S. Senate is doing the same. 

Last week, a bipartisan resolution acknowledging the crucial work of doulas, introduced by Sens. Susan Collins and Dick Durbin, was passed by the Senate. The resolution illustrates the benefits doulas provide to mothers, citing research that shows how doula support services empower parents and may contribute to better birth outcomes and lower health care costs.

“Doulas provide invaluable guidance and support to new and expectant mothers as they navigate pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum,” says Sen. Collins to What to Expect. “I’m pleased that the Senate has passed our bipartisan resolution, which recognizes the important role of doulas and the often unseen contributions they make to help mothers and their families.”

The resolution also urges more widespread recognition for doulas, noting that their work can help reduce health disparities and the impact of racial bias on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) women, who are up to three-and-a-half times more likely to die in childbirth or of pregnancy-related complications than white mothers.

“Doulas work tirelessly to provide emotional and physical support to pregnant people through their pregnancy. I am committed to making this care accessible to more expectant mothers, to address our maternal health crisis and reduce health disparities among mothers of color,” says Rep. Gwen Moore, who introduced a companion resolution in the House, to What to Expect.

The resolution also designates the week of May 9 as National Doula Week. “Doulas are often the missing link in maternal health care and one of the most valuable and cost-effective tools needed to help solve the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis in the United States,” Sen. Durbin said in a press release. “I’m proud the Senate passed our bipartisan resolution honoring the work of doulas during the newly designated National Doula Week.” 

The new resolution, which required passage in both the Senate and the House and now is sent to President Joseph Biden, is a step forward in recognizing the important work doulas undertake for moms and dads throughout the country.

What do doulas do, and why are they so important?

Doulas are trained professional companions that provide parents and parents-to-be with emotional, physical and informational support from pregnancy through the postpartum period. They provide continuous comfort, encouragement and support to ensure you have a healthy, safe and positive birth experience, in addition to helping you adjust to your new role as a parent.

Doulas aren’t medically involved in your delivery, but they help advocate on your behalf to your doctor or midwife, nurses, and hospital or birthing center staff to ensure you get the care you need. They can also help with relaxtion techniques and breathing exercises, suggest labor positions and generally make you feel supported and at ease. If you have a partner or loved one present, doulas will help them help you, too, enhancing their support and keeping you both calm.

Research shows that doulas can reduce time spent in labor, lower anxiety of mothers and support people, lower the rate of medical interventions and health care costs, improve birth outcomes and boost mother-baby bonding after birth. 

Some doulas are also trained to assist you during the postpartum period, such as by helping with common new-parent challenges like bathing, diapering, swaddling, sleeping and breastfeeding.

“There is no better investment in our collective future than maternal health — delivering the respectful, responsive, comprehensive continuum of care every mom needs to deliver a healthy beginning and a healthier future for herself and the baby she loves,” says What to Expect founder Heidi Murkoff. “I’ve always said that doulas are the missing link in that care — a cost-effective, easily scalable, family-focused, community-centered source of the physical and emotional support, information and empowerment that every mom, but especially our most vulnerable moms, deserve. No mom should stand alone, and no mom should deliver unsupported. With a doula by her side, no mom has to. We are grateful to Senators Durbin and Collins and to Representative Moore for their leadership, tireless efforts and commitment as champions of maternal health and champions of doulas.”

Learn more about hiring a doula, and reach out to your practitioner with any questions you may have. The following organizations can also help you connect with a doula in your area:

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