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New doula program aims to improve birth outcomes for Pennsylvanian moms of color

A pregnant woman gently holds her stomach.
Rogelio V. Solis
Miracle Allen rubs her stomach as she relaxes before meeting with the midwife at Sisters in Birth, a Jackson, Miss., clinic that serves pregnant women, Dec. 17, 2021. The clinic utilizes an integrative and holistic approach to women's healthcare by providing comprehensive services including primary care, midwifery care, home healthcare, childbirth education as well as doula support.

The Pennsylvania Doula Commission’s new Doula Equity Program is providing $1,500 to 25 expecting families for doula services, including one grant that’s already been given to a Pittsburgh-area family.

A doula is a trained professional who provides emotional, physical and informational support to parents leading up to, during and after giving birth.

Maternal health advocates have long advocated for doula care to be more widely accessible since their involvement has been shown to improve health outcomes, including lowered maternal and infant mortality rates.

To apply for the grant a person must be Black, indigenous or a person of color. Women from these marginalized communities face some of the starkest maternal health outcomes and the equity program aims to help address these disparities.

Doulas will be directly reimbursed $1,500 for their services. Insurance does not typically cover doula care.

Parents who are at any stage of pregnancy or who gave birth less than a year ago can apply.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio. As a contributor to the NPR-Kaiser Health News Member Station Reporting Project on Health Care in the States, Sarah's print and audio reporting frequently appears on NPR and KFF Health News.