The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously supported a program to expand doula services across the area by making them more accessible and conducting outreach to increase the size of the doula workforce.
“Across the nation, maternal and infant mortality rates are exponentially higher for Black people than any other group,” Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, who introduced the motion, said in a statement. “Doula care is shown to improve pregnancy experiences and birthing outcomes. We must increase awareness of doula services for mothers and families across the county and expand our workforce to be more representative of our communities most in need. This motion helps us achieve this by investing in the success of our new doula Medi-Cal benefit.”
The motion approved by the board directs the Department of Public Health to work with other agencies — including the Department of Health Services and the Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion initiative — and report back in 60 days with a plan to create a “hub” for doula service providers, making their services more readily available. It also calls for an outreach program to recruit more doulas, who provide support for pregnant women during labor, childbirth and beyond.
According to Mitchell’s office, doula services have been found to reduce the rate of pre-term and Caesarean births and decrease symptoms of postpartum depression. Her office also noted that the Black infant mortality rate in the county is triple the rate of white infants, and the Black maternal mortality rate is four times that of white maternal mortality.