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Doula Certification Could Help Address Health Disparities in CT, Advocates Say

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Thursday, June 23, 2022   

Connecticut is moving forward with efforts to create a certification program to help make doula care more accessible in the state.

Doulas support pregnant people throughout the birthing process. With state certification, doulas would be able to receive reimbursement from HUSKY, the state's Medicaid program, for their services.

In Connecticut, Black women are 2.6 times more likely than a white woman to die within six weeks of childbirth.

Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation, said doulas are a key workforce to help reduce racial health disparities.

"No person should have a bad birthing experience, let alone face the possibility of mortality due to childbirth," Donelson asserted. "And that's what we want is a state where individuals are able to have the best birthing experience."

Research shows doulas can reduce the likelihood of birth complications and increase breastfeeding rates. The certification would establish a set of standards for the doula workforce.

Last month, the governor signed a bill into law to create the Doula Advisory Committee within the Department of Public Health.

The advisory committee will include doulas, midwives and other health care and birthing professionals to help come up with qualifications for the certification.

Cynthia Hayes, a certified interdisciplinary doula, said it is critical for the certification to be crafted with equity in mind.

"We have to get community input," Hayes urged. "We have to let them know we're here and why we're here because I think that it can only be successful if we have community buy-in, not only for those who will utilize the services but also for those who want to become certified doulas."

Connecticut's Department of Social Services also is working on adopting a "maternity bundle" supported through HUSKY which will pay for a wide variety of care from prenatal to postpartum, including doulas and breastfeeding services. It is expected to go into effect next January.


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