Get Well Wednesday: When A Doula Is A Lifesaver

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WHY ARE SO MANY BLACK MOTHERS DYING AFTER CHILD BIRTH?

A pregnancy-related death is defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 1 year of given birth of any cause related to or aggravated by that pregnancy. So by this definition, Erica Garner, the activist who suffered a heart attack 4 months postpartum, was pregnancy-related. Our prior conditions, particularly stress, and often poor access to good healthcare and institutional racism are all contributing factors.

 WHAT CAN BLACK MOTHERS DO TO HELP KEEP THEMSELVES HEALTHY AFTER CHILD BIRTH?

After giving birth, every woman needs support. We need someone to cook and feed us, someone else to care for older siblings, we need time to rest. And most importantly, we need for healthcare professionals to see us earlier than the standard 6 weeks after birth. Since Black women have the greatest risk of maternal complications, we need more care.

HOW MUCH DOES RACE AND ECONOMIC STATUS HAVE TO DO WITH THE DEATHS OF THESE MOTHERS? 


Regardless of socio-economic status and education, Black women are 2-6 times more likely to die of a pregnancy related complication than white women in the U.S. Recent reporting from Propublica argues that racism is a leading factor impacting the high maternal death rate of Black women. Limited access to healthcare for Black women who are poor contributes to maternal death as well.

YOU STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF HIRING A DOULA, PRE & POST-PARTUM. WHAT IS A DOULA, EXACTLY?

A birth doula is an expectant mother’s helper and guide. She is a trained birth professional who gives educational, physical and emotional support before, during and after giving birth.

 WHAT DOES A BIRTH DOULA DO?

A birth doula will help the mother mentally prepare for giving birth. While in labor, the doula helps the mom manage its intensity physically and emotionally. And after the baby is born, the doula can offer immediate support with bonding and feeding the baby.

DO DOULAS PROVIDE HELP AFTER THE BABY IS BORN?

Yes! Postpartum doulas will work in your home during the early weeks and months after giving birth. They are an extra set of hands and eyes. They can answer breastfeeding and infant care questions, allow the new parent(s) time to rest for a few hours, or identify when healthcare professionals need to be consulted.

Naima Beckles, co-owner of For Your Birth in New York City, is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA certified birth doula, lactation counselor, and mother to two boys. She was drawn to the field of childbirth after being cared for by amazing perinatal health professionals – a community that she hardly knew existed before giving birth for the first time in 2008.

Before entering the field of childbirth, Naima was a secondary classroom teacher. She earned a B.A. and M.A. at Loyola University in Los Angeles, joined Teach for America upon graduating from college, and taught in public schools in LA, DC, and New York City.

Today, Naima attends births and leads childbirth classes in New York at City Births, Melt Massage and Bodywork, and with the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership. She believes that every expectant parent, particularly women of color, needs support before and after giving birth.

Naima answers your Text Tom Questions below:

What are the advantages of childbirth at home and will insurance cover it?

 Healthy low-risk pregnant women who choose to give birth with certified home-birth midwives benefit from a personalized midwifery care model.  Some insurance companies will cover all or part of the midwife’s fee.  

 How much does a doula cost?

The fee to hire a doula varies.  The range nationally for an experienced and certified labor support doula is about $1500-2500. Postpartum doulas will often charge an hourly fee that ranges from about $30-65 an hour.  In general, people who hire a doula are making a nominal investment in physical, emotional, and educational support during a time that can be full of bliss and challenging all at once.

 Is it true that mostly Black mothers who have C-section births have their tissue used for research? Therefore, most C-section births are not medically necessary? 

I don’t know that to be true or not true.  However it’s sometimes true that not all c-section births are medically necessary.  1:3 pregnant women will give birth via c-section.

PHOTO: Courtesy

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