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The Impact of Community-Based Doulas on Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes

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Medriva Correspondents
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The Impact of Community-Based Doulas on Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes

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The role of community-based doulas in advancing maternal and infant health outcomes is gaining increased attention. Doulas, as non-medical birth companions, offer emotional, physical, and informational support to birthing individuals. They can play a critical role in improving birth outcomes, reducing maternal mortality, and addressing disparities in maternal and infant health. This article will delve into the potential benefits of partnerships between clinicians and community-based doulas and their impact on maternal and infant health outcomes.

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Culturally Competent Care and Doula Support

Doulas can provide culturally competent care that respects and honors the birthing person's traditions, beliefs, and values. This culturally tailored care can enhance the birthing experience and result in improved health outcomes. According to the Foundation for Black Women's Wellness, community-based doula programs have been found to improve birth outcomes, reduce health disparities, and increase breastfeeding rates.

The Potential for Clinician-Doula Partnerships

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There is a growing conversation around the potential benefits of partnerships between perinatal care providers and community-based doulas. A study highlights the potential of such partnerships in improving maternal and infant health outcomes, particularly for Black birthing people. However, the same study reveals a reluctance amongst U.S. clinicians to share power in these partnerships, an issue that needs to be addressed for these partnerships to realize their full potential.

The Doula-Hospital Partnership Program

One approach to fostering clinician-doula partnerships is through the implementation of the doula-hospital partnership program. A study conducted at an academic medical center in Western Massachusetts as part of the Birth Equity and Support through the Inclusion of Doula Expertise (BESIDE) Investment Program, assessed obstetric clinicians' and leaders' baseline knowledge, attitudes, and experience with doulas, and their readiness to implement this program. The results indicated a strong support for and readiness to implement the doula-hospital partnership program.

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The Role of Doulas in Addressing Systemic Issues

Community-based doulas can play a significant role in addressing systemic issues that contribute to disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. By building collaborative partnerships with healthcare providers, doulas can help create a more equitable and inclusive care environment. The PubMed article, raises the question of whether clinicians can share power to achieve improvements in maternal and infant health outcomes, highlighting the importance of this conversation in the continued pursuit of health equity.

In conclusion, the role of community-based doulas in improving maternal and infant health outcomes cannot be underestimated. Culturally competent care provided by doulas, partnerships between clinicians and doulas, and programs that foster such partnerships can significantly enhance maternal and infant health outcomes. However, for these benefits to be fully realized, there needs to be a shift towards power sharing between clinicians and doulas and a commitment to creating more equitable and inclusive care environments.

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