New York City Councilmembers Jennifer Gutiérrez, Farah Louis and Crystal Hudson last week introduced legislation to build a pipeline of no-cost professional doula services and an educational campaign across the city.
“This country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality among high-income countries, especially when it comes to women of color," said Gutiérrez. "We know that when people use doulas during pregnancy and birth, they're two times less likely to have birth complications and four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby. Those are life-saving statistics”
The first bill, Int 0472, introduced by Gutiérrez alongside Louis, would require the City's health department to establish a doula pilot program to train doulas and provide professional, free doula services to residents of all five boroughs.
The second bill, Int 0478, introduced by CM Hudson, would require the health department to conduct an education and outreach campaign about the services offered by doulas and midwives; to increase awareness.
“The immediate impact of equitable doula services is a lowering of the mortality rates – especially, in underserved communities,” said Council Member Louis. “Proper reporting will help ensure services are offered, accessed, and executed equally across the City, setting an example for future maternal health service programs and executions.”
By working to build this awareness and pipeline of birth aides, New Yorkers would not only gain access to potentially life-saving support, but it would also increase employment opportunities for New Yorkers.
“Having recently given birth with a doula by my side, I know how critically important they are for providing emotional, physical, and educational support. But doulas also serve another deeply important purpose - they're another advocate in the room who can ensure a positive and safe birthing experience,” Gutiérrez said.