RELEASE: To Advance Maternal Health Equity, Policymakers Must Support Community-Based Doulas and Midwives

Washington, D.C. — In recent weeks, the coronavirus crisis has shined a spotlight on the vast racial disparities in the United States’ health care system—including communities of color suffering from higher rates of chronic conditions and being less likely to have health insurance, as well as the scourge that racism causes in the delivery of care. While the public has begun to learn how these issues are driving higher COVID-related mortality rates among people of color, especially Black people, the same issues also contribute to Black women being three to four times as likely to suffer from pregnancy-related causes than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

In solidarity with Black Maternal Health Week, today, the Center for American Progress released a new report that examines the role community-based doulas and midwives play in recentering community and humanity in pregnancy-related care; how government and the health care system as a whole can better support the integration of doulas and midwives in the delivery of care; and policy recommendations to achieve a progressive vision for pregnancy-related care. The report relies on interviews with midwives and doulas who provide community-based care for the communities most affected by the maternal health crisis and discrimination in the health care system.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Fund existing community-based organizations providing doula and/or midwifery care.
  • Expand access to training and education to support growing a diverse maternity care workforce.
  • Improve integration in and support for doulas and midwives from the medical system.
  • Establish clear guidelines for government regulation of practice.
  • Provide access and the autonomy to choose a range of birth options.

“While the world grapples with a global health pandemic and hospitals across the country are being stretched to capacity, the role community-based doulas and midwives play in bridging health disparities and supporting pregnant people in their experiences giving birth is more crucial than ever. It’s critical that lawmakers and practitioners support a more progressive vision for pregnancy-related care that further includes community-based doulas and midwives,” said Nora Ellmann, research associate for women’s health and rights with the Women’s Initiative at CAP and author of the report.

Please click here to read: “Community-Based Doulas and Midwives: Key to Addressing the U.S. Maternal Health Crisis” by Nora Ellmann

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202.741.6292.