Birth companion can improve pregnancy outcomes
Infant mortality among African-Americans in Oregon is two times higher than that of Caucasians. Studies show that this population group is less likely to receive adequate maternal care, and as a result, have higher incidences of infant mortality and premature births.
Monday, lawmakers in Salem passed a measure to direct the Oregon Health Authority to investigate how doulas can improve birth outcomes for women with disproportionately poor birth outcomes. The law, sponsored by Rep. Tina Kotek and Rep. Lew Frederick, Democrats from north and northeast Portland, was sent to Gov. Kitzhaber’s desk for signing.
“Doulas provide critical support for moms before, during and after birth,” said Kotek. “Doulas help bring down costs in the health care system, by helping moms stay healthy and keeping their babies healthy.”
Ilesha Johnson, who gave birth to her daughter on May 24 says she learned of a volunteer doula program at the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, a Portland group which helped pass the new law.
“My doula helped during my pregnancy with transportation, foot massages, a listening ear and resources. She provided labor support, advocated for my birth plan and she stayed with me until the birth of my daughter. And she helped me after the birth with breastfeeding and parenting assistance. I highly recommend working with doula,” Johnson said.
The legislation defines a doula as “a birth companion who provides personal, nonmedical support to women and families throughout a women’s pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum experience.”