For many women, the journey towards motherhood is an exciting one. But for others, the experience is less than what they imagined. Without appropriate prenatal care and support, expectant mothers are at a higher risk for complications or worse.

Black women have an especially high maternal mortality rate. According to the CDC, Black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white mothers. There are several reasons for this including unequal access to quality health care, racism and underlying comorbidities. Tennis superstar Serena Williams shared her life-threatening pregnancy experience. And unfortunately, she’s not alone.

As a result, doulas have become a topic of interest for many expecting families. There are other reasons for the increase in demand for doulas. Some of them include limited access to their family due to COVID-19 restrictions, increased desire for natural approaches to pregnancy and growing awareness of the benefits of doula care.

A doula is a health professional who specializes in providing care to new mothers and their families. Doulas offer a range of supportive services to facilitate a healthy pregnancy and birth. Some of the ways they help expecting families include birth planning, techniques for pain management and partner coaching.

When it comes to receiving medical care, Black women, and particularly Black mothers, are largely disregarded. Hiring a doula can give Black mothers a voice concerning the care that they’re provided. Doulas can also provide much-needed support to those who feel unsupported in their journey. Let’s take a look at what to know about doulas:


You May Qualify for Free or Discounted Doula Services

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Every mother deserves quality care, but they can’t always afford to hire a doula at full price. Black women are an especially underprivileged demographic who may find that hiring a doula is not within their budget. According to a Goldman Sachs report, there’s a more than 90 percent wealth gap between Black women and white men in America.

Fortunately, many Black women may qualify for free or discounted doula services. There are hospitals that offer free doula volunteers to pregnant women who can’t afford them. There are also government-funded and non-profit organizations that provide free or discounted doula services to low-income women.

If you don’t qualify, many organizations offer payment plans to customers who can’t pay a lump sum up front.


You Can Contribute to the Black Community

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Pregnant women often seek out large agencies that offer doula services but there are also doulas with their own practice who work independently. You may find many of them advertising their services on social media. Choosing an independent doula is a great way to support small businesses. And choosing a Black doula is especially helpful because it’s a small contribution to the economic advancement of the Black community as a whole.

When choosing one, it’s important to ask for their credentials. Doulas should undergo extensive training and certification before practicing with clients. Verifying a doula’s credentials can mean the difference between receiving quality care or a lack thereof.


You Can Still Hire One Even After You Give Birth

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For some women, the period after birth is the hardest. It requires making a life adjustment that women may find challenging. This can lead to postpartum depression, a condition in which new Moms experience feelings of sadness, irritability, and despair. Medical News Today reports that more than 11 percent of women experience postpartum depression. Black women were two times as likely to experience postpartum depression than white women.

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Because of this, it’s important that Black mothers feel supported after the baby arrives. Fortunately, doulas offer optimal care to new Moms and their families. They provide a wide range of postpartum services including:


You Can Hire More Than One

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For a more comprehensive care experience, pregnant woman can choose to hire a team of doulas. This is especially beneficial for Black women who widely report feeling unheard when it comes to receiving medical care. Now, Black women can hire multiple doulas to meet all of their unique needs.

Choosing more than one doula is particularly helpful for both the mother and doulas. Doulas work hard to provide quality services to their clients. They must be available for their clients whenever they need them which can sometimes lead to long, tiring work hours. Hiring multiple doulas can ensure that you receive adequate care from a team who shares responsibilities.

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Hiring a team can also provide you with more support than having just one. Each doula may have their own strong point so having a team of experts with diverse specialties is a great way to obtain all-encompassing care.


There Are Different Kinds of Doulas

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A doula isn’t just someone who works with pregnant women. There are several different types of doulas, with each one offering their own unique service.

Death doulas are specialists who offer services to people who are dying and their loved ones. They provide a safe space for them to openly talk about their feelings surrounding death, including any fears and anxieties that they may experience. Some other services include final preparations, hospice, and palliative care as well.

There are also abortion doulas who offer services to women who are considering an abortion or have had one. They can walk women through the abortion process and answer any questions they might have. Also, they facilitate a healthy coping journey through guided meditation, encouraging words, and massages to ease muscle tension following an abortion.

When hiring a doula, make sure that they specialize in the care that you need.