Doulas and state senators work together to tackle Ohio’s high infant mortality rates

OHIO, USA – In 2020 alone, the Ohio Department of Health reported that 864 babies died before their first birthday.

To combat this high infant mortality rate, Ohio state officials announced the introduction of Senate Bill 93 on Wednesday. Senate Bill 93 will allow Medicaid to reimburse doula services.

With the support of a doula, who is a licensed professional who helps families manage pregnancy and childbirth, the state hopes to see more babies pass that one-year threshold.

“Doulas can provide prenatal education so they can help educate parents on how to care for their babies, how to keep them safe after they’re born,” said Angie Bauman, director of nursing at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. . “They give them training on the birthing process and hands-on support during the birthing process, which is really important in minimizing primary C-section rates and having good birth outcomes.”

Anita Foreman created a network of doulas called The Doula Xperience to combat high infant mortality rates in Lucas County.

Credit: Doula Xperience

“To date, we have trained 24 people to become full-spectrum doulas in Northwest Ohio,” Foreman said. “We’re the largest team of black-owned, female-owned doulas here, so we’re really excited about it.”

Foreman said his company goes into homes and hospitals to advocate for often ignored families.

“As part of advocacy, we elevate our clients’ voices and empower them to use their voices when they go to their appointments,” she said. “Sometimes we just need an extra layer of support and that’s what doulas provide.”

Foreman uses his voice at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, alongside State Senator Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo.

Credit: Ohio Statehouse

“Statistically, we know that maternal health and infant mortality are at an alarming rate in the state of Ohio,” Hicks-Hudson said.

According to the CDC, the infant mortality rate is 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births nationwide. But in Lucas County, that number is 9.5 per 1,000 live births.

Ohio’s target is less than or equal to six infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

“There are too many stories of women who gave birth and didn’t come home with their babies because they didn’t have the help they needed,” Hicks-Hudson said.

Foreman and Hicks-Hudson say it’s important for the community to come together to create improvements in the medical field and they both plan to continue pushing for doula services.

“Within some agencies, I now feel like we’re heard and our clients are much more supported,” Foreman said. “It’s been a road, it’s been a fight and it’s been a journey. So we’re excited to know where we are now with our team and with our customers.”

Credit: Doula Xperience



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