Changing the conversation on birth equity: issue brief 2 is on medicalization of birth

Published February 21, 2020 under Blog

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Community-Based Doula and the Medicalization of Birth is the second of five policy briefs designed to call attention to the most pressing challenges inhibiting broad adoption of community-based doula services that contribute to birth equity.

In October 2019 we released our first report, Doula Legislation-Creating Policy for Equitable Doula Access. At almost the same time last fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women 

Key components of this report include:

  • A historical context that shows how the medical profession in the 20th century sidelined traditional birthing experts who supported pregnant and birthing women. 
  • Not only are  maternal mortality rates unacceptably high, women who experience severe maternal morbidity – which can be defined as “near misses” for women of color — number in the tens of thousands.
  • The report highlights how community-based doulas support women through the perinatal period and addresses how doulas and medical professionals such as nurses can team up to protect pregnant women.

We issue these briefs to reinvigorate the conversation around birth equity through home-visiting perinatal support services including how to integrate this support in the health care system and its ability to impact health outcomes for every woman touched, but especially U.S. women of color and indigenous women. 

We welcome the opportunity to engage with you about this topic or hear suggestions for future briefs, please send questions or comments to Sadie Wych, our Evaluation and Learning lead at or 815-382-3382.

Download Community Based Doula and the Medicalization of the Birth

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