A new study published this week in Birth reports that doulas—certified pregnancy and childbirth coaches—could save insurers big money by decreasing the likelihood of expensive (and dangerous) complications.
Research published by Cochrane reminds us that before we accepted hospital births as the standard, women received personalized, continuous care from early pregnancy through postpartum and nursing. Now, we’ve made pregnancy more medical than personal. We have “dehumanized childbirth”—and it’s threatening the health of moms and babies.
Doulas take us back to an earlier, more individualized standard of care, and their one-on-one services reduce the risk of cesarean section and other complications. The term itself comes from a word meaning “woman who serves” and refers back to the idea that women should support other women with sensitivity, respect, and empathy during such an important time.
The Birth study was the first of its kind to suggest doula care would actually save insurers money, since C-sections and premature births are costly. We know doulas can make a big difference, but their cost is often limiting; insuring doula care could begin to close socioeconomic and racial gaps and ensure better birth care for more women.
Here’s hoping insurers take a look at this research. Insurance-covered doula care could give us a much-needed change to our childbirth standards, bringing more intimate care back into what should be a personalized – not to mention healthier and more affordable—experience.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.