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Local Doulas Continue To Push For Birth Equity

Source: NC Health News

Black Maternal Health Week brought much-needed attention to the issue of Black maternity health last month, and organizations across the country continue to uplift birth equality. 

Organizations like Sistas Caring 4 Sistas, a community-based doula service in Asheville, are spearheading efforts to ensure pregnant people of color have access to equitable maternity care. 

“These outcomes in the United States with Black maternal health is unreal. That should not be going on,” stated Cindy McMillan, executive director of Sistas Caring 4 Sistas, in an interview with N.C. Health News. “These are preventable outcomes. Any provider, any community should be, like, really paying attention to that. Because these are setting the stage for our future.”

N.C. Health News reported that having a doula involved with a birth reduced the incidence of delivery via cesarean section and the rate of birth complications and medical interventions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women and childbearing people are three to four times as likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white people.

Multiple factors contribute to the alarming rate of maternal mortality for Black women and childbearing people, including access to quality health care, racism, implicit bias, and others.

According to the America’s Health Rankings 2021 Health of Women and Children Report, North Carolina ranks 35th for low birth weight racial disparity and Black women have at least twice the rate of severe maternal morbidity compared to white women. 

Doulas, like Sistas Caring 4 Sistas, plan to help address these disparities, but change is needed within the healthcare system to reduce maternal mortality rates. 

“Even though the doula programs are integral to the positive change that we’re seeing all over the country and in Western North Carolina, we definitely need to reevaluate our health care system and our social determinants of health,” stated Ameena Batada, professor of health and wellness at UNC Asheville in an interview with Mountain Xpress. “The systems were failing people of color beforehand.”

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