In the state of New Jersey, the Department of Health issued an executive directive that exempted doulas from the limits on support persons during a pregnant person’s hospital stay during the COVID-19 pandemic. This executive directive from the DOH recognizes the importance of doulas and affirms that they play an essential role in an expectant mother’s care team. Before this directive, only one person including the doula could be with the mother in the hospital. This directive will allow doulas to resume their duties during labor in the age of COVID-19.
Doulas support pregnancies by giving emotional support and research has shown that pregnancies with doulas lead to fewer complications, a lower cesarian section rate, and overall improve the health of both the baby and the mother after the birth. This directive is especially important because New Jersey, as First Lady Tammy Murphy states “currently has among the worst maternal and infant mortality disparities in the country. The culturally responsive care that a community doula can provide to a pregnant parent has shown to greatly improve birth outcomes for pregnant parent and babies of color. Doulas are a critical part of Nurture NJ’s efforts to make New Jersey the safest place in the nation to deliver a baby.”
According to America’s Health Rankings, New Jersey ranks 47th in maternal mortality. Black women and babies are also more likely to experience disproportionate maternal and infant health outcomes. Black women are five times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women and black babies are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies.
Because of these statistics and the First Lady’s commitment to maternal and infant health through the Nurture NJ campaign, the DOH has increased support, outreach, and services to women of color to improve health outcomes.
This directive is a good first step in ensuring that doulas are able to continue their work and help women in New Jersey.
Header image by Aditya Romansa via Unsplash
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Diana Holiner is currently a student at Emerson College where she is majoring in Visual Media Arts Production. She lives in Dover, Massachusetts and enjoys hanging out with her dog and watching television.