The trend of Black women using doulas to overcome maternal death rates

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Black women having babies are at an increased risk of death, according to the CDC. That maternal mortality has a growing number of Black women turning to doulas.

More Black women are using doulas to overcome disparities in health care.

Natasha Brereton is a busy mom of 15-month-old twins. When her girls arrived early, a group of doulas stood by her side during labor and delivery.

RELATED: Maternal death rates are highest among Black women, study says

“Hiring a doula is not just a thing like you just pay someone and move on,” Brereton said. “She’s forever in my life.”

Doulas are not medical professionals. Instead, they provide physical and emotional support before, during and after childbirth.

According to the CDC, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than any other group.

“We have to have some policy change,” Brandie Bishop said.

Bishop is with the National Black Doulas Association. She said birth disparities are system-wide.

“At the baseline, it has to do with racism,” she said. “The system that we have treats Black and Brown bodies the same way that it always has.”

Bishop said solutions include awareness and education plus, “We need people to really make change on a government level when it comes to how Black and Brown women are treated inside of these hospitals.

RELATED: Virtua Hospital addresses issues of maternal mortality for Black women

Brereton considers herself lucky. When the twins arrived, her doula stayed with her in the hospital for three days.

“It’s really rewarding to me in my heart that I’m able to be in these spaces,” Raashnay Hundley, a birth and postpartum doula, said.

“I wish there were more Black women who understood that there’s other things you could do to not just allow the status quo to make you another statistic,” Brereton said.

She encourages them to do their research.

Most health insurance companies do not cover doula services because they are not considered essential care. Payment usually comes out of pocket.

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