The U.S. maternity care system is missing an opportunity to benefit from broad access to high-value doula services. The continuous supportive care of a doula during labor offers childbearing women and newborns impressive health benefits and has no known downsides. Community-based doula programs likewise have been found to make an important difference to vulnerable women and families. Just about six percent of women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals in 2011-12 used a doula, and a much larger portion would have liked to do so. Several state-level analyses suggest that doula services would offer a favorable return on investment. However, insurance coverage for doula services is rare. Medicaid and private insurance coverage of doula services is overdue. There are multiple pathways to increased coverage and ways for many to become involved in making this happen at community, state and federal levels. This issue brief outlines the health and cost benefits of doula care and details pathways to increased coverage.
Bonus: Continuous Support for Women During Labor
Full current Cochrane Review (PDF)