Expanding Access to Doula Care in Rhode Island
Expanding access to doula care — especially through insurance coverage — is critical to improving the health and safety of pregnant people and their children, and particularly Black birthing people and their families.
In 2021, NIRH partnered with SISTA Fire to establish insurance coverage for doula care. This successful partnership led to securing Medicaid coverage for the doula care through the state budget, and passage of SB 484/HB 5929, which mandates inclusion of doula care in private insurance plans.
Evidence strongly suggests that the presence of a doula significantly improves birth and postpartum outcomes and mitigates the racial disparities in parental and fetal morbidity and mortality. Research shows that access to doula care leads to an increase in positive birth outcomes, a dramatic reduction in birth complications, increased health equity, and cost savings. Additionally, doula care has shown to lead to fewer cesarean births, shorter labors, and an overall reduction in medical spending by eliminating unnecessary procedures and avoiding complications that can occur before, during, and after birth.
The budget item and bill were championed by a coalition of doula and advocacy groups including NIRH’s partner, SISTA Fire, a local network of Black, Indigenous and women and nonbinary people of color, who work to build their collective power for social, economic, and political transformation.
This victory is built on years of hard work of doulas, organizers, and Black birth workers’ leadership. This bill is rooted in our community’s love and commitment that all people are treated with dignity during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period.
Preetilata Hashemi, SISTA Fire Member and community doula