Advancing equitable access to doula care in New Mexico

New Mexico ranks 49th among states in access to adequate prenatal care.1 More than half of rural counties in the United States have no hospital obstetric services available.2 According to the New Mexico Department of Health’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, 80% of the state’s pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.3

To advance access to doula care in New Mexico, UnitedHealthcare has donated $150,000 to the New Mexico Doula Association. The organization aims to expand the availability of doula care in underserved communities and to increase the racial, social and geographical diversity of doulas across the state.

Professional doula care can make a difference by filling critical gaps and impacting maternal morbidity and mortality rates. Doulas are trained professionals who provide non-clinical emotional, physical and informational support during pregnancy and birth. Doula support is linked with lower preterm and cesarean birthrates among Medicaid members.4

The grant has allowed the New Mexico Doula Association to fund 22 scholarships for a doula certification program. Scholarship recipients represent a wide range of communities across the state. Participants will receive 16 weeks of training with curriculum that integrates traditional and contemporary practices and principles including informed consent, cultural humility and reproductive justice. The training also places emphasis on serving community members facing the widest disparities in maternal and infant health.

Increasing the availability and diversity of doulas in New Mexico is a critical element in improving maternal health access and outcomes – particularly for underserved communities like people of color and people living in rural areas. The trainings will provide career development opportunities for scholarship recipients. The collaboration between UnitedHealthcare and the New Mexico Doula Association represents a community-based solution to address workforce shortages that impact equitable access to care.

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