Submitted by Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center
“Everyone should have a doula,” noted one mother who birthed with a doula from the Every Woman & Child Counts project.
New York lawmakers agree. Recently approved in the New York state budget, doulas across the state may begin to certify as Medicaid providers as early as Jan. 1, 2024.
Eileen Kineke, director of the P3 Center, explained that six diverse birth doulas work with the Every Woman & Child Counts (EWCC) project, a community-based doula program housed in the P3 Center at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
“These women are ready for doula service,” she said. “Since May, these dynamic, well-trained women have attended the births of over a dozen Niagara County residents, providing non-clinical advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort before, during and after childbirth.”
In addition to increased patient satisfaction, research has shown that access to doula services may lead to improved birth outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Hear Her” campaign, truly listening to pregnant or postpartum people may save lives.
Another EWCC mother stated, “I felt understood and cared for while my options were carefully explained with a great level of care.”
Indeed, all EWCC mothers who completed feedback surveys reported they felt heard by their OB/GYN providers and supported by their doulas. As a result, all reported they were satisfied with their birthing experiences.
Kineke noted, “As an added component, monthly workshops are held on-site at NFMMC’s Mary Dyster Women’s Pavilion on 10th Street in Niagara Falls, where participants can meet the doulas and other expectant parents to learn about topics such as birth planning, labor and comfort measures, steps for a healthy pregnancy, postpartum and well-child visits, nurturing new babies, and planning life after baby. According to one participant, ‘This program was amazing and really made you feel less alone and understand the birthing process.’ ”
The doula works with the parent until the postpartum OB/GYN visit, but the support doesn’t have to end there. Participants may enroll in P3 Center’s community health worker program or stay engaged through the program’s other groups and activities, including “Milk & Tea,” a breastfeeding support group.
“The programs work together as a cohesive team supporting pregnancy, birth and postpartum, with the birthing person as the team captain,” SAID Jennifer Sierant, P3 Center Supervisor, who brings expertise to the program as both a certified doula and lactation counselor.
NFMMC is committed to providing free birth doulas to dozens more pregnant Niagara County residents through the end of 2024, as made possible by a grant from the Blue Fund and a contract with Amerigroup. Interested parents may call 716-343-0817 to learn more about this opportunity.