Baby Dove is helping pregnant Black women and people pay for doulas with a grant initiative.
The company announced the new fund Tuesday, which is supported by a $250,000 donation.
“Doulas provide services that go beyond what’s provided in a health care center or hospital, far beyond what clinicians even have the time to do,” Angela D. Aina, executive director of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, which partnered with Dove on the initiative, told TODAY.
Doulas are trained professionals who support birthing women and people during and after childbirth. They provide mental, emotional, and spiritual support; unlike midwives, doctors, and obstetricians who focus on the medical aspects of birth.
Because doulas often aren’t covered by health insurance plans, most people pay out-of-pockets for their services.
It’s been proven that having a doula can lead to better birth outcomes. Multiple studies have shown the impact they have on birthing women or people.
For the Black community in particular, doulas can have a huge positive impact. Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women in the U.S. for a number of reasons, including systematic racism.
Past and recent history shows the healthcare industry is notorious for neglecting the needs of Black women.
“This is happening to Black women regardless of their socioeconomic status, background or education,” Aina said. “What we are experiencing is a significant systemic issue with our healthcare system. Black women are experiencing a high amount of what we call institutional racism and sexism, and (having) terrible experiences around maternal care, which some would classify as obstetric violence.”
Aina said doulas can help Black pregnant people navigate the healthcare system and manage their physical and mental health. They can also advocate for pregnant people when necessary. She also said doulas often provide more culturally congruent care than people may receive from their doctors. They may be better equipped to support birthing people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming, she said.
Baby Dove began accepting applications on Tuesday. Black women or birthing people who are currently pregnant and living in the U.S. are encouraged to apply.
Aina said while the fund is helpful, it’s only one step forward toward birth equity for Black people. There are still other systematic issues that need to be changed, she said.
“We are always promoting the importance of listening to Black women and trusting Black women and investing in Black women.”