NY Expands Access to Doula Services for Mothers NY Expands Access to Doula Services for Mothers

REBECCA CLYDE: Previously a recommendation was required in order to be eligible for Medicaid to cover doula services. Now, the commissioner of health has issued an order that will serve as this required recommendation. The order also facilitates access to doula care for those enrolled in other health plans. Christine Goldman says this has been a fight families have been battling for awhile.

CHRISTINE GOLDMAN: We’ve been working on this for a long time. Having Medicaid cover doulas services is one of the biggest challenges we’ve had.

REBECCA CLYDE: Doulas offer crucial physical, emotional, educational, and non-medical support before, during, and after childbirth. The rate of maternal mortality remains high in New York State, particularly among Black individuals giving birth. Sankofa Reproductive Health administrative assistant Shaunice Moody says this order will largely affect minorities.

SHAUNICE MOODY: People who live in these communities need doulas the most and so this bill will be so great in that they won’t have to worry about like, “How am I going to be able to afford to feed my children?” – or whatever it is.

REBECCA CLYDE: Mother and doula service client Michaelene Gleasman says doulas provide a level of support medical workers can’t provide. She comments:
“Having a doula was peace of mind. She took care of me and advocated for how I wanted to be in labor, gave amazing relaxation techniques, and was my personal assistant through it all… I personally feel that everyone should be able to have a doula.”

REBECCA CLYDE: With this new order, it looks like New Yorkers are on their way to making this possible.

SYRACUSE, NY. (NCC News) – Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2025 state budget includes measures to expand access to doula care in New York. The new order will act as the recommendation required to get Medicaid coverage for doula services. It will also make it easier for birthing parents enrolled in other health plans to access doula services.

After women give birth, normally doctors don’t see them for around six weeks, said Doulas of CNY owner Christine Goldman. During this time, doulas can play a significant role in relieving the mother.

“It’s a big adjustment period time for moms and families because she’s adjusting to her body, nursing, and it’s good to have support,” Goldman said.

Doulas provide vital physical, emotional, and educational support during pregnancy and postpartum periods, addressing statewide maternal health disparities. 

Additionally, the budget allocates $250,000 for the Doula Expansion Grant Program, aiding community-based organizations in doula recruitment, training, and support. 

That includes community-based organizations like Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center in Syracuse, that offers individuals from their community free doula services.

Sankofa administrative assistant Shaunice Moony said being a doula offers her a chance to heal her community. Moony had a home birth and encourages expecting mothers that it’s an empowering experience. 

“Because I have had a personal experience like that, I’m able to influence that a lot easier,” Moony said.

Personal insight and guidance like this can be beneficial for expectant mothers.

This order means an improvement in maternal health outcomes and equitable access to doula services across New York, particularly in underserved areas.

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