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In the News: Blue Shield Program Highlighted During Black Maternal Health Week by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association's 'Health of America'

Doulas are trained, non-clinical professionals who can give a mother emotional, physical and educational support
health of america

Blue Shield of California's Maternal Child Health Equity initiative is featured in the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association's "Health of America" report. Blue Shield announced the initiative Feb. 9.

The report highlights the health equity efforts from Blue Shield during Black Maternal Health Week

The initiative offers a comprehensive program to help address disproportionate mortality rates among mothers and children, especially in underserved communities. Services are available to expecting and new mothers in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Sacramento counties through physician referrals.

While the idea of using a doula isn’t new, this doula pilot program, launched by Blue Shield of California (Blue Shield), is. The idea is that supporting Black mothers with doulas hired by community-based organizations can do more to improve health outcomes and reduce racial health disparities than programs that don’t use workers with intimate knowledge of the communities they serve.

Doulas are trained, non-clinical professionals who can give a mother emotional, physical and educational support. There’s strong evidence that working with a doula can reduce childbirth complications and improve care coordination.

The association also reports:

Blue Shield analyst Courtney Paulson says participants have had a higher percentage of full-term births, fewer Cesarean sections and lower rates of postpartum depression compared to state and national averages. Based on this early success, Blue Shield hopes to increase the doula workforce and access to other culturally competent providers statewide.

Leigh Purry, senior manager of Blue Shield's community health team, says doulas begin by meeting with moms who decide to enroll in the program. “They work to understand their history, their needs, their birthing preferences,” says Purry. “This is when the doula dives into establishing that relationship as a foundation.”

The relationship, says Purry, is critical to decreasing a mom’s stress during pre- and postnatal periods.That stress  may be the result of previous experiences in hospitals and doctor’s offices. “At a patient intake,” says Purry, “many moms report their treatment in health care settings has been unfair because of their race or ethnicity.”

Read the full story here.