Could midwives, doulas help reduce maternal deaths in U.S.?

In the U.S., women are dying from complications of childbirth more frequently than women in any other developed nation, and numbers are on the rise. Experts say one reason for the problem may be that American women don’t have adequate access to midwives or doulas, who can provide crucial support during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, and who try to minimize medical interventions such as C-sections, which can lead to serious complications.

“Right now our system isn’t well structured to give people options … in the types of providers and support they get, whether it’s doulas or midwives or obstetricians,” Neel Shah, research associate in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a July 31, 2019 interview on the Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut public radio station WNPR.

Shah, who directs the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs, noted that most American women are cared for by obstetricians in hospitals, where rates of C-sections have skyrocketed over the past several decades. C-sections can save lives, Shah said, but added, “We’ve designed the system entirely backwards, where surgeons like me are up front, and then the support, monitoring, and coaching [that midwives and doulas provide] gets left to the wayside.”

Listen to the Colin McEnroe interview featuring Neel Shah: Women In America Are Dying From Childbirth. Are Midwives And Doulas The Answer?

Learn more

Keeping mothers informed may reduce C-sections (Harvard Chan School news)

U.S. pregnancy-related deaths rising (Harvard Chan School news)