CINCINNATI — Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s why some hire doulas, professional assistants who offer pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum services. Ohio lawmakers are working to help mothers in need with the costs.
Sirah Cross, mother of three, had her share of challenges during childbirth.
“Despite the support of my husband and mother, my first two births just didn’t go the way I thought they should,” she said.
So for her third pregnancy, she decided to hire Sesheta Tafari, Doula and Owner of Me & She Doula Services. Me & She provides educational, physical, emotional and mental support during and after pregnancy.
“Even though I do my research and do my education, there are things that she brought up that I didn’t even know to review or research,” she said.
Cross said the help and support helped her relieve stress and anxiety, unlike before when she struggled with postpartum depression for more than a year and a half.
“I noticed with my third child that it probably went away in the first three to six months, I was able to pick myself up and feel good,” she said.
House Bill 142 seeks to help mothers like Cross. It’s a bill that, if approved, would allow doula services to be covered by Medicaid. Tafari says that, on average, doula services cost between $800 and $1,500 out of pocket.
“Having Medicaid be able to cover these costs would certainly increase accessibility to this much-needed service,” she said.
The Ohio House passed the bill unanimously and it is awaiting a vote by the Senate. Cross thinks doula services should be covered by Medicaid because it’s life changing.
“There’s nothing like having someone who is female who also understands your birth needs and is there to help facilitate that when you’re under the influence of hormones and dizziness. ’emotions,’ Cross said.