Nevada doula program helps support women of color through pregnancy

Keyzondra Thomas hasn’t always felt supported in her maternal health journey. So for her third pregnancy, she sought out the assistance of a doula to help her navigate care and advocate for her well-being.

“I’ve always felt unheard in my other two pregnancies and I’ve done my research on doulas so this time I’m going to go in with all the support I can get,” she said. 

Doulas can be one part of the solution for better maternal health. A doula is a professional childbirth assistant who also provides personalized care, education and emotional support. They attend to a pregnant mother’s needs throughout their prenatal care, labor and beyond.   

In Nevada, as well as the nation as a whole, troubling racial disparities exist within maternal care outcomes – including pregnancy-related deaths. Black people have four times the rate of pregnancy-related deaths than white people. What’s more, 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are preventable, putting in stark relief the need for solutions at a grassroots level to help mothers and families achieve healthier outcomes.

Health Plan of Nevada (HPN) created its Medicaid Doula Program in collaboration with Vegas Family Doulas to help support women of color, fill a current gap in care and ensure these women are not just surviving, but thriving in their pregnancy, delivery and post-partum.

“Pregnant people deserve the resources to help them have the healthiest and safest pregnancy possible,” said Kelly Simonson, President, Health Plan of Nevada Medicaid Plan. “Our Medicaid Doula Program helps provide consistent, compassionate care throughout pregnancy, every step of the way.”

For Keyzondra, this has meant a real relationship with her doula, and someone to reach out to, day or night, with questions or support.

By having this doula program informed from the ground up by health equity and culturally supportive efforts, the hope is to reduce these disparities for those with Medicaid.

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