First lady Tammy Murphy held a roundtable discussion on Wednesday at Children’s Futures in Trenton to highlight $1 million in funding in Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed 2020 budget to provide doula care service to expectant mothers on Medicaid.
The investment is intended to help combat racial disparities in health outcomes for New Jersey mothers and their children.
A statement released by the governor’s office said that research demonstrates support from a doula (birth coach or post-birth supporter) is associated with lower caesarian section rates, fewer obstetric interventions, fewer complications, and improved health of babies after delivery. Doulas support healthy pregnancies by providing culturally appropriate social and emotional care to pregnant women throughout the prenatal period, labor and delivery, and the postpartum period.
The governor’s budget plan includes $1 million to implement doula coverage through NJ FamilyCare, which is New Jersey’s Medicaid program.
“Improving health outcomes for mothers and infants of color will need a comprehensive approach,” said the first lady in a statement.
“This $1 million in funding for doula services and programs is just one part of our strategy to help eliminate the racial disparity in maternal and infant care. We have a long way to go in fighting for a stronger, fairer, and healthier New Jersey for every baby, every mother, and every family in this state and this is just the beginning. I look forward to working with our partners in the Legislature to build support for this budget initiative,” said Murphy.
In addition to this new proposed funding, as part of Nurture NJ and New Jersey Department of Health’s current $4.7 million investment in its Healthy Women, Healthy Families program, community partners have hired 77 outreach workers — 40 doulas, 29 community health workers and eight community health worker supervisors — to improve the health of black women. Sixty-three women are participating in the doula pilots. To date, 19 have delivered their child with the support of a doula.
“We are grateful to the First Lady for her leadership in the fight for health equity and anxious to make doula services part of the NJ Medicaid program,” said Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson, who oversees Medicaid. “Building a stronger and fairer New Jersey means giving every mom and infant the support they need to thrive, and culturally appropriate doula services can help us give moms and infants of color the strongest possible start.”
The announcement is part of Nurture NJ, First Lady Tammy Murphy’s statewide awareness campaign committed to reducing infant and maternal mortality and morbidity and ensuring equitable maternal and infant care among women and children of all races and ethnicities.
The campaign, which is devoted to serving every mother, baby and family, includes a multi-pronged, multi-agency approach to improve maternal and infant health among New Jersey women and children. Nurture NJ includes internal collaboration and programing between departments and agencies, an annual Black Maternal and Infant Health Leadership Summit, the First Lady’s Family Festival event series, and social media strategy to inform and raise awareness.