The Doulas Are Essential California Coalition (DAECC) was founded in June 2020 to address contradictory hospital visitor restrictions stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. Within six months, our grassroots organization grew to include over 400 birth professionals across the state of California.
An issue of health disparity, not job security.
Doulas provide valuable education and expert physical and emotional support to their clients throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. As nonmedical independent contractors, doulas are also uniquely suited to assist their clients in advocating for evidence-based, non-prejudicial medical practices, providing an additional layer of professional accountability on the care team.
Research has confirmed that doulas reduce disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality among minority groups, particularly Black and Indigenous populations, LGBTQ+ families, trauma or assault survivors, pregnant minors, English language learners, and immigrants. Having a doula present during labor and delivery has also been linked to a significantly lower rate of Cesarean births.
The DAECC is lobbying to protect patients.
Our organization supports Covid-19 precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and California Department of Public Health. We remain acutely aware of the risks and concerns involved with entering a medical facility, and we are committed to ensuring the health of our clients, ourselves, and hospital personnel.
However, we maintain that doulas are essential to a birthing family’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Denying doula support to birthing people, especially when such support continues to be recommended by leading public health organizations, is an unethical and discriminatory practice.
The DAECC is committed to lobbying California’s political leaders and healthcare administrators, requesting that they 1) acknowledge doulas as integral members of the maternity care team, and 2) provide an exemption from restrictive hospital visitor policies, thus ensuring that patients can access equitable, evidence-based healthcare.
During the pandemic, the need for doulas is even greater.
Krysta Dancy-Cabeal, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, founder of the Birth & Trauma Support Center, and expert in perinatal trauma, is intimately aware of the important role that doulas play in trauma-informed care.
While other states initiated their own advocacy campaigns, alarmed by a pandemic-induced retrogression of birth rights, she founded the Doulas Are Essential California Coalition.
“Doulas are literally lifesaving.”
“Doulas are important for trauma-informed care,” Dancy-Cabeal asserts. “They improve health outcomes for the birth person and baby, and they address racial and other disparities in childbirth. We are seeing mental health issues in increasing numbers - especially for postpartum families. Doulas are literally lifesaving. I see this as an issue of human rights in childbirth. Is the right of a birthing person to choose their own support going to be upheld? I see disastrous consequences if it is not.”
Doulas were already essential. However, considering the rising anxieties related to the pandemic, the deprivation of support from family and friends, and the increase in demand on health professionals, she argues that the need for doulas is even greater.
* Doulas are defined as designated labor support persons, birth advocates, or any member of the birthing person’s private care team that does not identify as the non-birthing parent/partner.