Doula services now covered under Virginia Medicaid expansion

Urban Baby Beginnings members at Gather Short Pump during a perinatal training session in March.
Urban Baby Beginnings members at Gather Short Pump during a perinatal training session in March.(Stephanie Spencer)
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 6:56 AM EDT
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Doula Sequoi Phipps-Hawkins has heard plenty of stories about doctors brushing off the concerns of pregnant Black women.

“I heard from some of my white colleagues and friends that they just never felt unsafe. They never questioned any of their recommendations for their doctors,” said Phipps-Hawkins.

It’s a stark contrast to the treatment some of her friends of color encountered during their birthing experience.

Phipps-Hawkins said they told her things like, “My doctor didn’t believe me that I was in labor” or “My doctor didn’t believe that I was in pain and they delayed getting me pain medication and I had to deliver without pain medication when I requested it.”

Those experiences, coupled with learning about the maternal mortality crisis and how it disproportionately impacts Black women, led her to become a doula – a profession whose services Virginia is encouraging pregnant people to use through a new Medicaid program.

Virginia is the fourth state in the nation to offer community doula services to people enrolled in Medicaid. Twenty-six state-certified doulas have been approved to work with Medicaid since the program began this spring, according to Christina Nuckols, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. The department hopes to have 100 by the end of this year and 1,000 by the end of 2023.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)