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Bridging the Gap: How Portland New Family Fund Supports Low-Income Families with Birth Doulas

In the landscape of maternity care, birth doulas play an indispensable role by providing continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to parents before, during, and shortly after childbirth. While Medicaid covers birth doula care for qualifying families, there exists a significant segment of the population that falls through the cracks – the "gap clients." These are parents who do not meet Medicaid eligibility criteria yet cannot afford to pay for doula services out-of-pocket due to low income. Recognizing this critical gap, the Portland New Family Fund has stepped up to provide birth doulas to these under served families, ensuring that no parent is left without the support they need during one of the most pivotal moments of their lives.

The importance of this initiative cannot be overstated. Birth doulas have been shown to improve birth outcomes, reduce the likelihood of interventions such as cesarean sections, and enhance the overall birthing experience. For low-income families, the presence of a doula can be transformative, providing a source of stability, advocacy, and reassurance. Portland New Family Fund’s commitment to serving gap clients ensures that these parents receive the same level of care and support as those with Medicaid coverage, thereby promoting equity in maternal health services.

This program is equally important for the birth doulas, who earn a living wage by being compensated their usual fee. For under served parents, birth doulas are often asked to volunteer their time or provide free births for training purposes. Not only does this undercut what doula care is worth, it places under trained doulas with some of our society's most vulnerable families, families who require an extra level of expertise from their doula.

By bridging this gap, PNFF not only supports healthier births and well compensated, experienced doulas but also empowers families to start their parenting journey on a positive note, laying a strong foundation for the well-being of both parents and their newborns.

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