How Doulas Could Help Address Arkansas’s Maternal Health Crisis

February 6, 2024


John Lyon
Strategic Communications Manager


ACHI Communications

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The United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed nation, and Arkansas has a higher maternal mortality rate than any other state. Public radio station KUAF looks at how doulas could play a role in addressing this crisis in a story featuring interviews with ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson, Willow Creek Women’s Hospital CEO Juli McWhorter, and Melissa Eudey, a certified doula.

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    For Arkansas' maternal health crisis, doulas could provide a lifeline

    Doulas are professionals trained in childbirth who provide emotional, physical, and other supports to pregnant or recently pregnant women. For more on what doulas do, see our explainer.

    The ACHI Health Policy Board has taken a position in support of expanding access to doulas in Arkansas. At least 12 states and the District of Columbia provide reimbursement for doulas services in their Medicaid programs, but Arkansas currently does not.

    Arkansas’s maternal mortality rate is unnecessarily high. A recent report found that 92% of pregnancy-related deaths that occurred in the state between 2018 and 2020 were likely preventable. In addition to expanding access to doulas, other potential strategies for protecting maternal and infant health include extending postpartum Medicaid coverage for one year and ensuring that cesarean-section deliveries are performed only when necessary.

    Our infographic outlining “9 Points on a Healthy Birthing Journey” notes other strategies that could make giving birth less risky for moms and infants in Arkansas.

    More resources on this topic are available on our Maternal and Infant Health page.

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