Pregnant women on Medi-Cal have a new option for support before, during and after delivery

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Cecily Salazar is a doula, a non-medical support person trained and certified to care for pregnant women before, during and after giving birth. “It stemmed from my own birthing experiences,” says the mom of two boys.

Her first birth experience was traumatic, so the second time she educated herself and worked with a doula, who supported her through the birth. “It was empowering for me,” Salazar says. She became a doula herself in 2019.

Doulas have been around since the 1980s but have not been well known until more recently. They’ve been operating independently, but because research has shown the benefits of doulas – their work has been linked to increased positive delivery outcomes, fewer C-sections, lower epidural use and reduced anxiety and stress during the birth process – the California Department of Health Care Services added doula services as a Medi-Cal benefit in January 2023.

Last year, the Central California Alliance for Health – the Medi-Cal provider for Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Mariposa and Merced counties – signed on to provide doula services and nearly a year later, starting April 1, two doulas will be available in Monterey County for Alliance members. The agency is actively recruiting for more doulas to join as providers.

Dr. Dianna Diallo, a pediatrician and medical director with the Alliance, says adding doulas to the medical team caring for mothers and babies is a valuable step. “The way I see it, the more the better, because really, especially for new moms, it’s just such a vulnerable, isolating time,” Diallo says. “Healthy mommy, healthy baby.”

Read the full article on the Monterey County Weekly website.

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