INDIANAPOLIS – On Thursday, State Senator Jean Breaux’s (D-Indianapolis) proposal on Medicaid covered doula services, Senate Bill (SB) 416, passed out of the Senate Appropriations committee unanimously.

Infant and maternal mortality in Indiana are devastatingly high and disproportionally affect the African-American community. Doulas are professionals who are trained in childbirth and provide emotional and physical support to a mother who is expecting, in labor or has recently given birth. These individuals are instrumental in helping expectant mothers book necessary appointments throughout pregnancy and advocate for the mom during childbirth. Sen. Breaux had the following comments on the progression of SB 416:

“For women of color, which is why this bill is so important to me, the impacts would be astonishing. Doulas would ensure that healthcare practitioners are listening to the concerns of the mom, her questions are being answered and that her preferences are being followed through every step of the birthing process.

“The impacts of this bill wouldn’t stop at child birth; this would increase the amount of healthy babies that are born in Indiana. Doulas instruct mothers on safe sleeping practices and watch for signs of post-partum depression after the mother has given birth.

“We cannot reach the governor’s goal of lowering the infant mortality rate by 2020, without first addressing the lack of support for pregnant African-American women. Black infants are more than twice as likely to die as White infants, and doula services could dramatically reduce this disparity.

“African-American moms are 243 percent more likely to die from childbirth related causes compared to White women, and 70 percent of African-American babies born are Medicaid births. By providing doula services to Medicaid recipients we will help address the racial disparities that occur in our healthcare system that contribute to maternal and infant mortality.”

SB 416 now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.