DONA International Advocacy Efforts
We’re committed to supporting creative solutions that provide sustainability for doulas and access to doula care for all families, including economically vulnerable families. As we look to the future, we’re planning incredible initiatives that will benefit doulas and the families we support.
In efforts to expand our impact on maternal-child health and further our mission and vision, DONA International has developed a strong advocacy arm which is made up of five targeted sub-committees. You can find the areas of focus below, and we invite our members to join in the efforts in support and participation with one of these sub-committees as we work toward improved access to doula care, and advancement for the doula profession, together.
New York Doula Legislation
On June 18, 2019, New York State legislators approved Bill A00364B and its counterpart in the Senate S03344-B, potentially affecting the work of doulas in New York. Please read the below letter from the DONA International Board of Directors to Governor Cuomo regarding this legislation.
We understand that there are inequities in birth outcomes in the United States and in countries and communities across the world. Numerous clinical trials show that the support of doulas improves maternal and infant health outcomes.
DONA International values the clinical research that demonstrates the positive impact of doula support on health outcomes. To that end, we are dedicated to researching the benefits and trade-offs of third-party reimbursement in an effort to make doula support more accessible without compromising the profession.
Areas of Focus
DONA International leadership has identified five areas of focus for our advocacy efforts. Each area of focus is represented with an active member-driven subcommittee. Read below to meet our subcommittee chairpeople as well as learn about goals for each area.
Doula Profession Promotion and Credibility
For the last 25 years, DONA International has worked hard to establish and promote the doula profession. We are committed to the continued growth of the profession into the future and to increase the awareness and education about doula support to health care providers, third-party payers, families and other stakeholders.
The DONA International board of directors has recently begun to pursue opportunities to represent our member interest at the legislative level in the United States. These opportunities include working with the congressional maternal and child health caucus, as well as lobbying opportunities such as the March for Moms.
Research and Data Collection
DONA International has been collecting data and research about the work of our doulas for many years. As we expand doula support, this committee will continue efforts to document the impact doulas have on birth and postpartum.
Advocacy Sub Committees
Kelli Brien, Chair
Committee Members: Rina Crane, Susan Young, Eliza Wilson-Powers, Chama Woydak
DONA’s Birth Equity subcommittee aims to raise awareness among doulas, clients, healthcare providers, policymakers, and the general public about disparities and inequities in healthcare; educate DONA International doulas in effective ways to reduce health disparities and inequities, as well as improve health outcomes among communities currently and historically experiencing discrimination; and decrease disparities and inequities among population groups and communities within our scope of practice as doulas.
Doula Profession Promotion and Credibility
Chair, Open Position
Committee Members: Ann Pollack, Annie Ortiz
The work of DONA’s Doula Profession Promotion and Credibility subcommittee is centered around the goal of ensuring the sustainability and growth of the doula profession. This includes educating birthing families, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders about the role and benefits of doula care, as well as giving DONA members the resources they need to advocate for doula support in their communities.
JoLynne Polichette, Chair
Committee Members: Melissa Harley, Colleen Kelly, Savannah Taylor, Betsy Quilligan, Robin Weiss
The Legislative Action subcommittee works collaboratively with the DONA board of directors to identify, understand, and consider opportunities for DONA International and its members to advocate for the doula profession and the health and well-being of birthing families. This includes ensuring that DONA members have key resources to engage with policymakers at all levels. In addition, the Legislative Action subcommittee plays a major role in the annual March for Moms, a multi-stakeholder event and movement in which DONA is a key partner.
Insurance Payment For Doulas
Vanessa Kenny, Chair
Committee Members: Paula Reiss, Amy Bauer, Debra Catlin
DONA International recognizes that the topic of insurance payment for doulas is complex, under-researched, and often controversial. The Insurance Payment subcommittee is working to collect as much information as possible about current policies, programs, and advocacy efforts related to insurance payment for doulas in the United States, Canada, and around the world. This information will be shared with DONA members and will help inform any future evidence-based decisions or actions of DONA International that concern insurance payment for doulas.
Research and Data Collection
Kate Wright, Chair
Committee Members: Lauryn Valladarez, Hillary Melchiors, Sunday Tortelli, Corina Tudor
DONA International believes that access to high-quality data and evidence is absolutely critical to decision-making. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of doula care for birthing families and healthcare systems; however, more work is needed to educate communities, policymakers, and other relevant stakeholders about published findings and more research is needed about doula care and its impact on the world around us. The Research and Data Collection subcommittee aims to fill these gaps wherever possible by facilitating the collection and analysis of high-quality data from doulas around the world.
We invite you to join us!
We currently have positions open on the following committees.
Doula Profession Promotion and Credibility (Chair Position)
If one of these focus areas are of interest to you, please reach out to our committee chair to get involved.
DONA International Data Collection
DONA International is working to build the world’s largest database of doula-reported perinatal outcomes. A commitment to evidence-based doula training and certification is in our mission, and we feel it is essential to contribute to the knowledge base regarding the impacts of doulas on birth and postpartum outcomes.
How can I contribute data?
All DONA International members can submit data about the birth and postpartum clients they support. All data is anonymous and we do not collect any personal information related to your clients!
To submit an online data collection form, simply log into the DONA member portal and select one of these buttons from the menu:
- Birth Data Collection Form – Choose this option if you served as a birth doula for the client, or if you served as both a birth and postpartum doula for the client
- Postpartum Data Collection Form –Choose this option if you were a postpartum doula for the client
Before you are taken to either the birth or postpartum data collection form, both of which are hosted on a secure, electronic data collection and analysis platform called Qualtrics, you will be asked to answer a few questions about yourself first. We have set this up so that after you answer the questions about yourself in the DONA member portal the first time, you will merely need to confirm that those answers are still accurate when you submit new data collection forms in the future.
This new infrastructure will allow us to analyze the survey results, examine possible correlations, and draw meaningful conclusions that will contribute significantly to the body of research on doulas and provide insights into how DONA International can best serve its members.
DONA International members can access video tutorials on completing the online data collection forms by logging into DONA Connect and going to the Member Center Library. The video tutorials are in the Member Resources folder.
How the information will be used
We will also be able to share the results of the data with our members and answer many questions like:
- What is the breakdown of DONA International members according to race/ethnicity, languages spoken, levels of formal education achieved, and years of doula experience?
- Do the clients of DONA International members with more years of experience have better outcomes?
- What are the demographic characteristics of the clients that DONA International members serve?
- How many clients does the average DONA International member take on per month and how much do they tend to charge per client?
- How often do DONA International members attend home births?
- What are the cesarean section, induction, episiotomy, and epidural rates among DONA International births compared to national or state averages?
- Do clients of DONA International members have shorter labors than average?
- How long are the typical shifts for postpartum doulas and for how many weeks do they work with any given client?
- Do the babies of DONA International member clients have better outcomes than average?
- What impact do DONA International members have on breastfeeding?
In order to accurately answer questions about the doula workforce and the impact of birth and postpartum doulas on birthing families, the data we collect must be representative of the entire population of DONA doulas and the clients they serve. If only a small subset of DONA members completes the data collection forms—or if doulas submit the forms for some clients but not for others—the results will be skewed and potentially unusable. We need your help to make this research endeavor a success, thereby strengthening the evidence base for doulas to catalyze changes in maternal and newborn health policy.
The benefits of this information
If we are successful in this endeavor, DONA will have one of the most valuable data sources on doula care in the world. By participating, you will be playing a critical role in ensuring the growth and sustainability of the doula profession, ultimately bringing us closer to achieving our collective vision of a doula for every person who wants one.
The Advocacy Committee team has compiled a list of frequently asked questions that will be useful for your review as you get started with submitting your online data collection forms You can access that here: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
If you still have questions, please reach out to the DONA Advocacy committee at firstname.lastname@example.org for further clarification.