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New Study Might Change Public Support Options for Expectant Mothers

It has long been known that the health of the mother during a pregnancy can affect the development of the child and it’s ultimate well-being after birth. After all, careful analysis of eating habits, ordered bed rest, and other common treatments for mothers during pregnancy are all geared toward ensuring her safety and as well as that of the new life growing inside of her. New research is now finding that even more wide-ranging support to mothers during pregnancy may have very strong effects on the health of the child. The data may eventually change the way public support is provided to these women in order to improve health and save costs down the road.

The Benefits Comprehensive Prenatal Care
The latest research effort was summarized in a KSTP News story this week. Researchers examined the effect that increased physical, emotional, and educational support had on childbirth. In this way, the research took a look at the possible benefits of more wide-ranging support–not just bodily treatments (i.e. watching one’s diet). In total, the study suggests that this comprehensive support for mothers may go a long way to ensuring healthier babies are born and less medical care (and cost) is needed down the road.

Specifically, the university researchers measured the benefit of using “doulas” during pregnancy for low-income families. A doula is essentially a trained individual who acts as a support and educational companion for the mother during the pregnancy. A doula is not one who takes the place of a medical doctor, but instead compliments medical services by offering a range of help for mothers during their pregnancies. According to this new research, the support that these individuals provide may go a long way to improving the lives of both mother and child.

One of the lead researchers on the project from the university’s school of public health explained, “Birth advocates are fond of saying, ‘Every woman deserves a doula,’ and our research shows that that’s probably true.”

From a financial perspective, the researchers found that state support for pregnancies–for mothers using public healthcare services–can be cut by use of doulas as a result of the positive outcomes. Most notably, the study found that low-income mothers who were provided the support of a doula had a 40% lower chance of needed a Cesarean section. C-section births are notoriously more expensive (and come with higher risk of complications). Therefore, the impact of lowering C-section rates alone may be enough to justify the costs of provide extra support before a birth to expectant mothers.

Our Chicago injury attorneys appreciate that If these findings are verified elsewhere or implemented in policy changes, Medicaid program rules might be changed to expand coverage for support services like a doula. Right now billions of dollars are spent nationwide on paying for the extra costs of C-section deliveries and the resulting increase in birth injuries. If that number can be cut significantly, then it would be financially prudent to direct Medicaid resources to cover aides like doulas.

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