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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Addeo

The Value.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023


As I walked back from dropping my three kids off at school today, I had an uncomfortable run-in with a city sanitation worker and it really got me thinking about the divine feminine and the energies I feel are being called in more and more to combat a harsh world dominated by greed and patriarchal ideals . It's such an exciting time, and I'm so glad I get to be a part of the shift. It also got me thinking of how we value (or don't value, as the case may be) these divine feminine gifts that usher in higher frequencies for our society and our collective consciousness. The divine feminine is the spiritual concept that there exists a feminine counterpart to the patriarchal and masculine worship structures that have dominated organized religions and socieites for centuries. This concept extends beyond belief systems, and instead can be used as a spiritual framework to balance our perspective. It is not simply man vs. woman, and rather speaks to what is held internally as opposed to a how a person presents themselves externally. The existence of the divine feminine suggests that complementary energies exist within each being. I believe doula work is an embodiment of this energy.

Insurance companies have started to add doula reimbursement programs and in 2024, NYS Medicaid will reimburse doulas for their work. This is a landmark bill, because I can't think of many other non-medical professionals who get the option to be covered by this insurance. I had the honor to assist CDPHP and MVP in cultivating their reimbursement benefit for their members and a lot of our conversations revolved around the value of a doula, both for the family and for the insurance company. In these conversations, I had to make clear how this benefit will reduce costs for insurance companies and will keep members signing up for their plans year after year. The reality is that the rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in this country are abysmal and most of these deaths and injuries are preventable. The majority of them occur within the 1st year post partum. Doulas follow families after birth and many times are catching issues before they become major complications. And I can attest that more people giving birth today want doula assistance for birth and postpartum. When I gave birth to my first 11 years ago, practically no one knew what a doula was and they thought I was a little kooky for hiring one. Now the word "doula" is becoming widespread, and the work we do is being brought into the mainstream.

Our work starts way before, during the prenatal period. Here we can lay the groundwork with our clients. We help them navigate the hospital systems and medical providers, systems that are historically and currently patriarchal in nature. We help them to find the right team that aligns with their birth intentions, so they can feel supported and empowered along their journey. Empowerment and education are the first steps to avoiding medical complications, especially the all too common umbrella of perinatal mood disorders. When a client experiences something in pregnancy, we are usually their first text. "Is this normal?".....most of the time whatever they are experiencing is common. And we always defer to their medical team if warranted. But there's nothing like that peace of mind that a trusted source can give immediately. Unlike most medical providers, doulas get to know the family deeply and personally. We build rapport and trust with them, and are going in-depth during our prental visits to identify invitations to act. We know about there past traumas, birth and otherwise, and we are usually told extensively about their history and mental health status. This knowledge assists us in understanding when something is really wrong and assists us to anticipate their needs better during their birth. This is why adding a professional doula to your team has been proven to reduce complications of pregnancy, reduce the amount of time someone labors, and reduce the incidence of c sections by up to 39%. It is the trust built that makes the difference.

During their births, doulas are medical advocates, working solely for the family that hires them. This impartial third party can do so much to integrate what the family wants, while not disrupting the delicate energies in the room between the family, the provider and the hospital staff. And at a very basic level, we are essentially witnesses. We take notes on who's in the room, who's called for what, what choices did the client make, etc. We are there to make sure that clients are informed of all their options. We never override what a medical provider has ordered, but we are there to make sure what is going on is in alignment with the clients wishes, and if not, we help them navigate that so they can feel satisfied with their choice. 

News 6 recently interviewed me for a story on the Medicaid bill passage. The interviewer asked me why should more politicians get involved and gain knowledge on doulas and support bills to increase Medicaid coverage for them. I think my answer was relatively diplomatic. But what I really wanted to say is because frankly, their constituents and their babies (aka current and future voters) are dying and are harmed at alarming rates from mostly preventable childbirth related complications, disproportionately their black and brown constituents, and if they don't care about that, they need to question why they are public servants and maybe they need a new line of work. 

We live in a world where people like Jeff Bezos gets to make billion and billions of dollars (I think I read he adds $500 to his wealth every second) and at the same time, our birth center in Troy is at risk of closing because it's owner can't come up with an extra 2.5 mill a year, to assist the people of a predominantly poor city with the birth of their babies. A birth center with a stellar reputation for contributing to the reduction  of maternal mortality and morbidity, a birth center with an overall c section rate of 15% compared to 30-40% at other hospitals. I live in a world where doulas, nurses, and midwvies are struggling to make ends meet in so many ways, and have incredibly high rates of burnout, because this work is so rewarding but it is extremely taxing physically and emotionally and not compensated fairly, just as many jobs which rely on the gifts of the divine feminine are. However, I feel the shift beginning, where the value of these roles are being elevated and where we are ushering in a new era into our culture, where we uphold the sacred role of these gifts by honoring its value, both in esteem and monetarily.  

But, like honestly. Can Jeff Bezos take a moment from running his flea market and read this? Throw a few million bucks toward our little Burdett birth center? Drop in the bucket. A little tax write off for him, as a treat. 

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