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Medi-Cal Offers Doula Services for Low-Income Birthing People

A family with medium-dark skin tone sit on the wood floor of their apartment. There is a man, woman, infant and 1 year old.
Adrian Chatman and her family.
(Mariana Dale/ LAist)
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If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been writing a lot at LAist about how to navigate pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.

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First of all, pregnancy can be fraught with complications and, really, even the easiest of pregnancies can be challenging. Not just physically either. There are so many questions and concerns in one’s head about how to ensure this new life feels love, and comes into this world as healthy as they can possibly be. It can be challenging to figure out what to ask — and to whom.

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These worries are valid.

Medi-Cal's New Benefit: Offering Doulas

The reality is that the outcomes for some birthing parents — and their babies — in California, and across the country, are grim and disheartening. Despite increased awareness, the infant mortality rate for Black babies is double the state’s average rate for all babies. In Los Angeles County, Black babies are three times more likely to die than white infants. Black mothers die at a disproportionately high rate as well.

It’s a fact that the more marginalized you are, the more socioeconomic obstacles you will have in navigating this journey in society. And there’s so much emotional support needed.

That’s why Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, is offering some new benefits to low-income birthing parents: doulas. Doulas provide continual physical, emotional and informational support for their clients throughout the entire term of the pregnancy and postpartum period.

So what is the benefit of having doula services for low-income Medi-Cal patients?

There’s data that shows having a doula is extremely beneficial for the birthing parent and the baby. For example, parents with doula support are less likely to have a preterm birth or cesarean section. Doulas are also increasingly viewed as key to helping reverse the birthing disparities experienced by women of color that I mentioned above.

Medi-Cal officially added the benefit of doula services at the start of the year, but it may take a few months to get the program up and running. My colleague Mariana Dale talked to several people about how doulas fit into a broader goal for Medi-Cal to ensure low-income families throughout California have healthy pregnancy outcomes. You can read all about it here and get more information on what Medi-Cal enrollees need to know to receive the benefit.

The LAist early childhood team has you completely covered with several guides about navigating pregnancy and beyond. Please check them out and share with people you believe would find this useful. 

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

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  • *Checks 10-day forecast* Welp, my friends, it looks like we’re going to continue to have quite a wet week ahead of us. Please stay safe out there. The rain will intensify in L.A. later today rain but already there are flood advisories for Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. My colleague Gillian Morán Pérez has some tips for us on how to be ready for any storm.
  • Dudleya is a native plant that comes in handy during a storm as it helps prevent soil erosion. But did you know that some of its species are endangered and at risk of poaching? My colleague Mariana Dale digs into why Dudleya is so special and how it is protected in California. 
  • The Sacramento area, again, bore the brunt of the latest storm. Rain and wind on Sunday led to power outages for 230,000 electricity customers in the capital city. (AP)
  • On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked federal government for emergency assistance for this next series of storms. Intense weather is expected for next two days. (Los Angeles Times)
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  • The California Legislature has a lot of work to do this year considering the homelessness crisis, a looming recession and all the battles over gas prices. Here are the five key questions to think about this legislative session. 
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  • Back in 1968, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were teenagers when they were cast as Romeo and Juliet in the hit film. The actors, now in their 70s, last week filed a civil complaint against Paramount Pictures arguing their director Franco Zeffirelli forced them to perform nude despite being told otherwise. My colleague John Horn digs into an analysis on Hollywood’s abuse of power.
  • Celebrate Japanese Heritage Night with the LA Kings at the Arena tonight or commemorate the 40th anniversary of ‘Hey Mickey’ with Toni Basil at The Grammy Museum on Wednesday. There’s these cool events and more this week.
  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

Wait... One More Thing

The Top Three Tea-Sipping Trends

People in yellow and green gather at the National Congress in Brasilia on Sunday.
Supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro invade the National Congress in Brasilia on Sunday.
(Sergio Lima
AFP via Getty Images)

It's that time of the week where we highlight what people have been talking about social media all weekend. Here's a sampling of the top chatter...

THREE — The Show Must Go On? NFL Teams Play On After A Player Suffered Cardiac Arrest 

Yesterday, the Buffalo Bills played their first NFL game since Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, suffered cardiac arrest and was put on a breathing tube last Monday. His hit led to several criticisms about the dangers of playing professional football, like this one and if they’ll ever be true reform, like this one. It was a challenging week for NFL players and fans alike who were hoping for his recovery after the hit. The great news is that he is finally able to breathe on his own.

Here’s how the Bills game went, by the way. Russell Wilson and Derwin James shared a moment in honor of Damar Hamlin on the field.

TWO —  People tweet in disgust after Los Angeles Magazine publishes a story about a new L.A. neighborhood called “EaHo” 

Seriously, how do you even pronounce EaHo? L.A. Mag published a story about L.A.’s newest “It” neighborhood. Several people reacted swiftly on Twitter and commented that this renaming of neighborhoods is just one symbol of gentrification’s impact in L.A.

ONE — A mob storms into Brazil’s presidential palace and supreme court in protest of their new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a veteran leftist

Two years after Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building following his defeat of the election, Brazil experienced an eerily similar security breach in their capital, Brasília. Supporters of past president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the country’s congress, presidential palace and supreme court on Sunday, a week after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated as president. He defeated Bolsonaro in a runoff in October. People all over watched the incident unfold, condemning the “stunning” actions. At least 400 people have been arrested.

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