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Indigenous Doula Training

This project aims to increase statewide access to culturally appropriate care before, during, and after childbirth by growing Michigan's doula workforce.

A doula is a non-clinical person who provides physical, emotional, and educational support services to pregnant individuals and their families during the prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum periods. Studies have shown doula services to improve immediate birth outcomes and patient satisfaction while positively impacting social determinants of health, supporting birth equity, and decreasing health and racial disparities that exist in our healthcare system. For these reasons, doulas are considered as preventive services according to MDHSS (42 C.F.R. Section 440.130(c)). 

The need for more Michigan community members to have access to trained birth workers is clearly evident by the state legislature’s recent policy to include doulas in the Medicaid reimbursement program (see MDHHS Bulletin MMP 22-47). Despite this policy win, there continues to be a distinct lack of Indigenous doulas available to pregnant individuals in the state. There are zero Indigenous providers registered for Michigan’s Medicaid reimbursement program, and there are currently no qualified doula training programs approved by MDHHS that focus on care for Anishinaabek or other Indigenous peoples. Providing culturally appropriate services during childbirth is crucial for maintaining positive birth outcomes, racial equity, and the socioemotional health of families, and increasing the availability of registered, Medicaid-eligible Indigenous doulas would increase statewide access to care that is not only culturally appropriate but also affordable for low-income families who might otherwise go without.  

Our initiative, Sacred Waters Full Spectrum Indigenous Doula Training, seeks to fill these gaps in Michigan’s doula workforce in two phases. The first six to nine months will focus on gathering traditional knowledge for doula work in order to build a comprehensive curriculum that reflects Anishinaabe teachings. Then, working in conjunction with Michigan’s Indigenous breastfeeding program, The Nooni Project, Miigwech will use this curriculum to provide community trainings free of cost, eliminating barriers to entry into the field and growing Michigan’s doula workforce statewide.

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