Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) announced today its new in-home doula program has completed complimentary in-home visits for more than 225 new mothers. The program, which launched exclusively for BCBSRI members in July in partnership with Care New England (CNE), provides mothers who give birth at Women & Infants Hospital a three-hour home visit from a trained doula as an additional level of support following childbirth. This is Rhode Island’s first program of its kind.
Doulas are birthing specialists used throughout pregnancy to support expectant mothers physically and emotionally, both during pregnancy and after childbirth. While doulas are often chosen in advance of labor, research has shown that their services are also highly beneficial for mothers in the weeks following childbirth. Postpartum doulas provide education and support around feeding and caring for a baby, and help parents integrate the new child into an existing family routine.
This in-home service is a part of BCBSRI’s focus on new mothers’ transition from hospital to home, launched with the first phase of its Maternity Care Initiative last October. Doula services are provided by HealthTouch, part of CNE’s Visiting Nurse Association. The Maternity Care Initiative is a unique partnership with healthcare providers giving mothers a more seamless, coordinated experience with improved quality care and outcomes. The goal of the initiative is to deliver the best total experience for mothers giving birth, from the first prenatal physician visit, through delivery at the hospital, to a safe and comfortable transition home following the baby’s birth.
The Maternity Care Initiative grew out of a long-term strategic partnership between BCBSRI and CNE that launched in 2012. The next phase will focus on evidence-based best practices for managing prenatal care and enhancing the patient experience.
“With the implementation of phase II of our Maternity Care Initiative, we move one step closer toward an improved delivery of care in the form of multidisciplinary population health across the continuum of care,” said Care New England President and CEO, Dennis Keefe. “Women & Infants and Care New England will continue to focus on quality outside of our facilities to continue to ensure the best possible care for our mothers and babies.”As a part of this program, mothers will have access to postpartum doula services for the following at-home needs:
- Breastfeeding and bottle feeding guidance and support
- Physical and emotional care after giving birth
- Bathing and general baby care
- Siblings adjusting to the new baby
- Specialized support for twins and multiples
- First-time parent support
- General emotional support/encouragement
“Over the last few years, nearly 8,500 Blue Cross members gave birth at Women & Infants Hospital,” said Mark Waggoner, senior vice president, care integration and management, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. “The recent trend toward more continuous support for expectant and new mothers through services like doulas has tremendous health benefits for the entire family.”
There is evidence that doula visits help new mothers as they adjust to life after baby’s arrival. Some of these benefits include:
• Support for difficult emotions. The U.S. National Library of Medicine indicates that 50 percent of new mothers experience depression or a shift in mood from three to 14 days post-delivery. Doulas can help assess mothers’ emotional responses and allow them to discuss questions or concerns sparked by environmental stressors.
• Increased levels of success with breastfeeding, by 68 percent after six weeks postpartum. Breastfeeding has been shown to have numerous health benefits for infants including protection from stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis.