Amendment would provide women at Cook County hospitals with free doula services

Jasmine Minor Image
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Amendment would provide women at Cook Co. hospitals with free doulas
What is a doula? How much do doulas cost? The Cook County Board will vote on an amendment that would help expand access to their services.

COOK COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- A doula can cost a couple thousand dollars, depending on how long a mom keeps them around for.

So, $1 million could mean any woman in a Cook County hospital gets access to the service free of cost.

"There's no price on someone's life, whether it cost $1 million or $10 million," said Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller.

Miller said after experiencing her own struggles while giving birth, she wanted to take action by putting forth an amendment that dedicates $1 million to Cook County Health for doula services.

"Knowing what I went through in delivery, if I didn't have an advocate there with me... Luckily, my advocate was my husband," Miller said.

She says not everyone has that. According to the CDC, Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth. But, the Chicago Department of Public Health says in the city, they are six times more likely to die a year after giving birth.

That's where Miller believes doulas can come in as the advocate and the bridge between hospital staff and a patient.

"They have the level of trust that I will help to be an interrupter to harm," said Doula Kemeera Nimahat. "I release the discomfort of birth. I let go of the worry, tension and fear of birth."

Nimahat has been a doula for eight years. Her career began after she felt the system was failing Black women.

"There is a level of relatability that we will have to one another, that other people just simply can't have," Nimahat said.

She says Black women are typically not listened to during pregnancy. That's why she fights hard to make her clients comfortable, even setting up a postpartum plan with house visits weeks after the birth.

"We are starting to really understand that the solutions are going to have to come from us," Nimahat said.

"You should not die in pregnancy. You should not die postpartum," Miller said.

The amendment will be voted on during Thursday's special county board meeting at 9 a.m.