The maternal mortality crisis has cast a long shadow over the United States. “Pregnancy-associated deaths”—which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines as “the death of a woman during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a pregnancy complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy”—are on the rise, with Indigenous and Black people two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white people. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported an 18 percent increase in U.S. maternal mortality between 2019 and 2020, with a higher relative increase in Hispanic women and non-Hispanic Black women. At the same time, national rates of postpartum depression (PPD) almost tripled during the early days of the pandemic, with one in three new parents experiencing intense sadness, anxiety, or despair that interfere with daily living.
To combat this striking loss of life and to support the mental well-being of new parents, a suite of holistic birthing practices is empowering people to take control of their birth and postpartum experiences. These efforts are making a dent in these grim statistics and are reintroducing the joy of childbirth, particularly to underserved communities.$25b
Doulas offer culturally minded, holistic care for birthing people that emphasizes education, counseling techniques, and advocacy tools, says Trends Advisor Latham Thomas, the founder of Mama Glow, a maternity brand dedicated to empowering folks on the “childbirth continuum.” There is strong evidence that doula care increases maternal satisfaction and leads to better health outcomes for the newborn child, and that potential is drawing more people to holistically-minded birthing care. The search term “doula” has gained traction on Google over the last five years, and the global doulas and birth coaching market is expected to increase from $13.5 billion in 2022 to $24.6 billion by 2032. “[These services] are really meeting some of the structural, cultural gaps that exist to ensure that people come on the other side of their pregnancy into the birth and early postpartum journey feeling whole, capable, competent, and supported, but also feeling empowered and transformed,” Thomas says.