Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley Joins Coalition of Lawmakers to Reintroduce Mamas First Act

by Xara Aziz
Office of Rep. Ayanna Pressley

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), alongside Representatives Gwen Moore (W-04I), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Alma Adams (NC-12) and Debbie Dingell (MI-06), and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Bob Casey (D-PA) reintroduced the Mamas First Act, a bill that tackles the maternal mortality crisis by making doulas and midwives accessible through Medicaid.

“Maternal health justice is racial justice. While we work to confront the Black maternal morbidity crisis in America, the Mamas First Act would save lives by ensuring pregnancy-related care includes expansive and comprehensive health care coverage for doulas and midwifery services – including prenatal, delivery, and postpartum services,” said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. “Comprehensive, culturally-congruent care should be a reality for all, not just some, and I am proud to reintroduce this vital legislation alongside Rep. Moore and my colleagues. Congress must pass this bill without delay.”

The United States faces a critical maternal mortality crisis. It has the highest rate among developed nations, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study. While other wealthy countries have seen maternal mortality rates decline, the U.S. rate has doubled between 1999 and 2019. Racial disparities are stark, with Black and Native American mothers two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white mothers. Limited access to maternity care is another major factor. The March of Dimes reports nearly 7 million women and 500,000 births are affected by maternity care deserts across the country.

“America’s ongoing maternal health crisis magnifies the need for federal interventions that can save lives. The Mamas First Act is an important effort because it will expand access to providers who can offer emotional and physical support during and after the birthing process – comprehensive beyond the hospital setting where nearly all U.S. births occur. Our legislation is an opportunity to empower more mothers with doulas and midwives – perinatal professionals who advocate for a mother’s needs. I am thrilled to join my amazing House and Senate maternal health champions in re-introducing this vital legislation,” said Congresswoman Gwen Moore.

The Mamas First Act tackles the healthcare gap for expecting mothers by allowing Medicaid to cover doulas, midwives, and tribal midwives. This expands access to critical support before, during, and after pregnancy, especially in underserved communities. Studies show doulas and midwives can significantly improve health outcomes for both mothers and babies.

Benefits of the legislation would include reduced C-sections, lower maternal anxiety, and improved communication between mothers and healthcare providers.

The Act would also promote culturally competent and patient-centered care, ensuring all communities have access to these vital services. The Mamas First Act is backed by leading organizations like Black Mamas Matter Alliance and the March of Dimes.

“As we’re seeing today at the state level in North Carolina, Medicaid expansion continues to improve outcomes for mothers, babies, and all Americans,” said Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. “That’s why I’m proud to support the reintroduction of Congresswoman Moore’s Mamas First Act. Maternal mortality remains significantly higher in the United States than in other comparable countries, especially for Black mothers. This legislation addresses the maternal mortality crisis by expanding Medicaid to include doula and midwifery care, because having trusted partners in the birthing process saves lives. Mothers are less than half of the population, but we give birth to 100% of it – Congress needs to put Mamas First because our Mamas can’t wait.”

“Good care and support from a doula or midwife can make the difference between a positive and healthy pregnancy outcome, and a devastating one. Every mom should be able to access this critically important care,” said Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. “As Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, I’m proud to join Congresswoman Gwen Moore to introduce the Mamas First Act, a bold step to address our country’s maternal mortality crisis by expanding Medicaid coverage to include doula and midwife care. Together, we can, and must, take decisive action to save lives and end disparities.”

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