Appearing in public for the first time since announcing her run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Bob Menendez, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy hosted a roundtable discussion at University Hospital in Newark this morning to discuss maternal and infant health progress in the state and announced the introduction of a bill that ensures pregnant mothers can be accompanied by their doulas in hospitals and birthing centers across the state.
Under the bill, hospitals and birthing centers must develop and maintain policies that allow doulas to accompany patients before, during, and after labor and childbirth.
These facilities will also be required to publicly post their policies and designate a contact to maintain communications between their staff, the doula community, and patients.
“Doulas are an essential part of an expecting mother’s health care team and deserve to be recognized as such. Their involvement has been proven to reduce birth complications, lower rates of C-sections, improve mental health, and so much more. If I could change anything about my four pregnancies, it would be to have the support of a doula,” Murphy said at the event.
“With the help of our partners in the Legislature, we are working to ensure that every mother in New Jersey has access to doulas in their greatest moment of need.”
First Lady Tammy Murphy launched Nurture NJ in 2019 as a statewide program committed to reducing the maternal and infant mortality epidemic in New Jersey and ensuring equitable care among women and children of all races and ethnicities.
In January 2021, the First Lady unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, a blueprint to reduce New Jersey’s maternal mortality rate by 50 percent over five years and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes.
Today’s bill announcement addresses two recommendations within the First Lady’s Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan:
1.) Develop a communications plan to promote benefits of midwifery and community doula models of care; and
2.) New Jersey hospitals should institute systemic changes to accommodate doulas and safe birth practices.
The sponsors of this bill include Senator Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, as well as Senators Renee Burgess and Nellie Pou, and Assemblymembers Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano, and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.