Developing the Doula Workforce: Identifying Opportunities & Obstacles to Improve Maternal Mental Health Outcomes in Rural Settings

People in rural settings are more likely to have less access to healthcare services due to distance and a lack of sufficient providers in their area and experience negative outcomes, such as higher rates of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), chronic illness, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, pre-term birth, hypertension, and infant mortality. However little research explores the role doulas can play in rural settings to promote the wellbeing of perinatal people and families. The proposed presentation will describe best practices in using doulas, current research, and programs currently underway in rural settings like Montana utilizing doulas to improve perinatal mental health outcomes. We will describe findings from 3 systematic reviews exploring the use of doulas in rural settings, serving people with substance use disorders, promoting perinatal mental health and reducing PMADs, and describing lessons learned and programs currently being implemented in Montana to develop the doula workforce.