- Associated Press - Saturday, July 29, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas doula, an assistant to women giving birth, has started a nonprofit to help teenage mothers, incarcerated pregnant woman and low-income single mothers.

Juliet Swedlund told The Topeka Capital-Journal that women in these underserved groups may not even be aware that a doula is an option because they are not covered by most insurance in Kansas.

“Most of the women you will find who are getting a doula are middle-income white women,” she said. “But there are whole populations of people who are missing out on this service because of fees or because of cultural norms and even awareness that this is an option.”

She launched the Topeka Doula Project to reach out to those groups.

“As a birth doula, your primary goal is to empower women to have a positive birth experience, to feel informed about their options and to assist them with the birth they hope to have,” she said.

Doulas give nonmedical assistance to woman during birth, such as suggesting position changes, massage techniques or helping a woman’s partner be better involved. They offer physical, emotional and informational support.

“A doula can help them process that transition and help them navigate the emotions that they’re feeling to have the most positive birth experience,” she said.

In their training, doulas are required to attend a certain number of births and get feedback from obstetricians, midwives or nurses who were present at the births.

Swedlund said she plans to work with the Washburn Law Clinic so she can begin applying for grant funding. She’s also working on creating partnerships to raise awareness about the services she offers.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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