TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Becoming a mother can be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, but it can also come with some challenges.
The Topeka Doula Project aims to help women every step of the way.
Juliet Swedlund is the founder of the Topeka Doula Project.
She’s been working with expecting mothers as a doula for the past five years.
“Being pregnant is a very happy, joyous time, but it can come with a lot of fears and anxieties as well,” said Swedlund. “Having a doula there along that way can help fears not only for the birthing person but their partner as well.”
A doula is someone that provides emotional, physical, and informational support during pregnancy and birth.
But, for women like Jennifer Martinez, having a doula isn’t always affordable or accessible.
“With my first son, I had thought about getting a doula, but I knew that it wasn’t going to be covered by the insurance and it was going to be expensive,” said Martinez. “So, I didn’t look into it.”
Juliet wanted to change that, and that’s when the Topeka Doula Project was born. They help women at little to no cost.
“I recognized there was a need for folks who kind of stood to gain the most from having a doula, but had the least access,” said Swedlund.
Having a doula for the birth of her second child made a huge difference for Jennifer.
“With her, I was like really confident and I felt really supported having her.”
But, it’s not just Juliet. She’s training other women to become doulas, too.
Seventeen have already been trained and several others are in the process of being trained.
Juliet hopes by educating people on the benefits of a doula, they’ll be able to grow and help even more women.
“Once people see the evidence and the research that’s been done for doulas and hear the stories about the work we’ve been doing, they’re really on board with connecting us to families who can utilize this resource,” said Swedlund.
Juliet also offers her doula services to women at the Topeka Correctional Facility.
There, she also teaches classes for expecting mothers and women with young children.
Staff members said Juliet plays a vital role in educating and supporting the women as they begin motherhood
“They’re not able to you know, sit with their mom or their grandma and ask them questions about their pregnancy and what they’re going through,” said TCF’s WALC Coordinator Dani Hulings. “We have Juliet in place so she can do that.”
The WALC program allows women to take part in classes and activities that focus on parenting skills and family reintegration.
For more information about the Topeka Doula Project, click HERE.