Swedish Hospital offers doulas to low income patients
“Having a baby now in my 30s and having had a few other experiences, it was a completely different experience,” says Lucy King.
King is now a mother of five after recently giving birth to twins. King carried both babies almost to term, even though her pregnancy was considered high risk.
But she wasn't alone in the delivery room. Along with her babies’ father, she had the help of a doula.
Jocelyn Alt is a doula who works with Swedish Medical Center and says she has the best job in the world.
“One way I think about it is anyone can make someone else's day better, but as doula, what's really special is that we get to make someone's day better on a day that they are going to remember for the rest of their life,” says Alt.
It's a unique partnership between doctors, nurses, expectant moms and their doulas, making the birth experience run as smoothly as possible.
“Some of the ways we do that is through physical comfort measures like massage and breathing techniques and relaxation. Some of it is through being that emotional support person,” explains Alt.
The director of Women’s Services at Swedish, Tanya Sorensen, says she has been behind the project since the beginning. Dr. Sorensen, who is also a high-risk obstetrician, has seen first-hand how doulas can help pregnant women before, during and after giving birth.
“We've gotten great reviews from the doctors as well as the nurses and midwives saying that the doula was a really useful part of the team and really helped with the patients,” says Sorensen.
A doula's job doesn't just stop in the delivery room. For a month after the baby is born they are on call 24 hours a day, offering advice and guidance.
“I would say that when I gave birth having her, there was a godsend because my mom wasn't there either because my mother was at home with my other three children,” says King.
While Lucy King had experienced labor and delivery three times before, this was the first time she had the help of a doula.
“Honestly I thought it was like for rich people...someone who can afford another person there,” says King.
In fact, she wouldn't have been able to afford her doula if not for a special program at Swedish hospital. Subsidized service provides free doula support to patients who qualify. Anyone receiving Medicaid is eligible.
“The patients that we have who are low income are every bit as deserving of having a doula as is anybody else, and sometimes those patients are less supported and have less resources and are even higher risk, so the doula is even more important for them,” explains Dr. Sorensen.
The subsidized service is free for anyone who qualifies, but they do require an application from their doctor or the midwife. Find more information on the Swedish Hospital Doula Services section.