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Painting a new vision for new moms

Celia and Gordon Bowker
Founders members
Invest in maternal and newborn care

When Celia Bowker closes her eyes, she sees a mom alone in her home with a newborn baby and no help. Celia’s a visual thinker—a painter and sculptor, as well as a mother with two grown daughters—so the image of an exhausted woman trying to soothe her distressed baby is clear in her mind.

Then, in Celia’s vision, a Swedish postpartum doula walks through the door.

“It’s the most beautiful picture I can imagine,” Celia says. “Having children was extremely stressful and isolating for me. I didn’t feel support from my family, and I didn’t know how to get it in the community.”

That’s why Celia and her husband Gordon, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Starbucks, support our postpartum doula program. Postpartum doulas provide in-home care for families during what can be a challenging time, when parents are learning how best to meet their newborn’s constant needs while sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion take their toll, and moms may still be recovering from delivery.

Since the launch of our postpartum doula service in 2019, many families have already taken advantage of it to help them get the best start together. But it’s only thanks to donors like Celia and Gordon that this program has expanded to help a growing number of families in financial need.

“I just feel happy to think my gift is helping new moms.” –Celia

When their daughters were born, Gordon had multiple responsibilities in several startup and early-stage businesses, and Celia was the main caregiver for her two girls, so she knows all the ways a postpartum doula can help mothers in a similar situation. “Having this person come in and spend hours in the home, it’s a way I can help women who are struggling,” says Celia.

It was at a women’s health event that Celia first realized that she could help change the situation for new moms who felt stressed and isolated like she did. When she learned about our postpartum doula program, her own experiences came rushing back, and a light went off—this is how she could help moms just like her get the support they need.

Our postpartum doula program is the only hospital-based program of its kind in the country. Whether they’re calming a screaming baby or giving tips for feeding or holding the baby while weary parents get some sleep, postpartum doulas help parents feel less overwhelmed when babies are at their most vulnerable. And that’s only part of the continuum of care for new families at our Lytle Center for Pregnancy and Newborns, which also offers lactation specialists, parenting classes, mental health specialist and support groups.

Celia hopes postpartum doulas can help alleviate stress for families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford these supportive services in the transition to parenthood. “How much more isolating would it be for parents with even fewer resources than I had?” says Celia. “I can only imagine how hard it would be.” She also feels strongly about the program’s commitment to hiring doulas of color and LGBTQ doulas so all the families we serve receive care that makes them feel comfortable.

Thanks to supporters like Celia and Gordon–and you–families have access to holistic health care at Swedish. If you or someone you love is expecting, you can access our doula services by calling 206-215-6106. To learn more about how your gift supports new parents, contact Director of Engagement Lorna Kneeland at 206-215-2217 or lorna.kneeland@swedish.org.