Forsyth County, N.C. (WGHP) – Giving birth is a life-changing experience.

It can also be a scary and lonely one for some women.

The National Birth Coalition is focused on black maternal health and eliminating disparities in care.

A network of trained doulas provides information about pregnancy and reproductive health to give women what they need to make informed choices about their bodies and their babies.

Founder and Executive Director ShLanda Burton uses her experience as a certified birth doula to support mothers before, during and after pregnancy.

“We are more holistic. We’re not an organization that’s going to tell you one mainstream idea. We’re going to give you a lot of different ideas and information as a doula,” Burton said. “As Black and brown people, statistically, we are not given a lot of the information upfront and available – we have to dig, dig, dig. And so this nonprofit is established to be the first response resource for Black and brown people in Forsyth County.”

Burton was with Juwanna Jessup on Mother’s Day weekend when she gave birth to her second daughter, Sophia.

“My labor started probably around midnight May 12 and I contacted Ms. Burton,” Jessup said. “As my doula, she was there giving massages and coaching me through.”

Burton also helped Jessup move into a new home, accompanied her to appointments and made sure she had access to healthy foods.

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“She’s just been a light, a Godsend through The National Birth Coalition. I don’t know what I would have did without her,” Jessup said.

A grant from The Winston-Salem Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative helps The National Birth Coalition support families and spread the word about the nonprofit’s services.

You can find more information, make a donation or connect with a doula online.