Seeking a Doula

Parent Q&A

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  • Seeking sibling doula recommendations

    (0 replies)

    Looking to connect with anyone who has had a positive experience using a sibling doula who cares for your older child while you are giving birth.

    We do not have family or close friends who live nearby and both parents want to be present for the birth of baby 2 in June.

    Thanks in advance your responses.

    No responses received.

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  • Doula with a medical background?

    (1 reply)

    Hello trusty parents!

    I'm looking for a birthing doula to assist with my first birth this June. I'm specifically interested in someone with more medical background/training who can act as a medical advocate in addition to supporting me emotionally.  Does this group have any recommendations of doulas who fit this profile?

    Many thanks,


    Yes! I used Nancy Myrick several years ago. She's a nurse midwife but she had time in her schedule so agreed to be my doula for a hospital birth. I wanted to go Full Hippie (no meds, non-medical vibe) but at the same time wanted to feel safe in case anything went sideways, and she was perfect. I know another woman who also had her as a doula, and one who had her as a midwife for a home birth (which was not for me, but she does that too). All 3 of us had excellent experiences. Mine was like something out of a nature documentary. The medical staff totally trusted her to keep an eye on me and use an intermittent hand-held monitor so no one tried to hook me up to a monitor, even. So I was able to give birth on all fours, on a blanket, in a dim room, to the sound of buddhist chanting on a tape player, all things people assume are impossible in a hospital.

  • Doula Recs for High Risk Pregnancy?

    (6 replies)

    I’m seeking recommendations for Doulas who are comfortable supporting high risk deliveries in hospitals (and willing to travel to John Muir). I wish I could deliver at home or in a birth center, but because of my health, those are sadly not options. I’d love a very experienced doula who is comfortable and confident in a hospital setting. I’m against unnecessary  interventions and want someone who will be incredibly knowledgeable and supportive as well as a strong advocate for me.

    Meadow Evans is a dream. I don't know if she will travel to John Muir, but otherwise she can do what you need. 

    Grey Crane - Bodywork and Birth Support (

    Hi there, thanks for sharing this and I am wishing you ease and comfort during your labor and delivery. My doula was with me for 70 hours of labor and an ultimate c-section delivery which was not wanted or intended and happened because of complications. She was my advocate more than my partner was and I don't know how I would have survived the pain and decisions and discomfort without her. We gave birth in Kaiser Oakland and she has experience with some home, and more birth center, and hospital births. 

    Her name is Juli Diamond and her email is juli [at] Wishing you luck!!

    Hello! I highly recommend Pamela Star (she goes by Star). She was my doula for my high risk pregnancy/birth and was wonderful. She is comfortable with hospital and home births (mine was at Alta Bates), and has supported parents at many many hospitals. I imagine John Muir is among them.

    We chose Star after a traumatic first birth experience including a terrible doula who essentially abandoned us, so I was extremely discerning this second time around. Star is warm, nonjudgmental, and excellent at advocating for your needs.

    I’m happy to share more of that would be helpful!

    I normally wouldn't leave a negative review for anyone online, but because there's a recommendation here for Pamela Star, I wanted to chime in to say that Star was my doula a couple years ago during a high-risk pregnancy that resulted in an emergency c-section and I do not recommend working with her. One of my L&D nurses at UCSF, who was wonderful, shared after my delivery that she had never before seen a doula be so absent and unhelpful. I'm happy to share more details offline. 

    I just gave birth and became high risk at the end of pregnancy due to preeclampsia. I can’t imagine going through delivery without the support of our doula, Katie Seifert, particularly as we had to make decisions on interventions throughout a long induction. I don’t know about John Muir as we delivered at Kaiser Oakland, but I’d definitely recommend interviewing a few doulas to get a feel for who you want present. If you have the budget for it, I was also very grateful for our postpartum overnight doula, Ruby Neal, who’s support helped my whole family recover from the hospital experience.

    I would strongly recommend Yula Paluy! She helped me achieve the VBAC i was hoping for and is very down to earth and data driven in the recommendations and support she provides.

  • Doula who is also a nurse?

    (3 replies)

    Hi families!! 

    I'd love to hear any recommendations on doulas in the area! I just found out I'm expecting my second and want to explore this option for my pregnancy journey. Preferably a doula who is also a nurse. Thank you in advance! 

    I HIGHLY recommend Claudia Penate. She was a nurse for a long time so she is super familiar with birthing in a hospital setting and extremely knowledgable about all the medical things that can go on during a birth. She was my doula when my baby was born last year and she was instrumental in me having the exact birth I hoped for. We had a few meetings with her when I was pregnant and she was loving, compassionate, reassuring, and helpful as she guided us through some decisions about our birth preferences. She checked in frequently towards the end of my pregnancy and was my go to person when I had questions. When it came to the actual birth, she was so steady and confident and was the perfect support for both me and my husband (he really felt like he was on a team with her, not like she was taking over for him or anything like that--my husband felt just as cared for by Claudia as I did!) and stayed with us until we were settled into our postpartum room. Claudia visited us a few weeks after we came home but was available to talk through any questions I had before then. She is just a wonderful person--I can't say enough good things about her! Her website is:

    She's not a nurse but I highly recommend Grace Klein as a doula. She is practical, grounded, and knows a lot about the medical system. I can't imagine having gone through it without her. I would think that once someone has RN qualifications, they'd become a midwife rather than a doula, so it may be hard to find a nurse-doula combo, though maybe you could find a midwife in training. Congrats on your little one on the way! 

    I highly recommend having a doula. I worked with Full Circle Doula Group (Berkeley-based, 3 women so someone is always available) and they were great. Truly made my labor fully manageable. Not necc to have your doula be a medical practitioner—you'll be surrounded by those anyway. 

  • Doula recommendation for Napa?

    (2 replies)

    Hi! I’m posting for my sister who lives in Napa and is having issues finding a doula willing to be in that area. If you have a recommendation of someone who might be willing to travel, please let me know! My sister is due end of March (I know there’s not much time)



    I saw your post and wanted to recommend my incredible Doula Katie Seifert. I'm not sure if she is able to travel but shes so amazing, cannot say enough good things about her. We had our baby last June and she was so helpful in the whole process and the birth. Her email is katiemseifert [at] and her website is

    Best Wishes to you and your family!

    Leah Ranahan

    Davon Crawford is a wonderful doula in Vallejo and may be willing to go to Napa. Worth asking!

  • Doula recommendation

    (5 replies)

    Hi,I 'm looking for a double to help as I have a toddler and I'm about to give birth for my second one. Any recommendations? Thank you. 

    Jessica Garcez is amazing! 

    I could not have done an unmediated birth without her.

    I have a long list of amazing doulas but I worked with and loved Celia Donaldson - - good luck!

    We worked with and absolutely loved Maureen Layag - would highly recommend!

    Susan Parkinson is wonderful!

    I loved my doula and recommend her highly. Her name is Crystal Yescas and you can reach her at crystalmichelle.birth [at] or 310-755-4334. Tell her Jessica & Toby sent you. I'm also happy to answer any questions about my experience working with her. Best of luck. 


  • Expecting my first baby in March and looking into hiring a doula to support me & my partner during birth. Any recommendations would be appreciated!

    We worked with Maureen Layag for my June delivery at Alta Bates and we LOVED her. She was the perfect mix of supportive, knowledgeable and practical - my husband and I were both so grateful to have had her support both during and after the birth.

    I highly recommend Lori Jaffe. She was my postpartum doula but wish I had been able to hire her for my birth!

    Hi and congratulations! 

    We worked with the wonderful Elyse, if she isn't available I'm sure she can recommend other incredible doulas. 

    She truly made a difference in the preparation and the birth. 

    I hope it all goes well

    This is a good resource that I was able to find my doula through:

    We enthusiastically recommend Allison Stanton ( She helped us prepare for everything that came our way, even when a medical complication came up at the end of our pregnancy. She still knew how to help us feel comfortable and ready. She asked questions to help us get ready in ways we didn't know we needed. And when the baby finally came she set the right tone in the room and made sure my wishes were heard.

    Congratulations on your baby. Best of luck.

    Hi, congratulations!  Here's my personal experience:  When I was pregnant it was very important to me to have a doula.  I had a vaginal delivery at Alta Bates with my partner and doula for support.  After the fact, I felt like it was a mistake to have hired the doula and regretted it a bit.  If I have another baby at Alta Bates, I am not planning to hire a doula.  Of course, I can't speak to what my experience would have been without a doula so I guess you have to take this with a big grain of salt.  The L&D nurses at Alta Bates are very experienced and very good.  I actually felt like having the doula there prevented me from fully connecting with the main nurse on each shift and taking advantage of what THEY had to offer.  The doula I hired had many amazing reviews but I ended up feeling a little let down by some aspects of her support while I was at Alta Bates.  Whether or not you have a doula with you for your labor, I encourage you to ask for what you want.  If you want the doula to do something differently, ask for it.  If you want the nurse to stay with you as much as possible, ask for it!  More popsicles - ask for it! Etc etc.

  • Looking for a doula for UCSF birth

    (5 replies)


    I am expecting my first child on January 25th. I have just begun my search for my doula, but have yet to find "the one" and am looking for recommendations! My husband and I live in Alameda and will be giving birth at UCSF. Some qualities that I am looking for in a doula: someone with an extensive background (as far as both education and experience), offers placenta encapsulation, and ideally has a background or knowledge with hypnobirthing. Thank you for your help! 

    Hi! Sorry, no recommendations here, but I just wanted you to keep in mind that many hospitals are only allowing 1 support person to stay with you during labor- no trading in/out. Depending on the covid situation they may allow 2, but it’s dynamic. So as you interview potential doulas be sure to ask what the expectation is, if that happen. 

    I am currently working with Ilka Fanni for my upcoming birth. Though I cant tell how things will go during birth, I can already recommend Ilka based on her prenatal visits thus far. She is super warm, gentle and supportive. Please check her website:

    Happy Birth :) 

    I highly recommend Jennifer Light.  A trained doula.  A gem of a person; intuitive, responsible, kind, loving and present. 

    Her phone number : 510-207-5078 Good luck.  And happy Birth

    We recently went through Doulas by the Bay and had a positive experience!They can connect you with doulas that have a range of different experience, education, birth philosophies,etc, that are available around your due date. The company is based in SF so I'd imagine a lot of the doulas would be available for a UCSF birth. I ended up giving birth 2 months early with an emergency c-section, but our doula provided great support to myself and my husband virtually. 

    I loved Renata Provost ( and She provided incredible support when I gave birth to our son in 2018. Back then, she had already assisted in over 250 births, so she's extremely experienced.  Renata is a calm, joyful, and wonderful presence and I can't say enough good things about her. 

  • Looking for a queer/LGBTQ doula

    (7 replies)

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a queer/LGBTQ or LGBTQ-friendly birth and postpartum doula in the East Bay? Thanks so much!

    Try Michi Arguedas or Rebecca Orozco, they were my amazing doulas! Both queer and have served queer families. My prenatal time, labor and postpartum with them was a wonderful experience. I was cared for and loved on, and my baby and family too. 

    I've done some volunteer work with a few people from Roots of Labor and based on conversations with them, they seem to have a great focus on LGBTQ+ accessibility to doulas and doula services, and I know there are some LGBTQ+ folks who are doulas there.

    We had a great experience with Born Collective SF (   They are definitely queer/LGBTQ friendly--both of the doulas who worked with us identify as queer -- although I should say that my partner and I are a straight couple.  They work with East Bay clients.  Brooke attended our birth and was amazing,  I couldn't recommend them highly enough! 

    She's not based in the East Bay but we worked with Cherie Lockwood ( We're based in Oakland and gave birth at Kaiser Oakland.

    I highly recommend Celia Donaldson

    Hi there! I highly recommend getting in touch with Molly Escobar. My family and I just worked with her and she is AMAZING! Her attitude, demeanor and expertise made my challenging birth more smooth and dare I say enjoyable than I could ever imagine. She is also a certified lactation consultant, doula and LGBTQ Educator & Doula. She came highly recommended from a friend who works in the childcare arena and I'm so glad we were able to work with her. She also does complimentary consultations so you can get to know her and ask questions. 

    Here's her contact information, feel free to reach out if you have more questions.

    I strongly recommend Shoshana Friedman-Hawk and Sarah Goldfine - they work as a team, both meet with you for pre and post-natal visits and one attends the birth. They were such an important and valuable part of my pregnancy and birth, offering holistic support through post-partum. They are a lovely presence during this special time. Incredibly knowledgeable and responsive across the key dimensions of pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. They genuinely seek to understand you in a non-judgemental way to best support and are woven into the fabric of the East Bay birth community so they have a pulse on everything from hospital practices to local resources. I trust them both completely. Best of luck in your doula search!

    Shoshana (shoshana [at]" href="mailto:shoshana [at]" target="" title="shoshana [at]" rel="nofollow">shoshana [at]


  • we are looking for a birth duola to help us at the end of January. Need recommendations near Oakland/Berkeley.

    Cheka Brown was our doula, and my husband and I both really liked her. We found her through the Full Circle Group, they recommended her while they were on hiatus. Cheka’s direct number is 510-421-1616.

    Congrats and best wishes,


    We loved Renata Provost:

    She gives a lot of useful information beforehand (I found her sessions more helpful than the birth class I attended) and she is amazing, very hands-on at the birth. Thanks to Renata I had the medication-free, complete present and awake birth I wanted. She will support the kind of birth you want and show up fully for that, while also being flexible if needed. 

  •  Hi,

    My partner and I are on the search for a birth Doula that we can hire to help us at Alta Bates hospital at the end of April 2019.  We are looking for mostly help with massage during labor.  Any suggestions you can give us would be great.



    We gave birth to our little girl at Alta Bates in September and had a great experience with Amanda Kessner: amanda [at] 

    I go to Liz Finkel for prenatal massage and she is great. She is also a birth doula. I know that she is moving some time in May, so depending on your due date she might not work, but you could talk to her and see if she has availability. Her website is:

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! Totally recommend Vanessa Norton - she was amazing, very supportive, non-judgmental (I opted for a c section after 3 days of labor at home ...), down to earth, very knowledgable.

    I used Laura Howells for my delivery at Alta Bates. I interviewed several doulas, but her background is massage was the key selling point. I did a package that included several pre-natal massages and a post-natal massage. Those pre-natal sessions helped her get to know where I hold tension and my major pain points. The moment she walked into my delivery room, she put down her bag and immediately started massage work to relieve my tension. She has transitioned more into lactation consultant work, but still does massage and set up a group of doulas she works with.

    Hi!  I loved working with Susie Galloso (I delivered at ALTA bates), she is a wonderful doula and massage therapist, I recommend her highly!

    Michelle Puckett is fantastic!

    I worked with Jessica Catano ( - she is primarily a massage therapist first and doula second, and her massage was very helpful, especially for my second labor. She has a super calming presence - she doesn't take on very many clients but she may be available  - good luck to you!

    I would highly recommend Amber Pearson. She is experienced, compassionate and very knowledgeable about birth and postpartum recovery. She has successfully helped to delivered hundreds of babies and only encountered one c-section. I know she will be a great fit for you. Her contact is amberloopearsonrebirth [at] Tell her Ania sent you! Good luck! 

    Liz Finkel is great! I just delivered at Alta Bates with her early Feb. Unmedicated and super smooth birth. She's a massage therapist too.

    Hi Kirsten, my partner and I used Allison Stanton ( for my daughter's birth last October. The moment Allison arrived my pain went down - it was like magic! She has a lot of skills in her toolbox, including massage. She also created a little photo album for us which we really like. Highly recommend! Good luck finding somebody!



    I highly recommend Renata Provost. She was my doula for the delivery of our daughter in late November. We became acquainted with her via a friend who had used her services the year prior. 

    I also recommend Allison Stanton, and she assisted in my delivery in Dec 2018 at Alta Bates, and was wonderful. 

  • We are new to Berkeley Parents Network and really excited to join this community. We are looking for a birth doula, but also interested in night support post birth. Does anyone have any experience working with the same person for both? We are lucky to live in an area where there are so many doula services out there- it is a tad hard to wrap my head around it all. With that said, I would love to hear from this community on:

    - Have any of you worked with a birth doula that also then supported you at night for 2-4 weeks following birth? If so, any recommendations? 

    - Any advice on how to navigate the doula world? Or is it really just a rabbit hole of research? 

    - Any recommendations on what birthing classes my husband and I should take? Looking to build my mom community, learn about childbirth/CPR, and lean all the 'fun' childbirth things I don't know, but need to know :)  {Loving Arms orThen Comes Baby?}

    I know you are all busy people, so thank you in advance for your help.

    I was asking these questions about 2 years ago and got some great support here on BPN, so I thought I'd chime in quickly with my experience (active toddler, permitting). :-)

    I worked with an incredible birth doula, but she is now in school to become a midwife (bummer, we are expecting #2 now)!  I was going down the rabbit hole of online research, but on a whim, went to the free Doula event at Then Comes Baby.  That was such a good choice. They weren't "sales-y" in their approach, and they took it more as a time to educate us about what a doula does and doesn't do.  Plus, an eye-opener for me, the roles of the various people involved in a hospital birth (we were at Alta Bates) and the difference between midwives and OBs.  We met several lovely doulas there and chose the one that felt like the right vibe, that both me and my husband felt we could work with if the S#** hit the fan, so to speak.  Going there was SO MUCH easier than what I did (digging through the interwebs) and my only regret is that I wasn't referred there sooner. They still do it and I am going to go back to that event since my doula isn't available now and I am expecting again!

    From that event, I decided to give Then Comes Baby a shot and took their prenatal yoga with Torrey (she's awesome), then I joined the 4-week birth class with Anna (another gem), and the Breastfeeding class (I forget the teachers name, but I learned a lot).  Between the yoga classes and the birth class, I really found that "mom" community you were talking about.  And, two+ years later, that's what is still going strong.  We were pretty new to Oakland when we got pregnant, and making friends there was the real game changer, for both me and my (kinda busy/ distracted/ shy) husband.

    The East Bay is awesome and has much to offer on this front. I found it a bit dizzying, honestly, for my first baby. I also heard nice things about Loving Arms, but their birth class was longer than we had time for at the time with our commutes and busy pre-baby prep.  I'm sure they're great, though! 

    We took our birth class at Birthways in Berkeley and are still friends with all the other couples 2 full years later (just went through the string of 2-year-old birthday parties :)). We found the class to be very personal and in-depth while providing a decent balance of outlining both "traditional" modern birth and "natural" birth options. We watched videos of a C-section, epidural birth, water birth, home birth, etc. While the information the instructor provided was *slightly* biased toward assumptions of parents wanting a less-interventionist birth (making sure we knew we could decline eyedrops & Vitamin K shot, discussing risks of epidural, etc.), we never felt like she was trying to push us one way or the other in our birth experience.

    We found our doulas at a Birthways "Meet the Doula" event, which I would highly recommend (it's basically doula speed-dating :)) We ended up working with Shoshana Friedman-Hawk and Lori Jaffe for our birth; they are a team who both attend prenatal and postpartum visits and then trade off on "on-call" weeks for births (all doulas have backups b/c it is impossible for 1 person to be on-call constantly -- their arrangement means that you will never have a stranger show up at your birth). Lori was the one who attended our daughter's very LONG birth (induction resulting in multiple days of labor) and she was great; coaching my husband about when he needed to take a break/nap, rubbing my back during back labor, and even taking some really beautiful pictures immediately after the birth.

    I know Lori also does postpartum work, including overnight work, though we didn't take advantage of that particular service. But I cannot recommend her highly enough as a birth doula, so I'm sure she is wonderful with postpartum as well!

    Happy to provide more info if needed -- feel free to PM me.

    I would recommend evaluating if a night doula is really the right fit for you.  If you are breastfeeding, and won't be supplementing with formula at night, I frankly don't think it would help.  Most of my moms group has discussed that this is an alluring concept - someone else can feed and hold and rock baby so you can get a couple 4-hour stretches! - but if you are nursing, and you're trying to build your supply, you will still be getting your sleep in one-hour chunks between 45-min feeding sessions and 15 minutes to fall back asleep, then lather-rinse-repeat.   That said, our son would only sleep on our chests for his first 3.5 weeks of life, so we did fly out my mom, and she took a couple 'holding' shifts between 2.00 - 6.00am so we could both sleep for the hour the baby slept.  Keep in mind that you'll be paying $80/hour with 4-hour minimums to spend 2 of those 4 hours nursing and holding your baby yourself.   If you are lucky to have a baby with a big stomach who is a big eater & good sleeper, you can potentially be on a "Babywise" 3-hour schedule earlier on, and have baby sleeping 4-hour stretches at night, in which case having a night doula take the middle of the night feeding with formula might give you 6 or 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep - which could be amazing.  But you won't know if this is your baby until he or she is born.  So I would recommend doing a little diligence and potentially interviewing folks, but not committing yourself to a huge financial cost until you know if this service will actually meet your needs.   In our case, paying for a relative's flight and hotel for a week a month for the first 3 months (lined up with the difficult 'wonder weeks') was a fraction of the cost of a doula and more helpful.  The first 6-8 weeks are incredibly difficult and sleep-deprived, and extra hands are invaluable, but given the tremendous cost of a night doula, you should evaluate if the benefit is actually significant enough to justify the cost!

    As a doula myself, I have very high standards haha. Tabitha Ames was my doula for both babies, and I can't recommend her enough. ( I'm happy to get on the phone and share my experiences with her. She also offers childbirth and breastfeeding education.

    As far as navigating the doula world, there are SO MANY doulas now! Which is great, because that means there is a doula that will be a good fit for every family. Word of mouth, yelp, and even checking with your OB or Pediatrician for names they've heard or worked with is a good way to start. 

    Just wanted to chime in on the cost of a night doula, as I saw a reply that quoted $80 per hour for night doula services, which is either a mistake or an outlier doula who charges way more than average. I used several night doulas when my kids were born in 2014 and 2017, and the fees ranged from a low of $27 per hour to a high of $40 per hour. All we're certified postpartum doulas. I've never heard of a night doula charging $80 per hour, although I suppose they're out there. Certainly would be unusual though. 

    I found the night doulas I used to be absolutely invaluable. My kids needed a lot of soothing to go back to sleep between feedings and I literally would not have slept at all for the first few months if I'd had to do a 45 minute feeding every two hours, plus an hour of bouncing/rocking, then maybe 15 minutes when I could put the baby down and close my eyes before the next feeding. After the first two weeks when my milk supply was well established and the babies were confirmed to be gaining weight well, I started pumping a bottle of milk for the doula to give so I could skip a whole feeding and actually sleep a six hour stretch. I don't know how anyone does it without help unless they have a super easy baby or very committed family members who are themselves willing to give up a lot of sleep. 

  • I am looking for recommendations for a good and affordable doula in the Oakland area for the birth of my first child in late March.  I'd also consider someone in training who is looking for hours.

    I used Michelle Puckett at Creatrix and she was wonderful! My baby was born last June. Her rate seemed reasonable. 


    We used Blythe Lee who was amazing ( She does 3 "lessons" prior to the birth to both get to know you and help you understand what is happening during the birth. She also is great about preparing you for the unexpected. So if something happens during the birth, you are prepared to make those decisions.  She has also trained many of the doulas in the area. If you want to go with a trainee, I'm sure she could give you some recommendations as well.


  • Doulas and Hypno Birthing Classes

    (8 replies)


    I recently posted about birthing classes, so thank you everyone who chimed in - very helpful.  I think my husband and I have decided to try a natural birth, in the hospital.  But, I do think having a doula is a good idea.  If anyone has suggestions on a Doula they would highly recommend, please send a response.

    Also, given the natural birth approach, is anyone familiar with hypno birthing classes in the area?  Maybe the doula helps with this?  I did hear of one class taught by Kathy Woo... does anyone have experience with this class?

    Thank you!


    I am currently in Kathy Woo's class and I cannot reccomend it enough. 

    Im still pregnant so I can't speak to the efficacy of Hypnobirthing itself, but Kathy has given me so much information and confidence about the whole process. 

    I honestly don't understand how anyone could go into the birthing process without taking a class like Kathy's!!!

    She is so funny, relatable and knowledgeable I wish she was still doing Doula work! 

    I am not using a doula, my husband is very confident after this class that he'll be able to play that role. 

    Hi there! I just wanted to respond to recommend my doula who was absolutely amazing. I met her through Birthways meet the doula night and felt an instant connection with her. Her name is Shoshana Friedman Hawk and you can check her out on

    Hi Andrea,

    While I did not use Yume as my doula, I did utilize her for accupuncture to try to induce my labor naturally. You can learn more about her here:

    She was very responsive and I would be open to using her as my doula for future pregnancies. 

    I recently had a natural birth at Alta Bates that was attended by one of their staff midwives, my husband and my doula (who I would recommend, but this is not her usual line of work). If you have any questions I'd be more than happy to chat or type with you about the experience. 

    All the best,


    Hi Andrea,

    I highly recommend Blythe Lee of 3 Daughters Doula. In addition to delivery, she does 3 prenatal visits and talks about the process in a very scientific and engaging way. Then 1-2 postpardum visits.  She is so warm and easy to connect with. Both my husband and I felt like we had known her for years after our first meeting. She worked with the hospital staff very well and they were happy to have her help.  Happy to give more details if you want to message me personally.


    I can recommend Judy Sarna - (contact judysarna<at>icloud<dot>com):  She is a DONA Certified Doula/Postpartum Doula, and also a certified HBCE (HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator).  She was recommended to me by my friend, who is also a childbirth educator.   I worked with her during my Postpartum period, and she was so great that I wished I had known for before my birth! 

    I highly recommend Britt Urban. I worked with her for the birth of my son in March and had a wonderful experience.

    i would highly recommend Shoshana Friedman-Hawk and Lori Jaffe. They work as a team and were absolutely incredible. Working with Shoshana and Lori was the single best decision that we made in creating our birth plan. From the expert and thoughtful pre and post natal support and education that they provided, to the immense support throughout labor, we couldn't be more grateful. 

    Shoshana was on call when I went into labor 2 weeks early. She was the first call that I made, and helped me find a sense of calm, remain grounded and take the steps that I needed to when my mind was in a million places. This was the case throughout the entire process. Shoshana provided steady, grounded and comforting support during the most vulnerable time in my life. She had a fabulous way of helping me mentally reframe the pain into positivity in regards to the baby progressing just the way she should be and making her way down to greet the world. She created a sense of excited anticipation in a time that I could have easily gotten mentally lost in the pain. Shoshana was incredibly empowering. She was steady and comforting and knew just the techniques to manage the pain, distract me when necessary, and even managed to make me laugh during labor. 

     While Lori wasn't on call when we went into labor, she was a wealth of knowledge during our pre and post natal visits, not to mention that she also stopped in twice throughout labor and brought so much warmth and support with her. We felt so genuinely cared for, and Lori went above and beyond.  Shoshana and Lori are a fantastic team and we felt like they had become part of our family throughout the process of working with them. We will absolutely be wanting to work with them again if the opportunity presents itself.

    I worked with Lori Jaffe as a postpartum doula, though she is also a birth doula. She was a rock-steady presence for me as I navigated those disorienting first few weeks and months of parenthood. Her calmness and confidence with a baby was a comfort and an education to me. I learned innumerable tips from her every time she came over, and I also felt totally secure leaving my baby in her capable hands as I took the time to do some things for myself. I appreciate that Lori is good mix of spiritual and practical -- she prefers natural methods as much as possible, but also puts a premium on what's safe and (every new parent's urgent need) what actually *works* for your baby. It's clear that she really cares for each baby she works with, as she still checks in with me and wants to know how my little boy is doing, even though she is no longer coming regularly to our house. Plus, she brings what moms of newborns often need most of all: good company!

    Lori also made a huge impact on childbirth for me, even though she was not officially my birth doula. When my water starting leaking early, she responded quickly to my texts and calls and guided us on how long to wait before going to the hospital. Because of her, I was able to wait, spend a quiet night at home, avoid the labor induction that the hospital wanted to give me, and deliver quickly and naturally when baby was ready.

    Lori is at

  • Hi,

    I am a 1st time mom due Nov 2nd, 2017. I am planning to deliver at UCSF Mission Bay even though I live in Berkeley. I am looking for a doula who would be open to a medicated birth plan.

    We loved our doula, Caitlin Morgan, at Embracing Birth SF. She was well priced, very professional, kind, and made us feel a lot better about the whole process leading up to and during the birth of our first child. She works with clients who go to UCSF; that's where we delivered. She is fine with all kinds of birth plans, including medication (which I used). She also has a nice bag of props that comes with her. :D

  • Hi,

    I am a 1st time mom due on April 15, 2017.  Looking for a doula who would be open to a medicated birth plan (meaning I'm not planning on a natural childbirth) at Kaiser Oakland.  Bonus if they work on a sliding scale.  Thanks in advance!

    Katie Cotterrell at katie [at] is wonderful and open to many different birth plans. Heart of gold and full of energy. She has tons of follow through and is a great communicator. 

    I was so happy with the doula I used. Her namis Renata Provost. She supported me before, during and after labor.  Having a medicated birth was in my birth plan but I believe because she helped make me informed and aware of my options, I ultimately didn't end up using an epidural. That said, she was completely supportive and non-jusgemenal in every way. She will help guide you through whichever path you choose. Her partner Stacy is also wonderful. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Her contact info is on Yelp.  


    We worked with the team of Shoshana Friedman-Hawk (shoshana [at] and Lori Jaffe (loridjaffe [at] and would recommend them, without reservation, to anyone :) We paid $1500; I'm not sure if they have a sliding scale option. Their model is that for that fee, you get 2 prenatal visits and one postpartum visit which both doulas attend, and then whoever is on call the week of your birth (they alternate) will attend for as much of your labor as you want them there for. Our daughter was born last August at Alta Bates; I was induced, was in the hospital for 3 1/2 days before baby was born, and Lori was at our beck and call the entire time! After I went into active labor, she never left our side. When I decided after a day and a half of contractions that I wanted an epidural (not part of my original birth plan) Lori was extremely supportive; both she and Shoshana are very clear that their role is to be there for you and the rest of your support team as you experience your birth, whether that birth is medicated, non-medicated, home birth or planned C-section. I am happy to answer specific questions off-list if it would be helpful. Good luck!

    We loved Stacia Biltekoff  She is involved at Birthways and knows lots of doulas, so she can probably help you find the right person, if it's not her.

    Martha Chavarin - 415-867-4611. She has 3 (older) children, and was my doula for both of my kids (born 11 years apart)

    I have used Tabitha Ames's services for both of my babies. The reason I loved her was because of her lack of judgement. I told her with my health needs, medical interventions may be necessary. She was so supportive. I was afraid and didn't want to step on her toes, but she came early into my induction. There wasn't much going on yet, but once she got there it really went quickly! It's like my body could relax once she got there. I did end up having a few interventions, and she was completely supportive of everything that happened, and encouraged me in just the ways I needed.

    She was incredibly great with the care team. There wasn't any awkward tension, and the nurses seemed to know and like her. My doctor also liked her. 

    I know she has gone to K-Oakland because some of my friends also birthed with her, and they were at KO. 

    There is so much more I could say about her. I love her so much, she will be at all of our births.

Parent Reviews

Congratulations on second pregnancy. I was in similar state (lots of anxiety) and used Rachel Yellin and a birth doula. I can’t recommend Meleah enough as a birth doula. She made my experience soo much better leading up to and on the day and has been a wonderful resource postpartum as well. I just kept repeating during my labor “this is so much better than the last time”. Im so glad I spent the money. I didnt have a birth doula for my first birth. You can reach her at meleah [at]

Hi there! Congrats on your upcoming delivery! I was so fortunate to find Jessica Catano and have her as my doula for both my kids births - plus she is a massage therapist which REALLY came in handy during my deliveries. is her website, she only takes on a few births a year - she is so CALM and peaceful and if you're lucky enough to book her she will be a HUGE help to you. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Doula who also takes good photos?

Sept 2014

Can anyone recommend a trained or in-training doula who also takes good photographs? Thank you! LZ

Britt Fohrman markets herself as both doula and birth photographer. I have really enjoyed her prenatal yoga classes and am considering using her as well. Al

I had a home birth 5 weeks ago and we had the most amazing doula! I cannot imagine going through labor without her. She was a huge support to my husband as well and they worked great as a team in supporting me. She also took great pics with our SLR camera! She is a newer doula and passionate about birth, I cant say enough amazing things about her. She actually just came over today to check in and gave me a four page birth story. It was so nice to read it and have that as a keepsake! Doula: Andrea Tyrrel douladre [at] Congratulations! Lindsay

Hi, I highly reccomend Hila Zohar as a doula. She is also a trained masseuse and acupuncturist. She was my doula at my home birth 6 months ago and I cant reccommend her highly enough. She was patient, calming and encouraging and gave the best massages to get me through back labor. Her number is (415) 573-4753 Good Luck! happy with my doula

I enthusiastically recommend Amanda Kessner, the wonderful doula who attended my daughter's birth this year. Amanda was a fantastic doula and has now become part of our family. She supported me, my husband, and our 3 year-old daughter through pre-natal appointments and the birth of our 2nd daughter. Amanda made the day of the birth fun for both my husband and me. Some of the things Amanda contributed to our birth: * Entertained our 3 year-old during pre-natal appointments
* Brought decorations and essential oils to the birth room at Alta Bates
* Told my husband and me hilarious stories while we were trying to get labor to speed up
* Helped me think through the decision (wise in retrospect) not to receive antibiotics during labor, despite Strep B positive tests
* Encouraged my husband not to leave the room for a phone call when active labor was beginning
* Held my hand through pushing
* Lent a calm, knowledgeable atmosphere to the birth
* Made me feel supported throughout the birth and after
* Proactively reached out to schedule post-natal time with both the baby and my daughter so that I could tidy up the house and actually shower without interruption. Her bio: I am a DONA International trained birth & postpartum doula with a background in Feminist Studies. As a doula, my goal is to be your pregnancy and birth advocate. I offer antenatal, birth, and postpartum support. I specialize in helping parents create a birth plan that honors their unique birth intentions. I bring a warm and calming presence to birth and pregnancy, as well as my breadth of experience with natural and hospital birth. I also offer a body positive approach to birth that celebrates size diversity. I am deeply inspired by the families I work with. I believe that birth is a sacred process. Your birth should be treated with the utmost respect and trust. I have 8 years experience working with mothers, infants, and newborns. I\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x99m a volunteer doula at San Francisco General Hospital and Homeless Prenatal Program. I am a member of The Swiss Cheese Childcare Collective and Imeinu Doulas, a Jewish doula collective serving Bay Area families. amanda.r.kessner [at] Delighted Mama (who also is named Amanda)

I highly recommend Megumi with Compassion Tree Mama Care. Her email is Megumi [at] She takes amazing pictures and got my son on the way out, it's one of my favorite pictures. it's like he's peeking out saying ''hello world!'' She's a very strong, grounding presence and gave me what I needed when I needed it. she also has a lot more to offer like massage, yoga/ dance classes, & has a lot of great information and referrals. happy mama

Doula for Sequoia Hospital Delivery

Aug 2014

We are excited to be expecting our first child in early February and looking for a doula to support us on this journey. Unfortunately, I just found out that my first choice doula doesn't have availability for my due date and I am hoping for recommendations for equally amazing doulas in the area (I live in Menlo Park and will deliver at Sequoia Hospital). I am planning on attending the meet the doulas nights at Blossom Birth and Stork & Sprout but would love to hear personal recommendations-especially from mammas who had unmedicated births. Thank you!! Rachel

Hi- I highly recommend Sandy Caldwell, who is based in Redwood City. She was our postpartum doula with our first child when we lived on the peninsula (we're back in the east bay now). She was such an amazing source of support- helping us build confidence in ourselves as new parents and showing us how to care for our preemie son in the early days. Though I haven't experienced a birth with Sandy- she's someone I'd want by my side. She has a wealth of knowledge and she listens to your needs, without pushing her own agenda or preferences. Her website is here: I believe she often attends the Blossom Birth 'Meet the Doula' nights, as well. Congratulations! Sarah

I live in Redwood City and delivered both kids at Sequoia Hospital using Stork & Sprout (Melissa both times). They were wonderful, you won't go wrong with them. I contemplated going unmedicated and found the nurses to be very supportive. The doula was also very supportive but open to whatever I wanted. Happy customer

Looking for an East Bay Doula, Kaiser WC

May 2014

Looking for an East Bay doula to support delivery at Kaiser Walnut Creek. My husband and I are beginning our search a little late, I realize, (baby due August 15), but we are taking Bradley Method classes and are looking for a little extra support when the baby arrives. We are open to doulas who offer more services, such as postpartum care or support after prenatal visits beginning the 28th week, (I'm 26 right now!) Thank you for your recommendations!

I highly recommend Lindsay Levesque. she has a wonderful presence, is very knowledgeable and is such an asset to birthing! You can find here website here: LD

Doula who works well with Kaiser Oakland L?

April 2014

I know there are lots of reviews of doulas in the archives, but it's hard to sort through. My husband and I will have our first child this fall, and will be giving birth at Kaiser Oakland (hopefully by then in their new facility - which I was told has all private roomes in labor and delivery). I think we'd like to hire a doula for labor support, since we'd like a calm, somewhat natural, but open to interventions/pain relief if I end up feeling like it's necessary, hospital birth. We'd like someone who would be available to come to our home in Oakland during early labor, and help us decide when to transfer, and come with us, to the hospital, when it's time. Some of our family members will probably also be present, and although austensibly there to support us, may actually need some herding/quieting down, etc to keep the situation non- stressful for us. Some of them, especially on my side can be high-maintenance and high-energy. Does anyone have recent experience with a doula that helped them with a Kaiser Oakland hospital birth? Also, any specific questions I should ask, or things to know about as I start my search? I've looked at Birthways list, but there are so many doulas, I have no idea where to start! Also what's the usual timeline for when to get interviewing? I feel like it's really far in advance still, but I don't want to miss our window of opportunity to hire someone we love if we wait too long. Thanks Sarah

A doula is a beyond-worthy investment! We had a great experience with our birth 1.5 years ago through using a doula group called whatadoula. I know the name is kind of funny, but the women in this group are so amazing and down to earth. They will come to your home for three prenatal appointments and help you create your birth plan. They are also there for you in navigating family that may need to me managed in one way or another and are on call for you and can come to your house in early labor if needed. You get to know the group of 3 of them so that you know for sure that you are comfortable and know whoever is on call. (When hiring one doula, if she can't make it for some reason, you may have a back-up doula you've never met.) they were also available for us by email throughout the pregnancy. This was incredibly helpful when during our last trimester, our doctor became overly concerned about the baby's size (despite all tests and monitorings being perfectly normal for me and baby!) as far as how early to hire? I think the earlier the better. If you're delivering in the fall, it is a busy time so doulas do book up. Plus, you'll have more time to receive their sage advice!! My next rec for a doula (we originally met her through whatadoula but she has since started an independent doula business) is Blythe Lee, 3daughtersdoula. She is extremely knowledgeable about pregnancy and birth and an overall sweet and awesome woman. Good luck in your search! Anon

Kaiser Oakland's new hospital will be opening in July so you will definitely be birthing in the new facility, and yes, all the rooms are private! But about doulas - there are many amazing doulas. Grace Bender was my doula and she was amazing: I suggest also going to a meet the doula night at Birthways and see who you click with. It's a gut thing - this person will see you at highs and lows you've probably never seen before yourself. You need to trust her. Doulas are used to having family around (tho check with Kaiser to see their rules on how many can be in a room), so I wouldn't worry about that. Check out this link for some questions to ask: but remember listen to your gut. Congratulations and have a happy, healthy birth! I see no reason to wait on this process, it may be early but it's nice to figure this stuff out sooner than later. L

We had a great experience with Stacy Hattori as a doula. She was an amazing coach for me during my very long, very intense labor. She was also a great coach for my husband as well. And, after delivery, we overheard several nurses and doctors ask for her card, and had one nurse tell us directly that she was such a terrific doula to see work. So, good reviews all around. I did end up having one dose of fentalyn (pain narcotic) during hour 12 of active labor, and she was helpful in aiding me understand the option and was totally not judgmental about my choice.

Our plan was for her to come to our house and labor there until it was time to go to the hospital, but an hour after I started having contractions, I was in active labor with 1 minute long contractions every 3 minutes, so we met at the hospital.

I recommend her without reservation. I do encourage you to interview multiple doulas so that you are confident that the person you find is right for you. In terms of when to interview, I'd say maybe after the first trimester. I know that Stacy gets booked up early, so for her early is good. --congratulations!

March 2014

Re: Natural Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland
Hi Jessica- I have not experienced child birth at Kaiser, however, I had a wonderful doula who assisted my husband and I with our natural homebirth. She is a wealth of knowledge and is currently in midwifery school. She has been a doula for many families both in and out of the hospital- and for both natural and medicated labors. Working with her enabled us to ask tons of questions and get thorough answers and prepped us for what was to come in labor. She is a massage therapist as well and knows many techniques for coping with the pain. She can also work with you and your partner to ensure you are prepared for any possible challenges you will face while striving for your natural birth. Her name is Grace Bender, she is located in Oakland - you can contact her directly: grey.cie [at] I can't recommend her enough, she is a great person to have on your team while coping with a natural labor and delivery! We love her! Brittany

Doula in Palo Alto area

Jan 2014

MY friend is due at the end of April and looking for a doula for her hospital birth in the Palo Alto area. Unfortunately she's low on funds so hoping to find a doula for low or no cost, including a doula-in- training. Anyone have recommendations? Thanks! Doulas Are Great!

I live in Redwood City and used a doula for my labor. She was wonderful, from However they aren't low cost, so I would recommend your friend check out Blossom Birth on California Avenue in Palo Alto. They have a list of doulas and regular Meet the Doula events. A Fan of Doulas

East Bay Doula who will labor in Mountain View?

Dec 2013

Hello: I live in Rockridge area of Oakland but my OB and hospital I will deliver at are in Mountain View at El Camino Hospital. I'm due 3/5. I want to have a natural birth and want early labor support at home and then transfer and Advanced labor /delivery support in Mountain View. Any suggestions or referrals would be a huge help! Thank you S.

Try Stacy Hattori of Tri Valley Doulas. She's based out of Livermore but is willing to travel and came to Alta Bates for my delivery. I can't say enough good things about her. Sharon

I can recommend Tabitha Ames as a great Doula in the East Bay. She was just what my husband and I needed during our birth. With her help, I delivered my 10 lb 4 oz baby with no drugs or interventions despite the doctor repeatedly trying to push her own agenda about speeding things up (my labor was only 5 hours long???). She was professional, flexible, knowledgeable, helpful and able to be there for what we needed as the need arose (instead of coming with her own idea about how things are 'supposed to' go). And she left her own children on Christmas Day for the birth (dedication)! I know she also helps train other doulas, so if she is booked maybe she has a good recommendation for you. Here's her contact: Tabitha Ames BS, CCCE, CLD, CPD, CLE CAPPA Faculty, Northern California Childbirth Educator Trainer BirthWays Vice President BirthWays Meet the Doulas Night Coordinator (925) 360-0817 Sarah C

Birth Doula Recommendations?

Sept 2013

Looking for a good birth doula in the East Bay...Any suggestions? Susie

Recommendation for Sarah Bolton The best decision I made during my pregnancy was to hire doula Sarah Bolton ( She provided me and my husband with wonderful mental, physical, and emotional support during my late pregnancy, labor and delivery, and our first weeks as parents. She helped me to think through tough decisions, cheered me on as I met medical challenges, and then actively worked with me during my actual labor at Kaiser Walnut Creek so that it was a positive experience for my family and me. Although we took the excellent Bradley Method course with Sabine Henri (also recommended) during my second trimester, it was the additional support of Sarah that made all the difference during my third trimester and my labor and delivery.

Sarah went above and beyond the services she agreed to in her contract, for a very reasonable fee compared to many other local doulas. She has an extensive background in massage therapy (so great during labor!) and degrees in exercise science and consciousness studies that give her skills beyond her more recent doula practice. Most importantly, Sarah is a kind, wise, smart, grounded woman--and a mom herself. My husband and I feel so very lucky that we found her. We recommend her without hesitation! Jennica

We used Deanna Jesus for the birth of my second. She was wonderful in helping me achieve the unmedicated, hospital delivery that I wanted. My babe was born at 42 weeks and 9lb 8oz with a head in the 99th percentile. I don't think I would have had the birth that I wanted had she not been there for me, supporting my decisions. I needed her support both in making my decision to not be induced (as one doctor wanted) at 41 weeks and for ideas to help get labor started naturally. She was awesome as I labored, rubbing my back, suggesting positions, and working with my husband as a labor team. I wish i had her for my first (way too many interventions) delivery. Congrats on your pregnancy and best of luck to you! Her number is 925.216.7624. Happy mama

I would like to recommend Cup of Tea Birth Doulas. The moment I met Caroline, I knew she was someone that my husband and I would both feel comfortable with assisting us during delivery. I gave birth to my first child in May, 2013. Naturally I was very, very nervous about what my expierence would be like. Thankfully I had a very quick V delivery and Caroline was by my side every moment supporting and helping me stay calm. Although my mother and husband were present, they ended up being more nervous and needing more attention than I they weren't as helpful as they should have been. It was great having someone there to fully focus on me and worked well with the nurses. If I could give Caroline a star rating with 5 being the highest, she would definitely receive 5 stars!! N.M.

My partner and I had Sarah Bolton as our birth doula (August 2013), and highly recommend her. Her passion for her work was evident from the start, and we found her to be a friendly, helpful and grounded presence during both our pre- and postnatal visits and labor itself.

Sarah has a gift for being attuned with the needs of her clients (both birthing mama and partner - and even our cat, who she kindly fed the morning of our baby\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x99s birth!) which shows in many ways, including in her very intuitive touch. (I got a wonderful prenatal massage from Sarah during my pregnancy as well and am so grateful that we had Sarah there with us during labor to help me cope with the pain of back labor.) Sarah was a supportive and calm presence throughout labor, and her curious, open approach put us at ease. Sarah was there with ideas or suggestions when we asked for them and also when I felt too overwhelmed to ask but needed help. She also worked in a way that supported my connection with my partner - gently helping her understand the process and try different ways of supporting me.

Sarah was a key ingredient in our happy homebirth, but if we\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x99d been at the hospital, I\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x99d have wanted her at my side there too, knowing she would help me and my partner create and maintain a safe space in which we could labor and birth in our own way. I recommend her most highly to anyone seeking to have kindhearted, steady, gentle, knowledgeable and reassuring support as they labor and birth. Her website is: -Anon

I recently had a baby and would highly recommend Deanna Jesus. She is very supportive of your choices and needs. Experienced, great energy, steady and wise. I do not know how I would have made it through without her. happy new mom

Looking for bilingual (English/Spanish) doula

Sept 2013

Hi parents, I'm 20 weeks pregnant (yay!) and looking for a supportive and experienced doula to assist me and my partner during the pregnancy and, particularly, the birth. My mom will be in town for the birth and she doesn't speak English, and my partner speaks very little Spanish, so it's important for the wonderful doula to be fully bilingual to communicate with all people involved. I will give birth at a hospital with a midwife but we would still love to have a doula with us. Please let me know if you know of anybody who would fit the bill! Maybe a doula who supported you during your pregnancy? Or your friend/relative? Thanks so much! Mama Pao

Amanda Nube is a bilingual English and Spanish doula. I met her at her prenatal and postpartum yoga classes at Yogakula a couple of years ago. Her website is Good luck! Amanda's former student

There are not words enough to convey how important and impressionable Francine Madrid ( was as our doula. My husband is from Mexico. He speaks English but feels more comfortable communicating in Spanish. Neither of our mothers could attend the birth of our son in May. And while I have family in the area that he gets along with great, nobody speaks Spanish. I knew it was important to have a Spanish-speaking doula present in case of an emergency (''which isn't going to happen'' I would tell everyone). In the end, I was in labor for three days and had a traumatic vacuum extraction ending. Not only was I incredibly thankful that we had Francine there to support my husband through his days of phone calls and tension but her training as a masseuse combined with her experience as a doula ended up being priceless. On day 4, when my son was in the NICU with his dad, the hospital room had cleared out, and she was saying good bye after 30 some hours of being by my side, there was no doubt that this woman was nothing short of AMAZING. I can't recommend enough that you at least interview her. Her services also include a pre-natal massage and group classes. Best of luck, M, C y V

Doula for CPMC delivery

Aug 2013

Hi there, I am currently due in mid August. I am really thankful that it has been an easy pregnancy so far, and I am hoping to work with a doula for a natural birth at the hospital. While we live in Oakland, we are delivering at CPMC in San Francisco. My husband is traveling a bit for work so I would love to find a doula that is able to come to our house and take me to the hospital in the event that my husband isn't here when I go into labor. I would also love to have a doula that has some training in massage and other relaxation techniques to help with pain management.Finally, I definitely would love a doula that is a team player and that would get along with the nurses and doctor and I don't have to feel stressed with any tension between the doula and the nurses or doctors. I am obviously doing this really late, so any advice would be incredibly appreciated!

Deanna Dawson-Jesus of Birthing Babies ( is amazing. Since the birth of our daughter, 9 months ago, two of our friends have also used her and loved her! We originally met Deanna through the 'Meet the Doula Night' at Day One in Walnut Creek. We interviewed a number of doulas and felt that she provided the best information -- from all sides / options -- while supporting our decisions. She was available and met with us a number of times prior to the birth and on the big day was critical in helping us bring our baby girl in to the world through a natural birth with no drugs. She was an advocate during key parts of the delivery in a firm but non-threatening manner with the hospital team. She kept me very focused through the rough spots and provided necessary relief and guidance to my husband. I can't recommend her support services enough and found the same feedback when I interviewed her references. Megan

Amazing is the best was to describe our experience working with Francine Madrid. After the fact, I discovered something pretty incredible about doulas - you meet with your doula only a handful of times before they share one of the most, if not thee most, momentous occasion of your life with you. My husband's native language is Spanish (mine is English) so I was hoping in case of emergency ('not that there was going to be one', I told everybody) we would have a doula who was bilingual. There are surprisingly few Spanish-English bilingual doulas in the area and we could not have been more pleased, comforted and supported by Francine. Her calm and reassuring manner never faltered during what ended up being somewhat of a traumatic ending to my delivery after all. She was with us for over 30 hours. Francine went beyond expectation in every regard including the ways she helped relieve my pain. She was a friend and confidant to my partner (and will be to you and yours in English or Spanish). Further, it sounds kind of silly putting this in writing but she made me feel proud of myself for my efforts and my decisions throughout my labor and delivery in a way that I would have expected my mother to, if she were still alive. As someone who prefers homeopathic remedies, I also appreciate Francine's vast knowledge in this area. She pulled together a mean sitz bath from plants we have in our own backyard! Francine also offers massage and group prenatal classes as part of her service. Best to you!

Available & Recommended Doulas for 9/13 Due Date

Aug 2013

We recently decided to find a doula for my 2nd child who is due quite soon (9/13), but I've found that the ones recommended by friends are either booked or on vacation. I'd love recommendations for doulas who may be available on such short notice! Or if you are an available doula, please contact me as well.

I had a long labor with my first (52 hours) 6 years ago and although I'm not fearing labor this time, I think the extra support and knowledge would be a welcome help! I'd like someone experienced, down-to-earth with a great sense of humor, who preferably has given birth herself. I'd also like this person to be available post-birth for at-home breastfeeding support.

We live in San Leandro & plan on delivering at Kaiser Hayward. Melissa

Deanna Dawson-Jesus of Birthing Babies ( is amazing. Since the birth of our daughter, 9 months ago, two of our friends have also used her and loved her! We originally met Deanna through the 'Meet the Doula Night' at Day One in Walnut Creek. We interviewed a number of doulas and felt that she provided the best information -- from all sides / options -- while supporting our decisions. She was available and met with us a number of times prior to the birth and on the big day was critical in helping us bring our baby girl in to the world through a natural birth with no drugs. She was an advocate during key parts of the delivery in a firm but non-threatening manner with the hospital team. She kept me very focused through the rough spots and provided necessary relief and guidance to my husband. I can't recommend her support services enough and found the same feedback when I interviewed her references. Megan

We cannot recommend Anna Mahony ( enough to be a team member on your birth team. But one warning: she will become a family member (Aunt Anna!) to your family, just as she has to ours.

When we hired Anna as our doula, we had high expectations. Anna set regular appointments at our home to prepare for what we hoped would be an easy and straight forward labor. It took our son almost 48 hours to emerge, and throughout this truly laborious labor, Anna was a steady, calming, loving figure who guided me through every step and stage of the process. Her knowledge of calming positions and soothing tricks made every contraction a ton easier. Anna had an innate sense of exactly what was needed from me, from my husband, and from her during each step of labor, and she acted in a swift but calm manner to ensure that everything was as easy as possible. She interfaced professionally and simply with each medical professional who took care of us, and she knew when and how to signal to us that we may want some time alone to discuss the necessary deviations from our birth plan.

We were so grateful to have an advocate, friend, professional, child expert, mother expert, and all-around awesome doula aboard our birth team. Kim

Cantonese speaking doula

May 2013

A good friend of mine is looking for recommendations for bilingual Cantonese speaking doulas who work in the East Bay. My friend is pregnant with her first baby and due in September. She will be delivering at Kaiser Oakland or Kaiser Walnut Creek. She and her husband have decided to hire a doula to help her and her husband with the birth. However, she is also planning to have her mother -- who is a monolingual Cantonese speaker -- in the labor/delivery room with her. As such, she is hoping to find a doula who can communicate with both her/husband/hospital staff as well as her mother. Does anyone have any recommendations for bilingual doulas who speak both English and Cantonese? Amy

You might try calling the Birth Center at San Francisco General Hospital. They offer doulas to their multi-lingual patients, and might be able to recommend a Cantonese speaking one for you. JK

Low cost doula in the East Bay

April 2013

We're looking for a low-cost, but well trusted Doula in the East Bay area. I've heard there are a few out there willing to offer services free/donation-only. We've recently moved to the Bay area from DC and are looking for some solid recommendations in a time crunch. First baby due in June. Thanks! FTM in Oakland

I highly recommend Jenna Forder 510 909 8763. I had a homebirth and now have a one month old daughter. Jenna was instrumental in guiding her into the world. Her expertise and support were just what my husband and I needed. We did childbirth prep with her. She is very knowledgeable about pre/postnatal nutrition, childbirth prep, and an aspiring midwife. She does homebirths and hospital births. She is still providing us with excellent postpartum doula care. Please contact me if you would like more info. Blessings on your pregnancy. nicole

My husband and I are very grateful that we had Carrie as our doula. Carrie combines enormous wisdom, experience, professionalism and a great deal of human kindness in her work and was a joy to have with us. In addition to her extraordinary skills as a doula she is a also quite skilled in taking care of recuperating mothers and was very helpful to me. I have been incredibly fortunate to have Carrie with me to guide me through all of the practical skills and most importantly to give me time to heal and to encourage me every step of the way. She is incredible.... more specifically, she is gifted with the ability to take care of (preemie) twins, and teach parents the essentials skills they need to be competent parents. In addition, Carrie is such a pleasure to be with- always has a fantastic attitude and completely focused on what is best for the babies. I was amazed at her composure and professionalism at all times. We will be forever grateful for having Carrie in our lives. She is absolutely amazing! Contact: Carrie at--- daysnsleepynitezzz [at]

Low cost doula services in South Bay Area?

April 2013

Hello. Is anyone aware of any low cost doula services available in the South Bay? Perhaps someone who is training to be a doula? My husband and I live in San Jose. We're expecting our first baby in August. I'm hoping to have a natural birth and would like to work with a doula, but finances are a constraint. Thanks for the information! momtobe

Hi, I just moved from the south bay eight months ago. Unfortunately, I don't have a name of a doula, but know how you can find one. Have you checked out Harmony Birth in Campbell or Blossom Birth in Palo Alto? You can google them if you haven't been or heard of them. They both offer a meet the doula night. You can attend those and ask around. Or just call/visit either place and ask the people working there. There is also: They just had an event yesterday (sorry I didn't send this sooner), but there is a database to search for providers in the birth field. Good luck! Kristen

Seeking affordable doula for Alta Bates delivery

March 2013

Hi, My husband and I are looking for an affordable doula who has experience with births at Alta Bates. My due date is mid-April so a doula who is available to take on new clients now is essential. We took a zen birthing class with Betsy Appel and we have a birth plan for a natural child birth. However, given that this is our first child, we'd like a doula to help us in this process and be our advocate in regards to the staff/protocols of the hospital. Thank you

I highly recommend Conny Golhke 527-9757. She is wonderfully supportive, and able to help you get to Alta Bates at a good point of labor. Also, she is very creative and can make you a personal and tasteful DVD of your baby's birth. Been There

I highly recommend Sadie Cooper Bates of Bloom Birth. She was my doula for my first child, I too had the same concerns as you do about hospital birth and Sadie was the calm, nurturing and strong presence I needed. I also loved her partner/backup doula Francine as well. I cannot recommend them both enough!! Happy Mama

Kim Winkleman is a lovely doula in Berkeley With experience at Alta Bates. She can be found on Yelp and at Kim.winkleman [at] Anon

I can't even imagine my birthing experience without my doula. She was amazing- stayed with me the whole 40 hours of laboring it took to bring my child into the world. She offers pre-natal yoga, meditation, literature, videos and general support (doctor visits, labor classes companionship, long walks around Lake Merritt). After the birth she did post natal visits and was a sounding board for my post-pardem concerns which, as a new mom, were many. She leans more towards natural birth but is also very open and supportive of the mom-to-be's choices. Because my husband and I are nurses, we were inclined to go the full ''medical'' route. She helped us become informed (we knew very little)and together we created an empowering birth plan. She's worth every cent and more. She's also surprisingly affordable considering how much doulas charge around here. Bonus: she speaks Spanish which was necessary for me (my latino parents needed support while their only daughter gave birth) and, in a pinch, she has watched my little girl while Mommy and Daddy took much needed ''grown up'' time. There are exactly 2 people I trust with my girl in the East Bay- my husband and my doula! Call her- she's worth meeting. Her name is Mariana Reyes and number is (561)762-9455 Jennifer

I recommend Julia MacMillan without reservation. She was an amazing support to my whole family and I couldn't imagine my birth without her. She was not inexpensive but her services were worth every penny. Rachel T

Hi there I would highly recommend Francine Madrid for doula and prenatal massage services. My husband and I had a great experience working with her in November 2012 and we had a natural birth at Kaiser Oakland. Best wishes, Heather

We had a good experience with Stephanie Mackley. She's smart, enthusiastic, and respectful. She did a nice job helping us with decisions as my labor went on (when we were at a crossroads and had to pick between different alternatives, it was really nice talking to her about our options), and she really shone during the very painful active labor period of the birth. She knew just what to do. My husband and I agreed that our labor experience would have been frustrating, scary, and confusing without her. When she was our doula, she was still working on getting officially certified, so she was much more affordable than the others we looked at. Whoever you go with, I think it's important that you feel like you're a good match after the initial meeting. You're going to spend some pretty intense time with this person, and it's important you're very comfortable.

We also met with another doula to see if we liked her. She was friendly and very competent. Stephanie felt better for us, but you could try Shannon Padlog, too. Someone I trust also recommended Jenny Sweicicki at jennyrebeccajsj [at] - Glad I had a doula

I highly recommend the doula services of Francine Madrid ( Not only was she amazingly supportive at my birth last August, she also gives relaxing prenatal massages that release tension and stress from the body, she led a super informative and emotionally transformative Birthing From Within workshop series, and she processed my placenta into pills and a tincture for me. What I truly appreciate about Francine Madrid is that she supports women and their partners in having an empowering birthing experience by listening, guiding with experience, and honoring the sacredness of this process. I hope you invite her to be apart of your birthing experience because it will truly help! Haleh

I would like to recommend Sadie Cooper (, 510-219-7696). Sadie is a wonderfully warm, calm, experienced and skillful doula. She clearly loves the birthing process and is dedicated to the art of helping women and their partners navigate all the twists and turns that often come with labor and delivery. Sadie gave my husband and me the courage and energy to get through five days of laboring at home and be fully present at our baby's birth at the hospital. sophy

Bilingual Spanish Speaking Doula?

Feb 2013

Any recommendations for bilingual spanish speaking doulas in the East Bay? My cousin will be birthing at Kaiser Walnut Creek so if they have experience with this facility, that would be great as well! thank you. vanessa

I would recommend Mariana Reyes! She is a fantastic doula and yoga instructor, and is fluent in both English and Spanish. You can email her here: omyogabayarea [at] Tabitha

I loved our Doula and she is bilingual. Michelle Borok of Nourish Midwifery Highly recommended. Happy new momma

Doula supportive of an epidural

Feb 2013

I will be giving birth to my second child in a few months, and we would like to have a doula support us through the process as we did with our first child. Our previous doula is in Sacramento, so I need a recommendation for someone to support a birth at Alta Bates. However, I do plan on having an epidural, so I'm hoping to find someone who is supportive of my husband and me and our decision. We really value the assistance that a doula provides, and we know we wouldn't have managed our last birth experience without our doula's excellent help. Is there someone in the area who can be supportive yet non-judgemental about my decision? Soon-to-be-Mom of 2

I recommend doula Erin Crowe (510) 654-9096 She is amazing and has been a doula for a long time. I had an epidural at Oakland Kaiser. She is also very familiar with Alta Bates. Debbie

A doula who's also a midwife

Oct 2012

Hi, We are expecting our first baby in December 2012 and are hoping to find a doula who's also a midwife (that way, her services would be covered by our insurance). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

hi there. i work with excellent midwives on a regular basis who also offer monatrice services (a midwife who acts as a doula)- Juli Tilsner and Deborah Simone at Awakenings Birth Services. They are incredibly knowledgeable, supportive, and experienced. you can find them at Jill

Several years ago, Esther Healey (formerly Schmidt) was our doula. At the time she was in midwifery training and now she is a midwife (but also still provides doula services). I highly recommend her - she was extremely knowledgeable, supportive, calm, and offered a great balance of practical knowledge and wisdom. Mama

Saw the recommendation for Awakenings and I felt compelled to respond. I hired them as my midwives and after ending up in the hospital when my water broke early the midwife on call left after getting me checked in (was with me a total of maybe 3 hours) and when I asked when I could call her to come back she replied not to call until I really needed her. I wanted the support I had been told I would get and instead labored for 14 hours (starting several hours after the midwife left) without my midwife present (as a doula and not as a midwife b/c we were in the hospital). It was a really scary time for me as we were worried about the health of the baby and her encouragement would have been appreciated. We called her around 7 hours into labor and she only arrived as I was pushing . There were other issues related to post-baby care, but this is the part that is most relevant for you. There were no signs for me that this would be the case leading up to the birth btw. Good luck finding someone. anon

Doula for Alta Bates birth who can work with hospital staff

Sept 2012

Hello all, We're expecting a baby in March of next year, and are searching for a doula to help during the birth (which will be at Alta Bates). I would love to hear of folks recent doula experiences, both positive and negative. We definitely want someone who will be our advocate and support during the birth, and are hoping to go the drug-free route. We have however heard a couple of negative stories of doulas attempting to override the doctor or midwife, and want to make sure we steer clear of any of that type of drama during the birth. Any thoughts or recommendations would be appreciated! Thanks so much

I would definitely check in with Blythe Lee, '3 Daughters Doula.' We haven't delivered yet, but she is incredibly supportive and has a good handle on weighing and balancing one's desire for an intervention-free birth, but also the realities that take place that might lead you and your doctor to decide that you may need an intervention (however small). She is so sweet and sharp, I can't imagine her ever being the type to try to overrule you and your doctor or midwife. I could see her helping you sort your thoughts as you make a decision, which is exactly what she has done for us when we had to make a decision about testing/monitoring during our own pregnancy. happy with our doula

We had a wonderful experience with our doula, Deanna Jesus. Our daughter was born this past July. We'd been planning a natural birth, but it ended up in an induction and c-section. Deanna was so helpful in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the birth, and on the day of, she was invaluable. I definitely understand your concerns about a doula attempting to 'go against' hospital recommendations. With Deanna we felt confident from the beginning that she didn't have any kind of 'agenda,' except to help us, to the best of her ability, have the kind of birth experience we wanted to have. She's a great team player and got along really well with the hospital staff. She's also incredibly sharp, full of information, very good at explaining things clearly, and she notices everything (she was actually the first one to notice our daughters heart deceleration!). Finally, she's very warm, generous with her time, and has a great sense of humor. I know she's in the process of making a new website, but her facebook page is: Feel free to get in touch with me if you have more questions! molly

Grace Bender was my doula and I love her. She was so supportive, worked really well with with me and my husband and our birth team. She's also a massage therapist, a total win in my book! Here is her website: She is there to make you and your family feel taken care of and supported. I can't imagine her getting in between you and your other caregivers. L

I just want to say that I had a hospital birth at Alta Bates with the on-call from my OB-Gyn practice, and never once were drugs pushed on me. I refused the IV/monitoring when admitted and they were cool with that. I had considered using a Doula but ended up never getting around to finding one. In the end, my birth was relatively fast (admitted at 6:30 PM, baby in arms by 9:30 PM) so I'm not quite sure they would of done anything! My husband and I did take a hypnobirthing class --- which was as much about learning how to control your birthing circumstances and trust in your instincts as it was about relaxation --- and that helped tremendously in allowing us to stand by our choices and also gave my husband the confidence to be my advocate.

Just wanted to let you know that it is possible to have a natural birth at Alta Bates without a doula. I think that in a longer and more drawn-out birth the right doula could be a tremendous asset, but in my case it was more important that my husband and I educated ourselves regarding the birthing process, decided what we wanted, and were aware of the points at which it is too easy for medical intervention to begin. Good luck in your birth! alta bates mama

I highly recommend Heather Wood (heatherlynwood [at] She was my doula in March and was great at explaining what medicine was needed and what was not. She made sure to allow the hospital staff space to do their work. You would be in great hands. Megan

For a wonderful and drama-free doula I would recommend Stephanie Mackley, ssmackley [at], who was an integral part of my second child's birth. Stephanie is a very good listener, supportive, compassionate, knowledgeable, and has a great sense of humor ... all important doula qualities. While my second was a home birth, I too had a 'pushy' doula for my first birth (at Alta Bates), which made me quite uncomfortable, and the next time I focused on finding support that would guide and comfort me without trying to call the shots. I know Stephanie well and cannot imagine her trying to pursue her own agenda over her client's, and she will work hard to understand how she can best help you. Feel free to contact me for more info, and good luck! megan

I highly recommend my doula, Stephanie Mackley. She is a gentle, affordable, and really caring doula that held my hand through my entire birth process. For my first child I felt really powerless over my birth plan (I had no doula) and knew that for my second child I wanted to feel like I was in control and Steph really made me feel informed and like I had a choice throughout the process. Steph is warm, loving, enthusiastic, compassionate and has a great sense of humor, coupled with maturity and responsibility. She came to our house twice for pre-natal visits and also offered support over email and the phone, and she really addressed my fears with detailed responses. Stephanie's support was a huge contribution to my positive birth experience. She took wonderful pictures of my birth, drafted a detailed birth log, and really was present throughout the birth and helped me navigate some decisions that had to be made on the spot. Stephanie's contact info: 510.717.8784 and ssmackley [at]

Hi, Congratulations on your pregnancy! I just gave birth in June and had an amazing doula and I think everyone should hire her. Her name is Michelle Williams ( -- on yelp, too) and she is also training to be a homebirth midwife so she has a lot of knowledge and experience. This was my second baby so the labor was fast, but I was so relieved to have her there. She knew exactly what was happening without words, kept me calm, kept me moving, and guided me through a perfect birth. I know that if I had hired her for my first birth I would have had a much better experience, but since I cannot go back in time the best I can do is tell everyone I know to use her if they can. She only takes two clients a month which reduces the risk that she will miss your birth. Feel free to contact the moderator for my info if you want to talk more about her, but I think she is incredible. Erica

I'd like to recommend Nelly Haskins. She is warm, friendly, and helped my husband and I through a rough patch with our new baby. She is a postpartum doula but does births as well. Her email is momblann [at] Jess

Doula for first baby on lower cost end

July 2012

Hi, I'm pregnant with my first baby and looking for a good Doula in the Berkeley/Richmond area. I'd prefer someone on the lower cost end but I'm willing to pay more if someone comes highly recommended. Thank you! Rachel

Please get in touch with Michelle Williams ( She was the doula for the birth of my son last April. You didn't specify in your post, but Michelle has experience with medicated and unmedicated hospital births, as well as with home births. She has a wonderful energy and is such a calm and soothing presence. She was also invaluable for postpartum support and healing during the first few weeks after birth. I can't recommend her highly enough. Amy

To date, hiring a night time doula is the best decision I have made as a parent and I feel so fortunate to have found Ezdora from Doulas by the Bay. Ezdora joined us after the birth of our second child and has stayed with us for six months. I have complete trust in Ezdora to care for the most precious thing in our lives- our newborn baby. Ezdora is truly a gift. She arrives every evening with an enormous smile on our face and always asks how the entire family is doing. She genuinely wants to know how the baby is - how much she has ''eaten'' and how often she has slept. She has a very warm heart and a deep joy of babies and helping families. She is very experienced and knowledgeable and helped to get my daughter on a nighttime schedule (at our request) and she is now sleeping through the night (most of the time). She offers advice when we seek it, but is completely supportive of our choices without judgment. She is helpful without being intrusive. One night I asked her how long she has been a night time doula and whether she is exhausted from lack of sleep. She replied ''This is the best job I have ever had. How could I ever been in a bad mood when I am helping to take care of a baby. Even if I have had a bad day, I see that sweet baby and how can I be upset.'' It was a very sincere answer. We look forward to Ezdora coming in the evenings and even though she is a quiet person, she is very funny when you get to know her. I feel lucky that I have and my husband and I will both miss her. You can reach Ezdora at or 415.955.7612. She and her daughter (who is also a doula) have reviews on Yelp as well. Michelle

I highly recommend Deanna Jesus, our doula for the birth of our daughter this past July 14th. Deanna is an expert at what she does. She knows it all (she was ready with tons of helpful information for our every question), she has an extremely sharp mind, seemingly boundless energy, and many years of experience working at all of our local hospitals. She is also incredibly warm and has a great sense of humor. Deanna is very generous with her time; she spent tons of time with us prior to our birth, both on the phone and in person. At the birth itself, she kept everyone calm and collected and was full of ideas of different positions to try and ways to put me more at ease. Moreover, she was the one to notice and point out our daughter's heart decelerationCbshe was that aware and on top of it late at night after hours of labor. We can't imagine our birth without her presence. molly

Hi! I just had my second baby by VBAC at Kaiser Walnut Creek last week, and I have a double recommendation for a doula. We booked Talia Kostick, who provided wonderful prenatal support in the form of two meetings, plus a host of emails and text messages. She was reassuring and informative, great at follow up, and eager to research questions that she didn't have immediate answers to. She also offered to do things like attend non-stress tests with me (which fortunately I never had to go through). I found her to be warm and open and very prepared. She also seems to be connected to a wonderful group of backup doulas, which is what brings me to the second part of my twofold recommendation, which is for Tracie Enis. It just so happened that when I went into labor, Talia was with another client for what turned out to be a 24-hour labor, so while she was still answering questions for me via text, she connected me to Tracie, one of her backups. Tracie talked me through some questions on the phone, and she was the one who ended up attending my birth when I went in to the hospital earlier than expected (much faster than my first labor). I can't say enough about how wonderful it was to have Tracie at our birth. Even though we'd never met, and she was arriving at the hospital during a point in my labor when I felt like I was losing it (I was having furiously painful contractions and had just had a shot of fentanyl that did absolutely nothing for the pain), her presence was an immediate calming and stabilizing force. I felt instantly comfortable and secure with her. She stepped up without hesitation, giving me comfort measures and helping my husband to better support me. She has a wonderful touch and voice. I don't know how I would have gotten through the waiting period for the low-dose epidural I ended up getting without her support. Once I did get the epidural, I started to worry that this birth would end in cesarean like my last, but Tracie was so emotionally reassuring, reminding me that every birth is unique. And you would think that a doula would have nothing to do with her client laid up in bed with an epidural, but Tracie remained active throughout, assuring me that although the sensation was different, my body was still working hard, and helping me to work with my body, breathing with my contractions, and resting up for the pushing stage. She monitored my contractions, keeping me informed about how my labor was progressing, and she was amazing at interfacing with the hospital staff. She anticipated my needs, everything from rubbing my feet and getting me warm blankets when I got the shivers, to making sure I didn't scratch my skin off when I started itching (a sometime side effect of the epidural)! And when it came to pushing, she made me feel like a rock star when I didn't think I could pull it off. And somehow in the middle of it all (I don't even know when she had time to do this with all the coaching and leg-holding she was doing), she managed to get pictures of my daughter being born. Anyway, both of these women were instrumental in making my second birth a beautiful, positive, powerful experience, and I highly recommend them both. Good luck! Patti

Doula for a hospital birth with epidural

March 2012

We're looking for a supportive doula to assist us with a hospital birth (Kaiser Oakland) with an epidural. We had our first child in Ann Arbor, Michigan last year and our doula there was fantastic. Even though we did not want natural childbirth, we did want to be as informed and in control of the process as possible, and she made that happen. She also provided a wonderful consistency of care and information over my 36 hours of labor, a critical complement to the rotating hospital staff. So we're looking for recommendations for a knowledgeable, funny, kind and open-minded doula who will accompany us for this birth - and are hoping the labor will be shorter this time! Doula seeker

Hi. I recently gave birth at Alta Bates, and hired the Full Circle Doula group to support the labor and birth. It was a VBAC, so I knew I needed extra help. There are three women in the group, and they are all wonderful, humorous, and supportive. I have a habit of giving birth around holidays, so wanted to make sure I was going to see a friendly face and, as you mention, have some consistency of care during the birth. Having a group of three ensured that there was always a well-rested doula available, whenever my baby came. Stacia attended my birth and was awesome, but I met with all three doulas beforehad, and they were all helpful both by phone and email I navigated some late complications in the pregnancy. Anyway, all wonderful supportive ladies who respect whatever type of birth you are opting for. So happy they were a part of my labor. full circle doula fan

I have two recommendations: Anna and Candace with Family Doula Services, They work as a team so you'll meet with both and whichever one is available will be with you at your birth. They're great! Also Nickie Tilsner is amazing. She's been doing this for years and also provides childbirth ed, doula training, etc. As you probably know, it depends most on who you and your husband are most comfortable with but all these women are fabulous at what they do and are there to make your birth the way you want it. M

Michelle Williams ( was my doula and is absolutely wonderful. She would be a fantastic person to have on your side for a hospital labor with an epidural. She is all of the things you describe -- very knowledgeable about childbirth, labor, hospital procedures, medications used, etc. She attends a lot of births at Kaiser Oakland, to the point of knowing many of the staff there. She has a good sense of humor which is more important than you think! She was also invaluable for postpartum support and healing during the first few weeks after birth. I can't recommend her highly enough. Amy

I highly recommend Caitlin Smith as a doula for a hospital birth with an epidural. She was my doula last November for exactly that (a hospital birth with an epidural). From the moment I met her, I liked her tremendously. She is warm, knowledgable, grounded and totally non-judgmental. She truly will support you in having the kind of birth you want to have - medicated or not. I was so happy that I had picked Caitlin as my doula, and I feel that her personality is such that most people would feel very at ease with her. You mentioned Ann Arbor. Coincidentally, she is from Michigan and went to school in Ann Arbor. Check out her reviews on yelp: Her phone number is (510) 385-4433 Her email is wcaitlinsmith [at] Ruth

OB/doula needed for very nervous 2nd time mom

Dec 2011

We are just starting to try to get pregnant with baby no 2. Due to a previous pregnancy that we ended due to birth defect and also due to the fact our only child (so far) has had some minor to moderate developmental issues (PDD and SID diagnosed at age 2.5) I am probably about 1000 times more neurotic and freaked out about things than, say, a first time mom with a 'normal' pregnancy underway. I already posted for more abstract emotional advice in the upcoming Advice Wanted. So here, can you please recommend a female OB somewhere near Richmond/Berkeley/Emeryville who excels at being kind and compassionate but also honest and direct with high needs, freaked out, nervous Nellies like me?? Some one who acknowledges what we've been through and understands birth defects, 'imperfect' kids etc...Also open to doula recs though more for moral support as I want to have baby in hospital w/ doctor attending and it most likely will be a Csection (first baby was a C baby) thanks!!!! Nervous Nellie

I can recommend a doula who is extremely experienced with all kinds of births, and will support you in whatever choice you make. She is also a labor and delivery nurse so she has seen everything. She was my doula for a delivery last April, and was solid as a rock, calm, and encouraging, as well as very knowledgeable. I highly recommend talking to her about your past experience, your fears, the kind of OB you're looking for (she knows many) and what kind of birth you'd like to try to have given your past. Her name is Tora Spigner. You can reach her at motherslovedoula [at] or 510 848 9724. new mom

I don't have a relevant OB rec for you, but I highly recommend Linda Jones as a doula. One of her areas of specialization is working w/ moms who have had a previous traumatic birth experience. She has 20+ years of experience and is just a wise, unflappable, extremely caring person. I wrote a long testimonial on her website about the hospital birth we had with her in 2009, so please check that out ( And I am now 26 weeks pregnant with our second (after 3 miscarriages, one of which involved a nightmarish trip to the emergency room, so I get where you're coming from with being a little neurotic and fearful), and she is still wonderful - a truly calming presence. Check her out. A big fan of Linda

The PERFECT Doula (for homebirth)

Dec 2011

We are seeking an energetic, strong, and calming doula for our planned homebirth and so many of the doula recommendations are both old, and for people planning hospital births. My needs are a little different as I don't need a hospital advocate or someone to tell me when to go to the hospital. What I am looking for is someone who: is very active in helping the mama try different positions; suggests different activities to get labor moving; reminds the mama to drink and pee; helps the mama use a birth ball; uses acupressure and massage therapy to alleviate labor; breathes through contractions with the mama. Did you have someone who fulfilled all of these requirements? I don't want someone who suggests a position and when the angry laboring mama says ''no!'' they never suggest anything again. A doula has to be persistant, strong, and ever-present! Please pass on your doula's name if you think she fits this description, and tell me (specifically if you can) how she helped you through your labor. Thanks so much Homebirth Doula Seeker

I hired the Full Circle Doula group to support my recent delivery. These ladies are wonderful. They had group prenatals, so I had a chance to get to know all three women, and feel confident with the support provided. Stacia was at my birth and provided the kind of help you mention - calm, strong, positive support throughout active labor. She helped me go from managing pain, to helping advance labor through trying different positions. She was awesome, and helped my husband and i through two long days. Anne showed up after the birth and stayed with us long enough for my husband to nap, feed me some fruit, and take photos of our son. We were in the hospital, but I credit the support of my Doula team and midwife with having a pain med free birth. Good luck in finding the support you need. I highly recommend these ladies to help you during labor. Happy momma of two

I highly recommend Sadie Cooper Bates of Bloom Birth doula service. She was my doula for the home birth of my first son and she is everything that you're looking for. She is very passionate about homebirth and even teaches Birthing from Within courses. She was energetic, strong, wonderful at vocalizing and breathing with me through the contractions and always knew just where to massage me (and when to leave me alone). She birthed her two children at home so she is very familiar with the situation. Anon

First of all Congratulations on your pregnancy. I would recommend Renata Provost ( I think she meets all the criteria you are looking for in a doula. I wanted to have a natural child birth for my second child and thus decided to have a doula. And Renata was the best fit for me. She is energetic, strong, and calm. She is focused and dedicated. She was always by my side with back massage and whatever made me comfortable and responded to my needs very well. And yes she constantly reminded me to drink and pee and helped me use the birth ball, and yes breath with me through contractions and also reminded me constantly to relax my muscles (on my face, hands and feet)with a gentle touch and a firm reminder throughout my contractions. She was amazing. I had a wonderful natural delivery. I delivered at the hospital. Hope its helpful. I wish I had a home birth!

I wholeheartedly recommend Meadow Evans to be your doula. I can't speak highly enough of her. Meadow was indispensable to the birth of our first child. I really don't know if we could have done it without her! She is wise, steady, and skillful, with an incredibly warm and calming presence. She is also a very skilled massage therapist/bodywork, which certainly came in handy for both me and my partner during our labor. She was very engaged with us in the months leading up to the birth, giving us guidance and support through some joyous and some challenging moments. Call her and meet her, and I think you won't be disappointed! Her website is: Jesse

Doula for birth where there may be a lot of tension

Sept 2011

I'm pregnant, and I'm worried that my husband isn't going to be very supportive during labor and delivery. He's opposed to hiring a doula (he doesn't think it's necessary and doesn't want to spend the money) but wouldn't stop me from doing it if I insisted. I'm looking for recommendations for a doula who would be able to attend a birth where there may be a lot of tension between the parents-to-be. Low-cost would be great (since whatever we spend, my husband is going to be complaining about it for years). Thank you. Nervous mom-to-be

I highly recommend Emily Shenson as a doula. We used Emily for our first pregnancy and had a great experience, now that we are pregnant with our second child we have hired her again. Emily is not only extremely professional but a very caring and genuine person, she made me feel at ease and prepared for our birth. Additionally, she helped my husband feel prepared and useful by offering suggestions on how to keep me calm and comfortable. I can't say enough good things about Emily and proud to say that other Bay Area families feel the same. Last July Emily was voted Best Doula in the Bay Area, by ''Bay Area Parents Magazine.'' If you have any further questions or concerns feel free to email me. Good luck and congratulations! Marie

I would like to HIGHLY recommend my doula, Linda Jones. She was my doula just 3 weeks ago for an amazing, successful VBAC. 2 years ago I used another well known doula who was an utter disappointment to me during labor. I had many anxieties and fears about labor this time, including the strong desire to have a vaginal birth. Linda not only understood and addressed all my concerns for months before the birth, but was with me the entire time I was in labor. She came to my house for hours and stayed throughout the birth and several hours after.

She somehow knew exactly what I needed while I was in the height of my labor and was an unwavering support pre and post partum. I have no doubt that I was able to have the birth experience I had always hoped for because of her. She was by my side, talking me through things, offering suggestions and guiding me with her calm presence the entire time. None of this even touches on the fact that she is also an incredible post partum doula as well. In fact, I missed her support so much, we ended up hiring her for several nights after the birth. She is incredible with babies and gave me many helpful suggestions to soothe and comfort my new baby.

I only wish I had used Linda for my first birth, I know I would have avoided an unnecessary c-section. She doesn't take very many births-which is amazing because she is so available when you have her-so call her early!! It is rare to find a doula like her these days. She truly gives you her all, not just during labor, but before and after-she is a gem!! Find her on LinkedIn or at fst6wks [at] couldn't be happier

In response to the Sept 17th request for doula recommendations: I would like to highly recommend Emily Shenson. Emily was the doula for the birth of both of my children (now 1 and 3) and was incredibly supportive. Yes, money was tight for my husband and I as we were starting a family but Emily was worth every penny. The births of each of my children were extremely positive and empowering experiences for me as a mother and a person - and Emily was a large part of what made that a reality. Her presence also took a lot of the ''burden'' off of my husband (in terms of being the coach, advocate, support, etc) and helped us to just be present with each other during the labor and birth which was a wonderful way to enter parenthood together. Emily's phone number is (510) 224-7255. She works with clients in SF and the East Bay. Best of luck! Meridith

Having a doula present during labor makes a huge difference even if a husband is helpfull and supportive. I didn't like the idea of a doula myself and just went along because my wife wanted it, but it was the best decision! I can't imagine how everything would have been if we didn't have one. Your husband will be very greatfull after all as I was. Our doula was Renata Provost, her website is

I highly recommend our doula Stacia Biltekoff, CMT, CD. My water broke without labor or contractions and I was scheduled to deliver at Alta Bates. I wanted a natural childbirth without meds and had to fight for it at every step of the 20 hour process of labor and delivery. Having an intelligent, grounded woman in there with me gave me so much confidence that it was possible. That women in my situation were able to and having natural births all around me. She was so grounding. When I was exhausted, she reminded me that I was the only one who could do this and asked what I needed to help me. She is such a wonderful person.

She helped my husband so much through it all. He was worried about whether I was supposed to be that wired up, was supposed to be this tired, was I going to be ok. Our relationship with her before labor began helped him to feel that he had a friend in there when he was at the end of his rope, when he needed a friend to talk to, when he wanted to ask the doctor questions in private and needed the med jargon translated. We delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl after 10 hours in labor, 24 hours in the hospital. staciadoula [at] or by phone at 510-543-8411. Ruby

Student/novice/low cost doulas?

July 2011

Hi - I'd love to hire/work with a student/novice/low-cost doula during delivery. I've had a hard time getting recommendations from doula instructors, etc. I am not medi-cal qualified (Birthways requires that to recommend you to their free doulas) but I'd like to connect to some people who are newer to the field and lower cost (or free.) Ideas on how to find one or do you know of any less expensive doulas you'd recommend? anon

I worked with a wonderful new doula, Anna Mahony, for my son's birth in February of this year -- her website is At that time, she was offering her services for free (though I did end up paying her voluntarily). I got in touch with her through the Cornerstone doula training in Oakland -- -- as well as a couple of other women who seemed like great (and low-cost) candidates, so you may also want to try contacting them if you haven't already. Good luck!

Felicia Roche teaches the Doula Classes for the national doula organization. She told me that she regularly has freshly graduated students looking for clients, at little or not cost. Check out her web site, it's just her name, plus .com Anon

My friend Sahana is a student doula. I believe she charges a lower fee. Her email is sahanab [at] She doula-ed for me and was AMAZING! She's very good at doing what you want and not pushing her own agenda. Very professional and amazing. She'd be worth whatever expensive doulas are going for these days and certainly phenomenal for cheap! Hannah

Experience with Dolphin Doula East Bay?

May 2011

Hello - Has anyone had any experience with the Dolphin Doula team? They operate in the East Bay and all three of them are Childbirth Hypnotherapists, which they use in the labor room, which we thought was pretty cool. Recommendations would be useful. Thanks! anon

I had a great experience with the Dolphin Doula EB team for the recent birth of my son at Kaiser Oakland and I'd highly recommend them. They do three pre-birth meetings to work on the hypnosis and to see what comfort measures work best for you. They also do a follow-up meeting after the birth. They work as a team, so you won't know until the day comes who will actually attend your birth. I liked all three women - Susan, Cindy, and Natalie - and would have felt comfortable with any of them. As it happened, Natalie worked with us during labor and Susan relieved her right before delivery. Both of them were fantastic. I'd also like to add that my Kaiser experience was great. Rachel

Doula that specializes in breastfeeding?

March 2011

I'm looking for a Doula that can basically right all the wrongs of my last labor, delivery and initial start with breastfeeding. I need someone who can work with hypnobirthing and breathing techniques (that I plan to use since during my first delivery I did not have good pain management support or techniques to rely upon); AND someone who can really help with breastfeeding from the get-go. I have large, flat nipples and had a really hard time getting my daughter to latch, which resulted ultimately in low milk supply and lack of ability to nurse my daughter--despite later lactation consultants. SO, I want to do things right this time around, and need a recommendation for who might be able to help with that. Thanks!! Getting it Right this time

I used Kathy Woo, and info [at] She is a great doula. She uses hypnobirthing techniques and was very helpful during labor and immediately after the birth with breastfeeding. She also helped set us up with a lactation consultant prior to the birth, and I had already set up an in-home visit with the lactation consultant that turned out to be essential in the first few days after my son was born. anonymous

jessica crete is your gal. she was our hypnobirthing instructor and traveled to our home for private lessons. we hired her as our doula too. good luck! melissa

Sadie from Bloom Birth Services is great. You can call (510-219-7696) or go to her website here: Sadie is an amazing doula and she was involved in every stage of the process of birth from preparation to aftercare. We have felt her calming presence and have been rescued by her knowledge about birthing and motherhood time and time again (I find myself saying to my husband sometimes, ''Well, Sadie says...'') She even sent me a super sweet card the week after the birth reminding me of my strength and solidifying some special birthing moments. That gave me a special kind of strength to make it through those first wonderful and hard moments as a mommy. If you want a doula who can practice labor positions with you (and a partner) before the birth, help you navigate the early days of breastfeeding, set up a calming place for you during your labor, cook you a meal post-birth, and even meet you in your home or anywhere you're comfortable then I highly recommend using Sadie at Bloom Birth. She also has a very affordable rate for the Bay area, what could be better?! Sadie helped me through a very teary moment when my little one was not eating one day (she had jaundice and was very sleepy) in the first week after birth and showed up that same afternoon to help calm me down. In a matter of an hour our little one was awake and eating a nice big meal. Sadie was the first one to be pooped on by my baby and took that with the same grace and professionalism as she did every other moment she spent with me and my new little family. Five stars for sure! Emily

editor note: lactation consultants were also recommended.

Affordable Doula/Doula-in-training/Massage

March 2011

I'm looking for a recommendation for either an affordable doula or a doula-in-training. Ideally, this is someone who specializes in massage/bodywork. I am having my second baby at Alta Bates and am looking for someone who is mainly there during the labor to help with comfort techniques. I had back labor for my first child and I really think having someone with me who is knowledgeable about positions during labor and can help with counterpressure and massage during labor would be great. J

Andrea Wilson Certified Postpartum Doula she is a a student labor Doula with Massage and Acupressure Techniques (707)720-9504 dream_doula [at] Berkely Parent

Looking for an affordable, wonderful doula

Jan 2011

Hello, I am having my first baby in late April and am looking for a knowledgeable, experienced and kind doula. So far, all of the doulas I have researched are either not available or out of my range price-wise. I am willing to pay up to $1000 but cannot really do more. One more thing: I live in San Leandro and the doula would need to be okay with attending my birth at Kaiser Hayward. Does anyone have any recommendations? Thanks! M.

hey there, i wanted to post a warning to families in the bay area who might consider having their child at sage femme midwifery in san francisco. although judi and her team are highly competent, the business end of things is not. i prepaid for my birth, which totaled approximately $3450. a great value for all that was included. she submitted a super bill to my insurance so i could be reimbursed. judi cashed the checks from my insurance and explained my monies were used to PAY HER BUSINESS EXPENSES!!! She was paid in October for an August birth. i'm in the process of taking her to small claims court.

Seeking a new or 'budget' doula

Nov 2010

The BPN archives have lots of great recommendations for doulas, but I'm reaching out to see if anyone has recently worked with someone pretty new to doula practice (including possibly someone who's still working to get certified). The reason is that I'm planning a homebirth for my 2nd, which is going to cost a lot and I really can't pay the $1000+ for someone with tons of experience. I still would like the support of a doula and think it would be great to work with someone who's just getting started. (I'm not really low-income and don't want to be a cheapskate, so don't feel I qualify for some kind of volunteer program, just on a budget). Let me know if you have any leads or if you yourself are a new/low-cost doula who would be interested in getting homebirth experience! Budget mama

Try contatcing Cornerstone Doula: Run by Juli and Niki Tilsner. I had a fantastic homebirth in 2008 (With Juli & Awakenings Birth Services) and had a doula in training for free. She was great. I'm sure they can hook you up with someone. Kelly

Recent Recs for Doula at Alta Bates

Nov 2010

Hi, I'm currently scheduled to give birth at Alta Bates, and I was wondering if anyone had any recent recommendations for doulas who routinely work there. I'd especially love a doula who has experience with hypnobirthing or hypnobabies. Thank you!

My doula was great and I believe she goes to Alta Bates as well! Here is her contact info... Deanna Jesus, CD(DONA), CLE, HBCE Birthing Babies ~ A Celebration of Life, LLC 2415 San Ramon Valley Blvd., #4209 San Ramon, California 94583 Phone: 925-216-7264 Email: DoulaDee [at]

Linda Jones-Mixon is a fantastic birth and postpartum doula who has attended countless births at Alta Bates over the years. Linda has 20+ years of experience and attended the birth of our daughter at AB in April 2009. We fully credit her with helping us achieve our goal of having a completely natural childbirth. My impression as soon as we got to the hospital was that she knew all the Labor and Delivery nurses who were around that night and was on extremely good terms with them. When I was in triage, she asked who was on duty and requested a particular nurse whom she knew to be very supportive of natural childbirth (and who turned out to be wonderful). It was so wonderful that Linda and our lead L nurse knew each other and were comfortable working together. It felt like they were our team. It was great.

Linda was also great in terms of knowing how the medical professionals would respond to particular conditions. For instance, at one point during my labor, we were monitoring the fetal heartbeat, and it started to slow down during contractions. Linda was aware that if that happened X number of times in a row, the nurse would have to call in a doctor. Linda very quickly identified that the heartbeat didn't slow down unless I sat down and asked me to stand up. The nurse - who had a trusting, good relationship with Linda - saw what was going on and held off on calling the doctor. The next contraction, everything was fine, and we didn't have to call in the doctor. There were lots of little things like that... I wish I could remember them all. What I do remember is the overriding feeling that Linda is a goddess and there's no way we would have been able to navigate the medicalized birth world without Linda there to guide us. She's on the expensive end for a birth doula but worth every cent. The friend who referred me to Linda also gave birth at AB in 2004, and her story was very similar. Her water broke at 36 weeks, and she had a long, difficult labor. Linda was great at telling her, if abc happens, they will want to do xyz. Or... if you don't push this baby out within the next x hours, they will order a c-section.

In addition to knowing hospital births and the AB staff inside and out, Linda is also just a wonderful, caring person. She was fantastic with postpartum support and gave me truly excellent advice on stuff like breastfeeding and how to get my newborn to sleep in her bed rather than on my body, etc. I can't recommend her highly enough. Here's her contact info:

Linda Jones-Mixon fst6wks [at] Big Fan of Linda Jones-Mixon

Seeking doula in training

Aug 2010

I am expecting my second child in December and hope to have a vbac at Kaiser Walnut Creek. However, my son was delivered early due to complications with my health so we do not know if I will actually go into labor by my 41 week deadline or not (and thus I may have to have a repeat c). My husband and I paid full price for our doula with my son and did not even get to use her birthing services and are having a hard time thinking about doing that again at the current doula rates. As an alternative, I am seeking a doula in training (either volunteer or low cost). This way I am helping someone gain experience in their training and can convince my husband that we are not out a ton of money if we end up having a c-section again. Does anyone have recommendation for a current doula in training? Thank you! expecting #2

I can send your request out to the San Francisco Bay Area community! That is the easiest way to find a doula in training or low cost doula. Or you can go to or and contact each group and let them know what your seeking! Hope this helps. Congrats and Good luck!

seeking a warm, experienced, supportive down-to-Earth doula

May 2010

Greetings, I am expecting my second baby Aug. 23rd and am looking for a warm, experienced, supportive down-to-Earth doula with massage and/or yoga training. I've contacted quite a few doulas and find it difficult to get a return call. Any suggestions? Expecting

I would highly recommend our doula, Trina Mackie. She assisted in the birth of our daughter in Jan 2009, and was wonderful!! With Trina's help, I had a completely unmedicated, normal birth of a healthy baby, even though it took about 24 hours after my water broke for serious labor to start. If we hadn't had her help, we probably would have gone to the hospital much sooner and may have been pressured to use pitocin or other means to artificially stimulate labor. You can reach her at trinamackie [at] Please feel free to contact me if you'd like more details. sara

I met my doula for both births through her work as a fantastic massage therapist - I can't say enough good things about her and am happy to answer any questions about both my birth experiences with her. Best to you! Doula Jessica Catano - peacefuljourneys [at] or 510/769-6300

Desiree Tamsky was my doula for a very difficult 48-hour labor. She was wonderful. Mary

Betsy Appell is an excellent doula who meets all your requirements (and more). Betsy was my doula through two pregnancies. She possesses so many qualities I appreciate: warm, yet no-nonsense, nurturing, but with a lively sense of humor. She is smart as a whip, unfailingly compassionate and supportive, highly professional, reliable, and best of all she's fun (I spent many hours with her for my first delivery, so that was important).

Bonus: Betsy is an expert in hypnotherapy. She put together a personalized meditation and auto-hypnosis CD for me to use throughout my pregnancy, and I'm convinced that contributed to my general well-being and mellow delivery. Kate C.

You just described my doula! Britt Fohrman is an amazing yoga teacher, massage therapist, photographer and birth advocate. You will love her! She's in SF though, and I don't know how far she is able to drive for clients. Here's her website: Good luck to you! Dennise

I want to highly recommend my doula Betsy Appell. I had a team of midwives and still chose to have her at my birth. I took her childbirth ed course (which is great) and was impressed with her knowledge, skill and personality. She offered wonderful emotional support but what I loved most about betsy was the numerous tools she had to help me in the birth process. She had real, practical and creative suggestions for managing pain and helping me through it. she moved in when I needed her and back when I needed space. She is just in tune, down to earth, highly experienced and very real. I love her and would work with her again and again! Feel free to email with any more questions. Rivka

I recently was looking for doulas and received these recommendations from friends of friends or from other doulas that i had contacted. All 3 were extremely prompt in returning my inquiries. Good luck with your search.
trina mackie
Kathy Woo, MS, CHT
Treesa McLean treesa.mclean [at]

I highly recommend Betsy Appell in Berkeley: she was our doula for our first baby in 2007, and our second this past February. She is a wealth of information and has a very compassionate and professional style. She's also a prenatal yoga teacher. We took her ''Zen birthing'' class with our first pregnancy and loved it. I felt like she was always there for us and really made the whole experience extra special. AmyO

Amy Jones is a great doula and massage therapist with very reasonable rates. She's warm, down-to-earth, and easy to talk to. I really enjoyed getting to know her through my second pregnancy, birth and beyond. You can find out more info. at happy mom,healthy baby

I would highly recommend Laila Ibrahim. She was invaluable at both our children's births. She's an experienced doula and her 14 years of running a preschool before she became a doula give her an incredible wealth of knowledge about many things from preparing for a second sibling to sleep issues to navigating the transition of bringing the new baby home. She's very practical, warm, and down to earth. You can check out her website at Sheri

Re: Midwife who bills insurance via Ob-Gyn

March 2010

Betsy Appell is an extraordinary doula and prenatal yoga instructor. She never made any assumptions about gender, which was unusual. (I got a lot of questions about ''my husband'' from the most unlikely people.) Even better, she never assumed that I had a partner to begin with, which I think is important too. Dyke With Children

Has anyone use a doula?

March - April 2010

Hi Ladies, I am 34 weeks pregnant with my second child and was wondering if anyone here has used a doula to help with their labor? I am considering one, since I REALLY want to try natural childbirth this time, but am concerned about the costs, how helpful it will be etc etc. Does anyone have experience? How much do they typically charge you? For those you did hire one, did you feel like they were a big help? Please help! -Meghana

I bet 80% of the women in Berkeley use a doula when giving birth. Doulas are pretty popular here and get booked up quickly so you might want find one soon. I had a great doula, Nancy Petrin, who helped me through a difficult labor that lasted a couple days. She has a zen background. She lived at Green Gulch Zen Center for many years. She's super calm, soothing. She gives great encouragement and massages you while you're in labor. She'll help you create a birth plan. Nancy will come once the labor is serious and stay with you until the baby is born. I think she does 2 prepartum visits and then one or two postpartum visits too. Her contact info: 510-524-1506 nanpetrin [at] Good luck -Julie

Congratulations Meghana on your pregnancy. We chose to hire a doula for our second birth and were so glad we did, and very happy with our choice. Not only was Deanna funny, focused, relaxed and very calm, but she wasn't too suffocating, pressuring or judgmental. The birth went very smoothly, less than 2 hours, and completely natural (for which we credit Deanna). It was great to have an advocate (e.g. she kept asking all the extras that tend to be at a Kaiser Oakland birth to please leave the room). She has all the tapes, classes, hypno-birthing, massage, techniques etc, if you need them... but she's also great for people like us... second time around, just wanted someone there for the labor & delivery. Because she didn't force a ''package'' onto us (and because she needed to get the hours up), she was at the low end of all the doulas I researched (under $500).

Deanna Mulder-Sauter Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator, CMT & CHT 510-421-6180 gentlebirthing [at] WWW.DEANNASAUTER.COM mummy-to-two

Hello Meghana- I gave birth to my first child last May and had Emily Ross as my doula. I loved my experience and Emily. I was so happy to have someone there who had been present at many births. In addition my husband was happy to have someone there to tell him what to do (in a nice way) and not be offended by my yelling. My birth didn't go according to plan, but Emily was there the whole time encouraging me and explaining our options. In the end I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We paid $1,200 and it was worth every penny. We met before the birth and Emily came to our home after the birth to help us navigate being new parents. I highly recommend Emily and plan on using her again if/when we have our next child. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me. I wish you all the luck! Marie

hi Meghana. i am one of many women you can read about through BPN who have used a doula. hopefully you've checked out what women have to say here first, congrats. second, at 34 weeks prego and considering a natural birth, call a doula now! most book well in advance. i'll answer a few of your questions. a doula can cost around $1000, more or less depending on their years of experience. yes, it can be expensive, but my husband and i agreed it was money well spent! my doula is named Emily Ross, you can read more about her and get her contact info at , as our doula she helped build a great relationship between us all, provided excellent communication, made sure my birth plan was followed, and supported me, or rather my husband in helping me, which was what we wanted, through a 12 hour natural birth. she has great relationships with many hospital's staff and protocols, and this allowed me to focus on birthing my daughter. i believe only an experienced doula can do this. in fact, we loved Emily and valued her services so much that she will be our doula again for our second child due in september! needless to say, i highly recommend her. anything can happen at a birth, but i feel that with a doula, with her, you have the greatest chance of having the kind of birth YOU want. if you want to have a natural birth, then yes, get a doula! vicki

Hello! Carolynn Melchert (510-654-2384)supported me through two pregnancies and births. My children are now 5 and 2. Her ability to listen and be grounded calmed me through times of anxiety leading up to the births. I was 10 days late with my first, and each day created more anxiety for me about what was coming. She asked me where my favorite place was (Redwood Regional Park), hiked with me there and led a grounding meditation right on a spot that was very sacred for me. It grounded me and allowed me an experience to bring into labor that was calming and peaceful.

During labor, she encouraged me to trust my body, reminding me of the beauty that was occurring in my body and the wisdom of the body to do this very natural thing. She held me both physically and emotionally. She helped and comforted both my husband and I through 12 hours of labor. She helped us know what we could do and ask for at the hospital, helped my husband be more comfortable (no beds for the guests!) and made runs to the store for stuff we needed. With my second, she even cooked up a delicious castor oil omelet that definitely got the labor going!

After delivery, she did a moxa treatment, helped me with breastfeeding and just generally listened to me about the transition. She was a very calming presence.

She was invaluable and I would highly recommend her services. Please contact me with your number if you'd like to talk more about my experience with her. jen

I highly recommend hiring a doula, especially for first time mommies. I did, and I had a great experience. FRANCINE MADRID was my doula. She is amazing and helped me during my labor this past January. I was in need of a last minute doula and immediately felt that she was 'the one' upon meeting her. She was cool, calm and knowledgeable -having had 2 children of her own. I'm thankful. My labor would have been much more difficult without Francine. Through each stage, she was at my side with a new remedy to alleviate each ailment. It was great. I HIGHLY recommend her. In fact, a girlfriend of mine trusted my word and Francine helped deliver her daughter a month and change later. We both can't praise her enough. Francine Madrid -- Mariposa Massage Therapy & Doula Support 510-485-8790

If considering a doula, please look up Francine Madrid. She is of a high caliber with her work and I recommend that you consider her. She made my pregnancy and birth a much more pleasant experience. I received some excellent prenatal massages (she is a certified massage therapist) and also helpful suggestions to prepare for birth. Especially for you first time moms, please consider a doula as they can help alleviate some of those anxieties and be wonderful support for becoming a mother.510-655-5413 Francine Madrid or email her at iasmum [at] -M., mother of a healthy baby girl and gave birth at Alta Bates.

Looking for a volunteer doula

Jan 2010

I am looking for a volunteer doula to assist me during the upcoming delivery of my first child. I am due on January 25 and will be giving birth at Kaiser SF. My pregnancy has gone by too quickly, and I am feeling very unprepared for this event. My husband is very supportive, but I am concerned that that he will become overwhelmed by the whole process. I know it may be a longshot, as time is so short, but I am hoping that there may be a doula out there who is available to assist me. Thank you. Hoping to find a doula

Try this:

They should be able to locate a free doula for you. Good luck! meg

doula for Alta Bates birth

Nov 2009

Hello... I'd like to get recommendations for Bay Area doulas. I am having my baby at Alta Bates in December. Want a doula who is open to all types of childbirth and will provide unconditional support. Prefer someone who can come before, during and after birth. Thanks! - soon-to-be new mommy

I would strongly recommend Laila Ibrahim ( to anyone looking for a doula. She is absolutely amazing and it would be hard to say enough good things about her. Laila was incredibly helpful at both my children's births, and if I were planning to have another, I would hire Laila in a heartbeat. She has an amazing combination of knowledge/skills, the ability to be incredibly supportive/present/reassuring, and the ability to see/plan what is coming up and help both the laboring woman and her partner/support people prepare emotionally and logistically for what may come next and what our options were. It is a true talent. Laila has a calm and caring presence and does not impose her agenda at all. She is such a gift and I wish every laboring woman could have a doula as talented/wonderful as Laila.

Laila is the parent of two children (now teenagers) and has been a parenting consultant for years, and also ran a preschool for 13 years. She has a masters degree is child development (attachment theory) and is incredibly knowledgeable about breastfeeding, infant care, sleep issues/teaching, and so much more.

She was so helpful to us in preparing for labor, helping us manage labor (decide when to go to the hospital, manage each contraction, push, and then handle the delivery of the placenta and stitches), and then in the postpartum period, helping me learn to breastfeed, answering our million questions, and just providing our whole family with the care we needed. I don't know what we would have done without her. Gogi

I have a recommendation for someone to talk with, and a little advice about choosing. I had a great experience in May with Emily Ross as my doula. She was very supportive and knowledgeable, which was important for me as a first time mom. If you want someone open to all kinds of childbirth, make sure you talk about this when you interview doulas, and go with your gut. Everyone we talked with said they were supportive of all kinds of births, but several gave off a ''judgmental vibe'' when we talked about the possibility of using an epidural. While in the end we decided on and were able to have a drug-free birth, I have no doubt Emily would have been equally supportive had we decided on an epidural. Also make sure you discuss when you want a doula there during your interview. I originally expected to want Emily there from the first contraction on, but didn't end up feeling the need until we were about to go to the hospital. Feel free to contact me with any questions. jmb

Anne Delp was my doula twice, 2004 and most recently in Aug 2009. She is fabulous and supports you no matter what. She has lots of experience with deliveries at Alta Bates. Here is her info: annedelp [at] or 510-557-8029. libby

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend Linda Jones-Mixon. She works as both a birth and postpartum doula and has 20+ years of experience. She was our doula for a natural childbirth at Alta Bates w/ an OB, and she was simply wonderful. She is calm, down to earth, and very non-judgmental. (i.e., she does not have an agenda and is not going to push you to have a particular kind of birth.) I wasn't looking for someone to pamper me and ''make it all go away'' - I just wanted someone who had been through it a million times and could help me cope with any pain and fear by encouraging me and letting me know whether or not things were normal. Linda was that person. And if you are giving birth at Alta Bates, my impression was that she has excellent relationships with the nurses and staff there. In hindsight, I had the kind of amazing, transformative childbirth experience that a lot of women hope to have, and Linda was instrumental in that. She was also really wonderful postpartum. You get a lot of zany (and useless) newborn-care advice, but Linda's was always sound and sensible, and all of her suggestions WORKED. She is phenomenal. Here's the contact info I have for her... 510-917-2783 510-232-7678 fst6wks [at] Amy F

I can't recommend Sara Vietti highly enough... she is warm, caring, supportive and will really spend the time getting to know you. She is based in Napa, but made the drive to the East Bay many times for us... and was there the whole time for our birth experience. The most wonderful thing about Sara is that she will really listen to you very deeply and be there for you in a totally non-judgmental way. You kind of have to meet her to know what I am talking about, but she takes nothing personally and is really good at just showing up and being present. I can't think of a more important quality in a doula. Her website is and her phone is 707-326-5505.

I gave birth a month ago and had the fortune of hiring Treesa McClean to be my doula. I simply can't sing her praises enough and express how pivotal she was to my (first) birth experience. Initially, I was a bit skeptical about the need for a doula (thinking it was perhaps unnecessary when an epidural was part of the birth plan) but, in retrospect, I can't imagine the experience without her. Sheb

s calm, practical, and knowledgeable. She knows Alta Bates staff well and was she was the point person in the room during the entire experience. Even the nurses deferring to her clear expertise. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Free to answer any queries about her or the doula experience at Alta Bates. jenniferC

Midwife, Doula, Hospital for Single Mom

June 2009

I'm single, pregnant by donor insemination (hooray!), and looking ahead to prenatal care & (hospital) delivery. I'm also relatively new to the Bay Area, and so have three questions: 1. What East Bay hospitals are good options for childbirth? 2. If I decide to go with a midwife, I'd like to find someone who is experienced and highly qualified, and also supportive of single moms who do not have a partner present for the birth. 3. I?m also interested in hiring a doula, with the same general specifications as above. Thank you! Lotsa Questions

i can HIGHLY recommend Nancy Petrin as a doula. i was lucky enough to have her at my birth (she was a ''bonus'' that came with my midwife) and she was amazing. i cant imagine having done it without her. her enegy was so nice to have around, she was intuitive, attentive, calm, reassuring and wonderful. she fanned me and wiped me down with cold cloths as well as massaged me and encouraged me. i can't say enough good things about her! her number is: 510.375-3475 a good doula is priceless

I highly recommend Awakenings Birth Services, a practice of three midwives (415-835-0663). I had the most amazing home birth with them recently. They supported me on all levels throughout my pregnancy; the prenatal care they provided was excellent, much better than my previous OB with the birth of my first daughter. I'm sure they would be very supportive of your choice to become a single mother as well. Happy Home Birther

Hi, I am a single mom (donor insemination) and I had a very good experience delivering at Alta Bates hospital. I had a natural childbirth and the nurses there were very supportive. Whether you get a private room post-partum just depends on how busy they are. I believe they try to put everyone in a private room if possible. My doctor was Debra Levinsky and she was great overall. My method of conception or marital status was never an issue for her. If you want a midwife, the most recommended ones at Alta Bates are Lindy Johnson and Hsiu-li Cheng. I do not have personal experience with them. My doula, Tomi Knutson, was great too. She was extremely reliable and very open to the possibility that she might be the only support person at the birth. I don't know if she's taking clients right now, but you can call her at 510-502-5799. Feel free to email me with any questions. Best wishes! malynda

doula for second son in June

April 2009

I'm looking for a doula for the birth of my second son in June. I noticed some of the recommendations on the BPN website are at least several years old. If you've used a doula recently and have had a good experience, I'd appreciate it if you could pass along the name (and contact information). Thanks!

I imagine you will get alot of responses to this one. We had a great experience with Laurel Coates. She was very open-minded, professional, experienced and most of all caring and supportive during what turned out to be a very long labor. It was so wonderful to have her calm, knowing presence by my side (I was also joined by my husband and a friend, and she worked seamlessly with them). I have other friends who commented to me that their doula did something mildly inappropriate during the birth process and I adamantly feel that Laurel was perfect -- and given the length of the labor I feel that I had a long time to assess her abilities.
Laurel Coates Birth Doula laurel [at] 510-816-6780 
Feel free to contact me off list if you want to know more. Sue

We worked with Laurel Coates in November 2008 and highly recommend her. She took the time to really get to know us before the birth, and provided me with lots of useful reading material to prepare physically and emotionally. The day our daughter was born, she was with us all day as I labored at home, then joined us at Kaiser Oakland and stayed with us until well after the baby was born. She was the only person with the presence of mine to take pictures, and every time I look at those photos I quietly thank her--I just treasure them. In short, she was great and I have already recommended her to some of my friends. Check out her website at or call her at 510-816-6780. NJ

Betsy Appell was my doula for the birth of our two children, the younger of whom is 13 weeks old. Lucky you, she's just decided to take new clients again. She is a lovely person inside and out. She's supportive, calm, nonjudgmental and informed about all the possible decisions you're making and assertive with hospital staff without being pushy. And when you're having a contraction and look into her eyes, it's like you're in communion with Quan Yin, I kid you not. Check her out at Lisa

Betsy Appell is a wonderful, warm, and caring doula who teaches hypnobirthing and prenatal yoga. She is a very calm and grounded person who loves to laugh but does not hesitate to speak her mind. She has extensive experience at Alta Bates, which means the staff also knows and respects the way she works. One thing I really appreciate about her is that she helps you balance expectations and what is common in the many births she has seen. She saved me from disappointment by explaining that even with hypnobirthing training most births are not silent nor still. The thing about doulas is that they are there for you and your husband, while everyone else is really there for the baby. I truly can't imagine how my husband and I would have gotten through my first super intense birth without betsy there. Her presence, her touch, her bag of tricks, all made a huge difference. She was at my second birth also, even though I hadn't planned for her to be there, and every time I think of it I thank god she came. For the last couple of years she was only taking returning clients, but now she is taking new ones. Check out her website at or email me if you would like more information. Cynthia

I really cannot say enough about our fantastic doula and midwife Eva Goodfriend-Reano. Her expertise was apparent from the early appointments at both her home and ours. She made sure we were well prepared for any complication that might arise- without making us anxious about the possibility that one might occur. Her firm yet gentle touch made me feel safe and calm. During the labor and birth Eva was amazing- fully present and reassuring. The momentum stayed strong and steady throughout my 24 hour labor thanks to her guidance and support. My husband and I were thrilled with the entire experience from first meeting her to the follow up appointments in our home in the weeks following our son's birth. Thank you Eva! Vida

I am writing to recommend both of our outstanding doulas, Betsy Appell and Treesa McLean. Both are extremely experienced doulas, who also have undergone midwifery training, so with either of them, you are in extremely competent, caring and supportive hands.

Treesa attended the birth of our first child in 2006, met with us in our home on numerous occasions prior to the birth, and never left our side during my eighteen hours of labor in the hospital (treesa.meclean [at] Our son had an extended stay in the hospital and Treesa was there offering support throughout his stay in the NICU and our tumultuous return home. She's got a great sense of humor and was an outstanding support.

As Treesa was unavailable, Betsy was our doula for our second birth, which happened last month (betsy [at] She met with us in our home repeatedly before the birth and really understood what we wanted in our second birth and supported us throughout. She was an incredible calming influence, knew right where I needed her hands to be a counter-support and helped us to have exactly the kind of birth we wanted. Afterward, she came to our house for a post-partum visit, giving both the baby and me a wonderful massage. Both ladies are outstanding supports and I recommend both most enthusiastically. Happy Mama

I would like to highly recommend Anna Bahnson. She truly was a godsend when it came to the birth of our daughter, 10 months ago. We had what could have been a very traumatic birthing experience - an emergency C-section for an undiagnosed breech presentation.

My contractions became unmanageable very quickly after my water broke. Anna responded to my call and came to my house in the middle of the night, without complaint. I went from writhing about on the bed in pain to very calmly breathing through each contraction, thanks to Anna's gentle touch and guidance. (My husband jokingly refers to her as the ''Baby Whisperer''.) When I felt the need to go to the hospital, she was very responsive and encouraged me to trust my instinct. It was there, in the triage room, that we learned the baby was breech. Anna was my rock - she did everything she could to keep me (and my husband) comfortable as I entered the last stages of labor. I went from 7 cm to 10 cm dilation on the triage table, without anesthesia. (The anesthetist was busy with another emergency c-section.) Without Anna, I would have lost it.

She was also a tremendous resource post-op. She stayed with me, comforting me and advocating on my behalf with some difficult medical personnel, while my husband tended to the baby. Her support did not end there. She came to visit us the next day in the hospital and followed up with us at home a few days later.

This review neglects to mention everything Anna did to support me during the pregnancy, and her wealth of knowledge, only because I have already gone on for too long. Let me just say that I cannot imagine birthing a baby without Anna Bahnson at my side. Kimberly

We can enthusiastically recommend Berkeley-based Trina Mackie to anyone looking for a birth doula. Trina was a wonderful support for us before, during, and after the birth of our son this past January (2009). We chose her because of her extensive experience, her balanced approach to supporting us as we made choices about the kind of labor we hoped to have, and her calming and supportive presence. Having Trina with us as was a true blessing throughout our marathon 52-hours labor (yes, she was there with us the entire time and then some!) She gently offered expert support and advice through every stage of the labor and even stayed an extra couple of hours after our son was born to help us get settled. Selecting Trina as our doula was easily one of the best decisions we made in the months before our son was born! More details and contact info are on her website at: Josh and Rachel

Lesbian-friendly doula?

Jan 2009

Can anyone recommend a doula who is sensitive to lesbians? Berkeley lesbian

My partner and I worked with Ann Hayman--who is wonderful!!! We have recommended her to many of our friends and everyone has had glowing reviews of her an all had the births they felt they were ''meant to have.'' She is completely non-judgmental--and supportive of the full range of choices--from completely natural chilbirth to C-sections. Her website is She is also provides prenatal massage. Alexis

I would highly recommend Laila Ibrahim - She is wonderful! Laila was present at both our children's births. Having her there paying attention fully and continually to what we needed was such a blessing. She had an ease and confidence interacting with the hospital staff, and that in turn helped us relax and embrace the experience of labor. Both my partner's labors were very fast and very intense, and they had their scary moments. It's hard to put into words, but there was something about Laila's way of being with us that made me feel like it was all going to be okay. Her steady presence kept me calm and able to be present for my partner.

After our first baby's birth, Laila stayed with us while my partner learned to breast feed. For us, it wasn't as simple as the videos had made it appear to be. Laila stayed with us and helped us long after the nurses had left. We laughed together, full of the emotion of it all. We tried again and again until it finally worked and then we celebrated. She also helped my partner to the bathroom and helped her change her icepacks while I was able to hold our new little girl and marvel at her new life. And Laila listened. She listened while we retold the birth story and while we were adjusting to the incredible internal upheaval and reorientation that becoming mothers was for us. She listened, and she affirmed and validated our perceptions and feelings. Her professional background in human development and infant attachment as well as her personal experience being a lesbian mother was invaluable as we navigated those early weeks. Really, I can't recommend her highly enough. Sheri

I highly recommend Laila Ibrahim. She is a lesbian mother herself and a wonderfully supportive person. You can reach her a (510) 407-1739 or learn more about her at

I'd like to recommend my friend, Nancy Petrin. She's a wonderful doula, with a warm, kind presence. She's very easy to be around, and with a strong sense of focus. Here's a link to a little blurb about her on the zen center web site: And here is a link to her info: Good luck! Pam

Sabine Henrie, 510-843-2091, SabineH [at] She's a post-partum doula only, amazing, loving, conscientious, thorough. anon

I'd like to recommend Kristina Wingeier as a doula. (check out her website if you like: I feel Kristina has a deep understanding of the needs of pregnant women and assists in a very intuitive manner, with a calm and healing presence. Ultimately, she gave me confidence in my body's own ability to give birth naturally, which, to me, is the greatest gift a doula could offer! Over the years Kristina has continued to be an insightful and constant source of knowledge for me. Her timeliness of referrals and her recommended books or websites recently steered me toward a healthier diet that has turned my health around. For that I cannot thank her enough!? Jeanne If you'd like to contact me by email, please do.

doula for Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek

August 2008

Hi! I am looking for a doula with a lot of experience who can reassure me labor is proceeding as it should. I am going to give birth either at Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek. The recommendations on the website are several years old and not all of them are working as birth doulas anymore. I want a doula that will help me birth naturally, but will know when to advise if medical intervention is needed. Yoga or Jewish background a plus but not necessary. Thanks for the names and contacts for any suggestions. I am due end of October, very beg of Nov 2008. Michelle

Congrats on the baby due in the fall. I delivered in WC in 2004 and used Deanna Jesus as my doula and she was great. For her contact info and others, visit the Nurture Center in Lafayette on Mt Diablo Blvd. They're a great resource for info on doulas and their newlsetter has a lot of doulas advertized in there as well. They have a website too. Good luck! Michelle

Jennifer Heystek was the best thing that could ever happen to me. My labor was traumatic, but Jennifer was there by my side for 2 days straight. Her support was extremely valuable. My daughter could not have been born without her priceless support. She works all over the Bay Area. 510.708.6741 Miriam Martinez

You describe our doula, Stacia Biltekoff, perfectly. We chose her as our doula because we, too, wanted someone who would support us in a natural birth or in the use of medication. I ended up with an amazing natural birth at Kaiser Oakland and I credit almost all of our positive experience to Stacia's support.

In our pre-natal visits she also supported us in exploring our Jewish heritage in relation to choices we have to make as parents. She also has a background in massage therapy, and while I don't think she's a yogi, I do know she has exposure to meditation. In my opinion, unless you're birthing at home, it really doesn't get any better than having Stacia at your side.
Here's her contact info: Stacia Biltekoff 510-543-8411 staciadoula [at] 
Good luck & Congratulations! Sofia

I can highly recommend my doula, Pamela Star - who goes by just Star. She is calm and caring, with a sweet manner and sense of humor. She can support you through whatever birth you want, whether it is natural or medicated, and is a tactful and knowledgeable advocate in the hospital. She is based in Vallejo and attends births in the East Bay and San Francisco. You can reach her at 415-595-6017 or sfstarbaby [at] Good luck with your search. agz

I would like to strongly recommend Anne Delp. Anne was the Doula for our third child, who was born in April at Alta Bates, Berkeley. I have had Doulas for my previous two births and have interviewed many, so I feel I can speak from experience. Anne was incredibly supportive through the entire labor. She was there to encourage me and my husband through each and every contraction. She is energetic, positive, professional, down-to-earth and kind. Because of her support, I was able to have a drug free labor. In addition, she can talk and communicate effectively with hospital staff. I recommend Anne without any hesitation. Anne can be reached at annedelp [at] Gloria

I have a wonderful doula to recommend. Trina Mackie (trinamackie [at] was an invaluable member of our birth team. She was all the things we'd hoped for, warm, a great listener, and knowledgeable. She provided great support to my husband, sister and friend, providing information and encouragement and never usurping their roles. She is getting her graduate degree at the School of Public Health, so she was helpful in providing and interpreting research on difficult decisions. She is bi-lingual (Spanish) and utilized a reboso which was very helpful. Regarding your question about religion/culture, while she isn't Jewish, we are, and she was fully respectful of our cultural choices. My husband and I agreed her fee was the best money we ever spent, and it wasn't a lot - we interviewed one doula who cost a little more and another who cost a little less. She includes two thorough pre-birth visits, as long as you want her during labor and birth, an hour or so post birth ! to help with lactation, etc. and a wonderful post visit/de-briefing. She took only such photos as we wanted taken and gave us a wonderful keepsake of pictures and her remembrances. She had many great techniques for laboring without pain meds that kept me in good stead for 15.5 hours. Ultimately complications arose beyond anyone's power to change and I had to have a C-section, so I especially treasure the natural and supported time with Trina leading my birth team while I labored and pushed. I recommend without hesitation Trina as an excellent doula. I wish you the best in your birth. Naomi

Doula who is inexpensive or in-training

July 2008

I am looking for any recommendations for a sliding scale doula or one in training. My husband and I are both students and can't really afford costly doula at the moment. If you know of anyone, let me know.

To the woman looking for an inexpensive doula, I am the co-founder of Cornerstone Doula Trainings , we have many new doula's that are needing clients ! They are either volunteer, or low cost , depending on where they are in their training process. Check out our website and see if our philosophy matches what you are looking for in a doula. Hope to hear from you ! Juli Tilsner juli

doula for twins

July 2008

I am interested in doula recommendations. I am having twins and am pretty comfortable with the idea of using drugs or having a c-section if my doctor thinks it is necessary. I am looking for a doula who would be okay with this, has experience with twin births, can support me (massage would be great) and my husband through this and offers post-partum services. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Sara

Lynn Fraley is an excellent, experienced doula who has worked (in the past) at Alta Bates as a nurse in Labor and Delivery Recovery. She is an excellent doula, warm, compassionate and knowledgeable. anonymous

doula after difficult first childbirth

July 2008

I am looking for a referral for a Doula that is warm, loves working with people, and can help with anxieties from my first labor & delivery. She needs to have strong/good communication skills and be able to follow through. I am planning on having this next child w/o any drugs. I need someone who can help me stay motivated to have a natural birth. I had a very rough labor with my first, pushed for 4 hours straight, and ended up with the spinal migraine from the epidural. My OB seemed annoyed through the whole labor, which wasn't helpful, and she never came back after I had my little girl to see how we were doing. If she would have come back like she said, she probably would have caught the fact that I had the spinal migraine. Instead I had to spend two painful weeks trying to nurse my baby and figure this out on my own(with the help of a lactation consultant I had called). I had to go back to labor & delivery for a ''blood patch'', they found six hematomas in my spine from where the epidural was administered. I was less than thrilled to have them put another needle in my spine, since my first experience with the anesthesiologist was awful. It's obvious that I have a lot of anxiety and fear due to this experience. So many thanks to those who can take the time to give me some leads on a great Doula! m

please call Jen Miriam Kantor if you are looking for a fantastic doula. She has experience with pregnancy, birth and postpartum, plus she is a bodyworker and has her Master's Degree in perinatal somatic psychology so she is super well-rounded and integrated. She can be a great resource for additional sessions if you need massage and/or therapeutic process work. She is super warm and a great listener!! Contact her at 510-318-4596 anon

I gave birth to my first child two months ago and had a WONDERFUL doula!! Trina Mackie was EXCELLENT!!! I could not have done it without her support and guidance. I had debated whether or not to have a doula--and I am so glad that I did-- and that it was Trina.

I was in labor for 23 hours and Trina was by my side the entire time! My labor started at 10pm. I called Trina and she was at my house within 30 minutes--through the night--through the following day and night at the hospital. She was definitely a calming force. We had great communication and developed a great rhythm. She really read my body signals well and was a tremendous help easing the pain of the contractions.

After a long labor, I ended up having a C-section. Trina continued to be wonderfully supportive and caring throughout the whole procedure. She stayed with me until after my son was born and in the recovery room for several hours. She did not leave the hospital until 3am. She was with me for a total of 28 hours!

Trina helped make the experience so much better. I will always be grateful for her help and support.

I found Trina through a recommendation and she was truly a god send. I highly recommend her.

You can contact Trina Mackie--By Your Side Doula Services trinamackie [at] 415.630.0173(cell) 510.540.7262 (home) I wish you the best with your second birth. lmco

I worked with Emily Ross for postpartum care and she was great. Two new mom friends had her as their doula. They both said she provided amazing support and care throughout their birth experiences and helped them avoid c-sections. She does massage too. She is very experienced and caring. There is a previous recommendation for her in the archives under ''doulas who do massage.'' She can be reached at 510-224-7255. Samantha

This is a late reply, but I can highly recommend Miss Linda Grimes. She was a *very* supportive, flexible, and dedicated doula before and during my long (40 hour) labor. She helped me work through my questions and fears in articulating my birth plan and also came by my house before the birth for a massage and to practice movement, breathing, vision & relaxation strategies. She was so good that several of the L nurses asked for her business card. She can be reached at 510/658.5317 Jen

Seeking a doula of color

May 2008

Hi! I am 35 weeks and looking for a doula of color. It's a little late, but I would like some support for the birth and postpartum. There are some recs on BPN for doulas of color, but they are old. If anyone knows of a good African-American or Latina doula without an agenda, please let me know. Thanks! carmen

For doulas of color: I adore Linda Jones-Mixon and would have her at my birth in a heartbeat. Also check out Nia Birth Services and Sistahs of the Good Birth. I know many doulas from both and (from my interactions with them) they are kind, respectful, compassionate women dedicated to making every birth they attend better for both mom and baby. All the info can be found here: Hope your birth is safe and satisfying! Sam

Linda Mixon-Jones helped me through intense back labor with my first baby, has a wonderful sense of humor and unflappable calm coaching style, dealt well with my demanding and opinionated (Chinese) mom, has great hands and clearly years and years of experience, took great photos of my daughter at birth, walked me through breastfeeding, and happens to African American. She also runs Waddle and Swaddle on Shattuck. My husband and I really enjoyed and appreciated having her there. She is awesome! linda

doula for 2nd birth at Kaiser Oakland

May 2008

I am looking for a doula for my second birth coming this fall at Kaiser Oakland. During my first birth, I was stuck in transition for seven hours (I finally asked for the epidural after six). I believe I got stuck in transition because when I got to the hospital in active labor, I got scared and the pain of the contractions made me alternate between fear and anger. I tensed up and although I was 100% dilated at one point, nothing happened and I was in hell. I almost lost my mind trying to escape from the pain, fear and anger. I am looking for a doula this time who will do more than help me breathe through a contraction, or massage me. She will need to deal with my emotional state first and foremost, to keep me from descending into hell and stalling my labor. And she should have different techniques to help when labor stalls. Do you of anyone who could keep you sane when you were going insane? Thanks for your help! Anon

I'm sorry to hear that your labor was so intense and fearful, and I think having a doula will improve your chances of a more pleasant labor the next time around. Although I didn't have the same kind of experience you had, I can highly recommend Mary Ellen Escalante (Full Flower Doula Services). She works very closely with you to learn about your needs and wishes so she can provide the best possible support. And even if one of you decided it wasn't the right match, I think she'd be able to refer you to someone who might be right for you. Mary Ellen is very loving and encouraging, and my birth would not have been the same without her! She also does a great job of supporting the birth partner, which in turn creates more support for the mom. My husband was very glad she was with us during my labor. Mary Ellen can be reached at (707) 246-5720 or escalante7 [at] Best of luck to you and your little one!

doula for first birth in Berkeley

April 2008

My husband and I moved to Berkeley a few months ago and are expecting our first child July 6. Our OB practice promises we'll have one of its 16 doctors deliver our baby (yipes!) and we realized that we need a constant to help us through this whole process. In addition, we will probably use an epidural. Does anyone have a Doula they can recommend? Someone who can help with birthing techniques, be there at the delivery, and possibly postpartum nights. Your help is incredibly appreciated. Thank you in advance... Jennifer

We are expecting in June and have hired Ann Hayman. She has delivered over 125 babies, is a DONA assistant instructor, licensed massage therapist, and knows acupressure as related to birth and delivery. Her website is If she is booked for that week, she would be able to refer you to another qualified doula. Good luck! Madelyn

You're in great luck, because there seems to be a very talented pool of doulas in the Bay area. I would heartily recommend my doula Linda Jones Mixon (She also runs Waddle and Swaddle on Shattuck, a wonderful store and also great resource place). Linda is very down to earth, and really knows what she is doing. She is non-judgemental, and coached me and my husband together through some agonizing back labor. She helped us both work towards the kind of birth we were hoping for, and handled my (prickly, intrusive, opinionated and very beloved) mom with finesse. she is a great advocate (got me into the shower to spray warm water on my back, even though I was hooked up to a pitocin drip. coached me on laboring in different positions to turn the baby around. I don't think I would have gotten that from anyone else, even though we had wonderful nurses at Alta Bates). She has great hands, a wonderful sense of calm and sense of humor, and also took some awesome first shots of my ! daughter that I will treasure forever. And she does postpartum doula work too. (When we signed on for bith, that came with a couple visits before and a visit after). jooper

I had a great doula !!! Her name is Wendy Kenin and her number is 510.504.4937. I gave birth in October 2007. Wendy never left my side during 40 plus hours of labor, took her direction from what I wanted while also making great suggestions, supported my birth plan and made sure it was followed by the Kaiser nurses and midwives. She was never once intimidated or scared of anything, kept up great energy even when the rest of us were tired, and had complete faith in my ability to give birth in any way that I chose. I would choose her again in a heartbeat. She is warm, experienced, smart, and totally present. She also knew when to step back and be quiet and she got along with every part of my birth team. She gave great help and support before and after delivery, too. I recommend her highly! Mary S

doula in the East Bay

March 2008

Hi, I was wondering if anyone can recommend a doula in the East Bay, in either Oakland or Alameda? My husband and I have begun looking for one, (due the first of August). Any recommendation would be greatly appreciated, thank you! C.C.

I would like to recommend Emily Ross as a wonderful doula. She is located in Oakland, and is warm, professional, knowledgable and just plain good at what she does. Our son is now 5 weeks old (our first) and I can honestly say that our birth was a beautiful and wonderful experience - and I believe that Emily had a huge part in making it that way. We labored at home as long as possible (my preference) and gave birth at Kaiser in Oakland. I am happy to share my experience more if you are interested. Emily Ross' phone number is 224-7255. Good luck. Meridith

I would like to highly recommend Anna Bahnson as a doula. She was fabulous and helped make the birth of our son a wonderful experience. Anna is extremely warm and friendly, but also incredibly professional and organized. Right from the first phone conversation I had with her, she instilled in me confidence and a sense of comfort and calmness. During the pre-natal visits, she spent a lot of time answering our innumerable questions about various aspects of the birth process. She helped us draft a birth plan and we did an art session. Her support during our laboring at home was great: she was very good at taking cues from me and setting a tone of support that was not intrusive. She was skilled with acupressure. Equally important, she provided tremendous support for my husband and facilitated his taking a greater role in the birth process than he had anticipated. In the hospital, she gave us helpful advice about medical options. Both our midwife and the hospital nurse commented on how great a team player she was and how much they liked working with her. Finally, she was tremendously helpful in the post-partum process--both over the phone and in person. She was always responsive with suggestions and/or referrals throughout the pre and post-natal periods. I should also add that her photography skills are excellent! Both my husband and I agree that we cannot say enough good things about Anna and would be happy to provide more information for anyone looking for or thinking about having a doula. catherine

Seeking a great doula for support during labor

Feb 2008

Does anyone know a of a great doula - we're in our 40s, and really just need support for the later part of labor - don't require lots of prep and education. Thank you so much for any recommendations !

I highly recommend Stacia Biltekoff. She was our doula about 19 months ago, and she was absolutely great. She was a great fit for me and my husband, knew just what to do and how involved to be (or not) depending on the ever changing flow of the labor and delivery. It turned out to be a long time at the hospital and she was great at making sure our family who was waiting outside the delivery area was kept in the loop. She has been a doula for years now. She is a calm, happy presence, and I don't think you'd be disappointed. I would give her a call soon to see if she is available around your due date. Her email is staciadoula [at], and her phone is 510-543-8411 (at least that is the last contact I have for her hopefully still current) susie

doula open to medication and intervention

Jan 2008

I am looking for a doula for a May 2008 birth at Alta Bates who is open to medication and intervention. I have a great ob/gyn, Dr. Amy Huibonhoa, who is very supportive of my having a doula. I know that some doulas only want to work with clients who are aiming for medication-free births, so I am looking for recommendations of doulas who specifically are open to clients who may use medication and will be willing to work with me. Does anyone have any recent experience with someone in the Berkeley area? Dana

I recommend Tomi Knutson. She is open to all types of births, has the most wonderful demeanor & is experienced in both hospital & birthing center births. She is really wonderful. Her contact information is 510-502-5799 or dancingdoulabirthservices [at] I hope this helps. Anon

Our Doula, Annie Olinick, was wonderful with the birth of my son. She is supportive of births with or without medication - basically supports what you want. She lives in SF but has attended several East Bay deliveries. Really lovely lady. Annie O. 802-989-9021

I highly recommend Treesa Mclean as a doula. She has more than 25 years of experience, and was a real lifesaver for us before, during, and after our daughter's birth. She is a one-stop shop of information about pregnancy, labor, childbirth, postpartum recovery and breastfeeding. She is kind, non-judgmental and no-nonsense. Her number is 510-581-1013. Very happy mother

2005 - 2007 Recommendations

Doula in the San Ramon, Castro Valley area

Oct 2007

I was wondering if anyone has a recommendation on doulas in the San Ramon, Castro Valley or the vicinity areas. I had an emergency c-section with my first baby and at this time I would like to find a qualified and sensitive doula for my second baby. Please advice. Vicky 

I highly recommend Shanna Keller. She was wonderfully supportive, knowledgeable and was really great during the birth process. My husband LOVED her, and was grateful she was there. She can be reached at 707 246 5728. (Her being in Vallejo wasn't a problem -- I delivered at Alta Bates, and she arrived in more than enough time). Andrea

I used Erin Crowe for all three of my kids. She's great. Very experienced. She's seen almost everything, and she's really helpful. She's knows what most of the local doctors are like, and she's very familiar with the hospital's SOP's. Call her and set up a meeting, 510-654-9096. Feel free to call me, 510-525-1963. JoAnne

Oct 2007

For the birth of our child, we went with our instincts and decided to work with Joan Taylor. Throughout the period leading up to the birth she made herself available to address our concerns and allay our apprehensions. At the birth she was very supportive, providing a much needed and appreciated grounding influence during a very bewildering and trying experience. You go into a birth with some trepidation because anything can happen and no one knows beforehand how it will go down. We didn\xc2\x92t know what was going on and trusted Joan. Though at Alta Bates, I wanted to birth drug free. Unfortunately, it was an induced labor, but if it hadn\xc2\x92t been for Joan\xc2\x92s presence I\xc2\x92m certain I would\xc2\x92ve had an epidural and I did deliver vaginally. Joan made the memory of the birth pleasant. Our baby is seven months old now, but we continue to call on Joan from time to time for advice and she has become a family friend. Siwany, Greg, and Lila

I have wanted to post this message regarding Joan Taylor for some time, but have been tied up with a new baby. After reading this review, I feel I must submit my experience with Joan. My husband and I chose Joan largely on our level of comfort with her, and in retrospect, did not fully interview her as we should have. However, at the start of our relationship, I already began wondering whether she was the right doula for us since she was not consistent about returning calls. It would literally take 2 weeks to hear back from her whenever I called. We brushed it off as, ''oh, Joan is a people person, and not a business person.'' Well, the birth of our baby turned out to be very quick- an emergency C-section. As a result, Joan's services amounted to at most, 2 hours. I had a very difficult time at the hospital after the baby was born, and remember feeling like I had to beg Joan to come and help us out. After our 2-3 weeks post-partum visit, I spoke with her about our discomfort about paying her full rate, (which is one of the highest I encountered during our doula search), given the fact that she spent so little time on our birth. Joan promised me that she would give us extra post-partum work to make up for the lack of time she spent during the birth. After this meeting, I never saw Joan again. A month passed, then two, and phone calls were made, and were never returned. At 3 months post-partum, I finally wrote her a letter, telling her how upset we were with her not living up to her promise of giving us additional post-partum sessions, and how she completely stopped communicating with us after she was paid in full. I asked her to live up to her promise, or else reimburse us for part of the money. She never did. Instead, I got an e-mail shortly thereafter explaining that she had been ill, and again, promising us post-partum work. Did she contact us? you guessed it- no. To anyone out there looking for a doula, I would advise: 1) trust your instincts: and 2) make sure you thoroughly interview any candidates, and go with the person whom you trust thoroughly. You are not hiring a friend; it is a professional relationship you're establishing. s

I have wanted to write a response about this for a while (my daughter is now almost 9 months old) but have not had the energy or desire to venture into this, for me, a negative topic. We decided to hire a doula for the birth of our daughter. A close friend of mine is a doula and I whole-heartedly believe in the services they can provide at a birth. I also wanted to go drug-free.

After interviewing about 4 doulas, we decided to hire Joan Taylor. After our first pre-delivery meeting, my gut was telling me that this might not have been a good decision. She insisted that we call her first before calling our doctor, which I found strange. I felt that she was patronizing in her responses to some of my questions. I talked it over with my husband and we decided to stick with her (we had already paid half of the fee). My amniotic fluid started leaking on a Saturday night, but there were no contractions. The next morning I called Joan and she told me to just hang out for the day and see if my contractions would start. I called my Dr. on-call number and the person on call told me I would have to go to the hospital to find out if it was really amniotic fluid. Nobody seemed to be too concerned about me going to the hospital that weekend. My Dr. was away at a conference and I really wanted him to deliver our baby.

On Monday morning, I called Joan again and she said that maybe now I should call my Dr. When I called the office, they advised me to go to the hospital, since there is a risk of infection if the amniotic fluid leaks for more than 24 hours (I was at 36 hours by then). I called Joan and left her a message at 1 pm that we were heading to the hospital. She didn't call back until 5 pm (yes - she knew I was going to the hospital). At that point, they had decided to induce me. Joan told me that I didn't need to be induced in the evening. She said most women are not induced in the evening. I was literally sitting on the bed, with the nurse getting ready to put the IV in and Joan telling me, they should take it out and that I should go have dinner and rest. I decided to go ahead with the induction, which she was not happy about and made no qualms of letting me know.

She told me to call her in a couple of hours or when the contractions started. I talked to her again at 9 pm and she told me again that they should stop the induction. At 10:30 pm, I called her back and told her all of this wasn't working for me. She wasn't emotionally supporting me, I did not hire her to provide medical advice (I have an awesome Dr. that I trust). I had hired her to provide me support for my labor. I was literally on the verge of firing her right then and there but didn\xc2\x92t since I had not had a single contraction. When I hung up the phone, my water finally broke and my contractions set in within 30 seconds. We called Joan again and she told us to labor for a while.

At 1 am, I was 8 cm dilated and they called Joan and my Dr. She showed up after my Dr. did. She gave us the impression that she really did not want to come to the hospital that night. Now, the one good thing she did is get me in the shower to ease the labor pain. And that I am sad to say was it. After 3 hours of pushing, my Dr. suggested that he should do an episiotomy. Again, Joan objected but at this point, I really didn't care anymore. I had talked this topic through with my Dr. ahead of time and knew that he was someone who believed in letting labor go the natural way as much as possible. After he did the cut, my daughter almost flew out.

All the group pictures in the Labor and Delivery room, Joan is holding my baby. I don\xc2\x92t think she kept me in mind at all. I truly and honestly believe they are people out there who get a high from seeing a baby come into this world. At the post-delivery visit, she told me again that I didn\xc2\x92t need to be induced nor have an episiotomy. In summary, she tried to make me feel bad about my labor and the choices we made. She also didn\xc2\x92t bring any tea or herbs as she had promised, which are supposed to help with milk production. In my sleep-deprived state of mind, I just didn\xc2\x92t have the energy to tell her how I really felt.

So the very long and now short of this is: 1.) If you are going to hire a doula and you are delivering at a hospital, make sure that she is ok with medical intervention. 2.) If your gut is telling you that it might not be a good fit \xc2\x96 pull out! My husband did great (we now call him the honorary \xc2\x93doulo\xc2\x94). 3.) There are good doulas out there. Take your time to interview them and don\xc2\x92t pay the fee until you have had at least 2-3 meetings. Joan really charmed us and it turned out to be a terrible fit. She is the one thing that leaves a negative feeling about my delivery in my mind (and the reason it has taken me 9 months to put this in writing). Good Luck with your doula search. anon

I hadn't planned to write to BPN about my negative experience with doula Joan Taylor, but after reading two recent posts, I thought I'd chime in to second the negative opinions. My husband and I hired Joan on the strength of a recommendation and her warm and gentle air in the interview, but were very disappointed by her actual performance during the birth of our child. She arrived at the hospital tired (and complaining of it), and was fairly uninvolved, both physically and emotionally, during my long and difficult labor. Her coaching didn't do me any good; she spent much of the time dozing in a chair across the room, repeating the same unhelpful phrases over and over. I actually felt scolded rather than supported much of the time, as my labor failed to progress--as though it were my fault. As ''One Angry Mama'' said, Joan charges top dollar, and we scrimped and sacrificed to pay her high fee. We regret it. I write this not out of spite or the desire to hurt her personally. I just honestly want to save other prospective parents out there from making the same mistake, given how very much it costs to have a baby and raise a child in the Bay Area. Also anonymous

we chose joan taylor because we felt that she had the right energy to provide calming support during the birth process. however, she ended up being a bit of a disappointment. during our prenatal visits, joan insisted that we call her first, before calling my doctor, at the first signs of labor, even if my water broke. one day before my due date, my amniotic sac began to slip out of me. my husband called 911 first, then called joan. he had clearly woken her up and it took her awhile to become clear and present (admittedly it was the middle of the night but her contract stated she would be 'on-call' for us 24/7 for the 4 weeks around the due date). at first my husband thought he had the wrong number. when joan finally realized who he was and he was able to tell her that paramedics were on their way to our house, she asked him, ''what should i do?''. my husband obviously didn't know what to tell her to do so he said he'd call her back later. the paramedics ended up transporting me to the hospital, when we got there, 15 minutes after our first call, he called again and had exactly the same thing happen- she had clearly fallen back into a deep sleep and then when she came to, she asked him what she should do. again he didn't know what to tell her but she did call back 10 minutes later and he told her i was 7 centimeters dilated and in very active labor. to her credit, her response was ''i'll be right there'', and she was. joan was fairly helpful during the labor/birth process, including that she helped get me into a shower with warm water and she encouraged me to wait as long as possible before pushing.

after the birth, we didn't hear from her for over 7 weeks. we had established during our prenatal visits that a post partum visit within 1-2 weeks was a part of her service, and it was in her contract that this was the case. when i discussed this with her on the phone, she said she had been waiting for me to call her and that was why she never called us to check in. she said i should have remembered that when she left the hospital after the birth she told me to call. she also asked me how was she supposed to know when i would be discharged from the hospital? i was pretty shocked at her excuses- that she couldn't figure out when i would be discharged from the hospital, that she had expected me to remember anything she told me within the hour after i gave birth, but also at how defensive she was about the feedback i gave her. in fact, all of the feedback that is being posted here, along with additional feedback, was given to joan over the phone by me and she was not receptive to it at all. had she been, i would have appreciated that she took it in and would go on to improve her future practice, and i would not have felt compelled to submit a posting to this newsletter so that others wouldn't have to go through what we did.

Doula for delivery at Kaiser Oakland

Sept 2007

Hi. I'm 8 weeks away from giving birth and I am finally in search of a doula. I am somewhat new to the area and will be giving birth at Oakland Kaiser. I would prefer someone who is familiar with the Oakland Kaiser staff & facility as well as someone who is knowledgable in massage. I had horrible back labor with my first child and massage was the only thing that got me through without drugs. I also wanted to know how parents handled the care of their first child while in labor? She's only 3 years old and has never been apart from me for more than 6 hours. Thanks!

In regards to finding a doula, I would check the listings at Birthways. All the doulas I have met through volunteering with this org have been wonderful. As for care, I had a homebirth when my first son was 2 years 2 months old and we had a family friend come over when labor started and stay with him through the whole process. I had prepared him for the sounds I would be making while I worked to push his brother out, and he wasn't bothered a bit. He mostly wanted to play with the friend and watch a show downstairs. My labor was at night, so they fell asleep together and she stayed the next day to hang out and help out. A neighbor friend of ours just had her second at home as well and did the same thing for her three year old and it worked out well. Having someone consistent that your child is familiar with and likes is important in my opinion, and the last thing you need to worry about while you are in labor is ''is my child ok/happy/taken care of/fed/etc.'' Good luck! sam

Try Joan Taylor at 510 482-8927. I don't know if she can give last minute services, but she was my doula and, not to be crude, but she saved my ass. Good luck, and also: Waddle and Swaddle is a great resource center. It looks just like a store, but that is where I've had my most constructive advice, and it's kept me from going crazy after giving birth (6 months ago). 510 540-7210 siwany

I highly recommend Judy Ballinger - aksharadoula [at] She helped with the births of both our children. I don't know about massage but she does acupressure. Also, positioning often helps with back pain. Were you lying on you back during the last birth? That can really contribute to back pain. As for care of your older child; we had grampa take care of our son when the baby was born. Whoever you decide, you might try taking some time off and letting your kid get used to a few hours away from mommy before the baby comes. congratulations

Call Stacia Biltekoff- she was my doula, and helped my husband and me through a challenging birth, and was amazing for the nearly 24h it took to birth our beautiful little boy over one year ago. You might get lucky- she may be available. Contact her at 510-543-8411 or staciadoula[at] Stacia fan

Doula student or low-cost doula?

May 2007

Hi All, I am looking for a doula student or a lowcost doula in the Berkeley area. We are delivering at Alta Bates aroun July 24th. Thanks Liz

I used Annie Chavez and she did a great job. She is very calm and knew just what to do when things got tough. She shines under pressure which is just what you need during the birth. She was also a great help to my husband. We paid her $300 (my husband insisted on giving her $100 more than we had decided on). I think that she has decided to make $300 her fee. You can reach her at 510 684 9767, 510 277 0360, anna.esperanza [at] Good luck, Karen

Just wanted to share my experiences regarding a doula. I delivered my baby at a training hospital and before i went i did a lot of research about the hospital because i had heard it is a training facility. i wanted a doula prior - my partner and i did a lot of research on that too. i got there in not in labor - my water broke but i wasn't doing much. we gave it 12 hours and i still wasnt' doing much. i had wanted to be open to pain medicine but felt some pressure from my doula that i shouldn't. To make a long story short, the resident doctors (Dr. Sokari and Dr. sadhigy? took good care of me - they were so supportive and warm - i found out later that they were residents but my partner and I always felt we were in good hands. By the time i was 4 cm i was really hurting and wanting things to progress. I was so tired. My doula sort of made me feel again, like i shouldn't want pain medicine or shouldn't want to listen to what the doctors had to say. It was difficult situation because there was a difference of opinion about how my labor should go. I ended up getting to 9 with pitocin after 36 hours and then my baby's heart beat dropped. The doctors were worried about my baby and discussed that I might need a c section if the heart beat didn't come up. Thankfully it did. I pushed for 2 hours without an epidural and then at the end I needed a vacuum because Alison's heart beat dropped again. Havinga vacuum without an epidural was terrifying to me. Thankfully, she came out healthy and is doing very well but I think that if I had had an epidural, and a more supportive doula things would have been easier. Just remember for all those moms out there who are putting out the money to get a doula, make sure its one that is supportive of your decision to get pain medicine if you need it and work with the doctors and not against them. The patient is the one in labor... and only she knows what she is going through. The doula should be an advocate for your needs, not for what she thinks you need. j leigh

Seeking a doula of color

May 2007

Greetings, I am in search of a Doula of color in Oakland/Berkeley. Preferably someone that is either on a sliding scale, doing their Doula school so need to do the free service, or will accept Medi-Cal. This is my second child, and I realize now the importance of a Doula. Anyone know of any? Thanks ERicka

I believe that the woman that owns Waddle and Swaddle on Shattuck is a doula of color. You may want to give her a call. If by chance she is no longer working as a doula, she is very knowledgable of the local Birthing community and will more than likely have some names for you. onikalh

Virginia Duplessis is a doula of color with a sliding scale. We hired Virginia because we felt very comfortable with her. Our baby's birth was completely natural. Having Virginia there put me at ease and made my husband and I feel confident in labor. Bethany

Berkeley doula for Alta Bates birth

May 2007

My wife and I are looking for a Doula in the Berkeley area for Alta Bates. I noticed that most of the recommendations are a couple years old and was wondering if anyone has any more recent recommendations. Thanks! Desmond

Evy Rich was our doula for our baby born 12/1/06. Evy was amazing, supportive, non-intrusive, well informed, extremely open and comforting. We really thought she did a super job. My birth was made much more survivable due to her presence. She is great!!!! Please contact her and tell her that Joanna and Rowan say hello! Joanna

I highly recommend Judy Ballinger she helped us with the births of both our children at Alta Bates. her e-mail: aksharadoula [at] doula fan

I highly recommend Besty Appell. My daughter was born September 2006. I had an extremely long labor and Betsy played a key role in helping us get through it both at home and at the hospital. She is very knowledgeable about labor and delivery, highly organized and responsive, and has a wonderful, calming presence. Laura

We used Betsy Appell for our birth classes and she was great. We didn't use her doula services but know others who have and they rave about her. If you sign up for her doula services it includes the birth classes as well. she can be reached at Melissa

I would highly recommend Trina Mackie. I found an immediate connection with her after our first interview. She knew how to ask the right questions and also heard what the expectant mom needed. She scheduled a follow-up meeting close to the birth to make sure we were all still on the same page. We had several telephone updates in the weeks leading up to the birth. My worst fear was starting labor in the middle of the night and having to deal with transporting my 3 year old to a friend's house. When I went into serious labor at 3 a.m., exactly as I feared, she was at my house in less than 30 minutes ready, calm, cheerful. She was the much-needed voice in my ear that helped me navigate a fast labor without falling apart. She addressed the panicked labor room nurses as they tried to push an epidural (I arrived at 7 centimeters and was at 9 about soon after getting into a delivery room!). I feel so lucky that she was by my side. I have no doubt she would have been as calm, resourceful, and ready should my labor have lasted all day and all night. Her email is trinamackie [at] and her number is 510-540-7262. She is also listed on the East Bay Doula Circle List at

I had Betsy Appell as my doula at Alta Bates in January 2007. She was wonderful. My husband didn't know what a doula was when I said I wanted one. He was afraid they would be too hippy dippy and didn't know why I needed one. After meeting Betsy, he changed his mind. She brought so much information and support to us in a caring, non-judgemental way. She was a comfort to me and my husband was very comfortable with her. Betsy was very familiar about the process at Alta Bates, which was such a relief for us as well. We really enjoyed her birthing class which is part of her doula services. At the birth, she actually helped the baby get into a better position with the suggestion of some leg lunges. I think I would have been in labor much longer without that. She is also knowledgeable about meditation, hypnobirthing and yoga besides general baby/birthing info. Her website is She tends to get booked up, so definately contact her. Good luck in your search. Stacey

We would strongly recommend our wonderful Berkeley Doula Betsy Appell. We were quite unsure about whether a doula would be a good thing for us, as we are not new-agey, natural medicine types and we were not dead set against use of pain medication. But the birth our first child was such a scary, over- medicalized affair, that we decided to give Betsy a try for the birth of our second child. Boy what a difference it made. Betsy was totally willing to go along with our wishes, but she gently introduced us to a much more natural perspective on the whole process. In the end, this birth was a beautiful thing (with no medication, incidentally.) Instead of being focused on avoiding emergencies, as we were with our first birth, we spent much of my labor enjoying walks and relaxing. Betsy was also great about keeping my husband at center stage. I was also able to join Betsy's prenatal yoga class at Berkeley YMCA, which ended up being kind of an extra bonus. Now I find myself wishing I could have a doula for other gruelling life experiences (the kindergarten-selection process, helping my aging parents deal with life's end, getting through the week, etc...) Happy Mom in Berkeley

I have to recommend the best Doula! Her name is Wendy Rolan. Her phone number is 510-384-7407. I cannot say enough good things about my experience with having Wendy as my Doula. I do know for a fact that because of Wendy, I was able to have the drug-free, all natural birth I wanted. Wendy was everything I needed during labor and birth: warm, gentle, knowledgeable, calm, understanding, never judging me, always there. Her expertise is invaluable. She was so great during the entire process, has even helped me a lot with post partum/breastfeeding issues. If you want to hear me gush any more about how fabulous she is, feel free to email me. If a positive birthing experience is important to you, hiring Wendy will be the best investment you'll ever make. Elizabeth

After some intense searching for a doula, my husband and I found Betsy Appell, and i can't tell you how happy we were with her. She was a rock for us in so many ways, and if we have another baby and we're in the area we'd would hire her again in a second. When you hire her as your doula she includes a hypno-birthing class to give you lots of good tools to prepare for the birth, a cd with her voice leading you into a relaxed state so that when the time comes you're used to relaxing with her voice, and an incredible binder full of very helpful info. If i had more time i'd sing her praises more- she was definitely one of the most positive things about my daughter's birth! Feel free to contact me with any questions about our experience with Betsy. Larissa

Virginia Duplessis attended both my births at Alta Bates and she's WONDERFUL! With her support, I delivered naturally both times. We chose her out of about 4 doulas my husband and I interviewed. She has everything we were looking for: she is a young mother, calm, experienced, took great when my husband was too involved in the delivery room, is flexible and so on. Just drop her a note to see if she's available around your due date... if so, just meet her once. You'll know when you find the right fit! If you want more details, please contact me. Virginia Duplessis, MSW, CD (DONA) vduplessis [at] (510) 287-8789

Doulas for delivery at Alta Bates

April 2007

Hi, I'd like to get some recent recommendations for a doula for my friend who is due at the end of May. They have checked the archives for recs, but would like some more recent info. They are thinking of hypnobirthing, but that's not really a necessary pre-req for the doula. They will be using Alta Bates and a doctor (not a midwife). Thanks jeanne

I would like to recommend Deanna Jesus. She helped me greatly with the birth of my son, who is now 2 years old. And she came through on the last minute, too! My original doula had to cancel, so I met her a week before my due date (thinking we had a few days, ha ha). My water broke early the next morning, I called her up, and she met us at Alta Bates. She was wonderful. More info can be found here, including her email and phone number: [at] Lori

We used Amanda MacDonald for the birth of our second child. She attended Hypnobirthing classes with us, so she is familiar with it. She was really great both in the visits before the birth - lots of information & not hardline about anything - & also at the hospital during labor. She wasn't touchy-feely, which was what my husband was worried about, but had a very calming, soothing presence. Her contact info is: amanda[at] KB

We had a wonderful doula, Ann Hayman. She helped educate us before the birth and gave crucial support during labor, without being intrusive. 415-826-7121, Sophia

lower-cost doulas with experience working at CPMC

Dec 2006

We are giving birth to our first child in February '07 at Cal Pacific Med Center (in SF). We are ideally looking for recommendations or referrals of lower-cost doulas with previous experience working at CPMC through delivery (preferably natural). Many thanks for any suggestions! Elaine

My doula is fabulous, Laura Pliska, 415/297-9258 cell. She's done many births as CPMC (where my first and soon second child will be born). She charges on a sliding scale. She can also recommend other high quality doulas. Her backup (Rachel) and another doula Michelle Wellborn (yes, that really is her last name, she did not change it!) are also great and do sliding scale fees. Amy in SF

Doula to help with twins delivery

Oct 2006

I am looking for an experienced doula to help me deliver twins as naturally las possible in Walnut Creek -- John Muir Medical CEnter. Any recommendations? Also - is it unrealistic to believe that I can deliver twins naturally? My OB isn't too optimistic and I'm barely in my second trimester! Sara

get a doula! they will make sure your perspective is right. your body can do this naturally. i have a friend who had twins naturally - she wanted a tub birth but the babies BOTH came out too fast. don't let your ob discourage you. i would find one who believes in you anon

I have 2YO boy/girl twins and did not have a natural birth due to complications (nothing too serious, everybody is happy and healthy). But, having known over 75 twin moms through support groups in Berkeley and elsewhere, I may be able to offer some general advice for your situation. It seems that the delivering pediatrician (yours or the one on call) will have their own perspective on if twins can be delivered naturally. It seems to have to do with their comfort level on breech extraction of the 2nd baby and managing a potentially more complex birth. The more straightforward (conservative?) route seems c-section. At UCSF where they see more high risk cases, in general, they're very comfortable with natural birth (with an epidural inserted but not ''on'' and in an operating room, however). Places like John Muir, with less high risk cases will tend to have less experience and may be more reluctant. These are just my impressions!! A doula may or may not be able to affect your situation once you're in labor. (Lots of times it won't be your doc on call to deliver your babies). I suggest getting a delivery location and doc that aligns with your thoughts rather than counting on a doula to intervene when the time comes. Twim Mom

Good doulas in the 500 or less category?

Sept 2006

Are there any good doulas out there who are closer to the $500 or less category? Or any SUPERB recommendations? baby coming!

Rachel Alkire is a trained doula, infant massage therapist and does acupressure bodywork. She is having a special rate (very low charge or no charge I can't remember which) for her doula clients who schedule regular acupressure sessions with her during their pregnancy - also low priced. Her email is: rachelalkire[at] or 510-684-8633 She is a great bodyworker - I recieved Tui Na (chinese massage) from her last week that was amazing Kari

I am a childbirth educator and there is a doula-in-training who is taking my class as part of her certification process. I have really enjoyed getting to know her and it sounds like she has been a great help at the births she has attended. I'm sure you could conatct some of her past clients for references. At this point, I believe she is not charging very much as she works on getting her certification. Her name is Moana Minton and can be reached at 510-866-6898 or moana.minton[at] Good Luck! Kim

Call Stacia Biltekoff at 510.543.8411, she was my doula and I recommend her highly. She met with my husband and I a few times before I went into labor and we felt completley at ease in her company. She has a very calming presence and an amazing ability to meet you where you are at during labor. My fondest memory of my labor is Stacia patiently following behind me as I walked in circles around my house pausing for each contraction with her hands surrouding my hips and back, supporting my whole being it seemed. She has an incredible gift and is extremely knowledgeable about labor, birth, and post-partum care. She is very skilled at getting the partner involved in supporting during labor and has a very good relationship with the drs and nurses at Alta Bates. Good Luck to You

Just wanted to also recommend Moana Minton for doula services. My son was her *first* birth as a doula, on April 10. I know she has done several since then. She was incredibly calming. I had more than one serious pre-existing health conditions that required me to be induced at 37 weeks, went through 3+ days of labor, then had a c-section due to infection... but the entire time, Moana was by our side, encouraging me and helping me make important decisions the entire time. I don't think she could have asked for a more intense first doula experience, but she held strong the entire time!! She did not ask for money, but we donated $300 because we were so grateful for her services. Moana.Minton[at] - Email her! If you want more info, I would be happy to give it to you. betsy

Doula in San Francisco

June 2006

I am looking for a doula in San Francisco. We are planning to deliver at UCSF. At the moment we are just interested in a labor doula, but may decide to use a postpartum one as well. I looked at previous postings, but they all seem to be pretty old. Any suggestions? Mary

I highly highly recommend our doula, Michelle Welborn. She was so wonderful, supportive, gentle but strong when I needed the encouragement in the thick of my labour. She was creative in helping me prepare for the whole labour and delivery, so that I was not really nervous going into it. I was able to labour with her at home for most of it, which was my preference. We delivered at CPMC, but I know Michelle has worked at UCSF as well. Her website is, which lists her contact info. Feel free to email me if you have additional questions.

We had Betsy Appell as our doula for the birth of our first baby in April 2006. We delivered at Kaiser Walnut Creek but she also works in SF hospitals. Her website is I had a very long labor (52 hours) & bearing most of it without pain medication would have been impossible without Betsy's help. She also offers hypnobirthing sessions (that are free for her clients) & I found them very useful. We had planned for a medication-free childbirth but things were taking a different turn (I had to take an epidural). Betsy helped us in making the correct medical decisions that enabled me to have a healthy baby boy naturally.She has a very good rapport with the nurses & the doctors & helped clarify their medical advice for us.She provided a spa-like environment in the labor-room & that helped us relax a lot. I have too many good things to say about her & most of it resonate with what her other clients have said on her website & BPN. I would highly recommend her Tandra

June 2006

Jenny Kepler has an innate gift as a doula. As my doula, she provided me calm, steady support. She came into my birthing room and transformed it from a hospital room into a delicious-smelling place with music and interesting, quiet conversation. When decisions needed to be made, my partner and I had an advocate in Jenny \xc3\x82\xc2\x96 we felt like a three-person team, which was very empowering. While the Labor & Delivery staff at Kaiser Walnut Creek was excellent, we wanted to make this *our* birth experience, driven by our values. When unfamilar issues came up, Jenny was able to help us make more informed decisions, providing information and drawing from her experience so that our birth experience remained in line with our values and wishes, even though it differed from how we imagined it.

Jenny also unobtrusively massaged me just where I needed it, and showed my partner and I acupressure points to help along my labor. She stayed with us throughout a 43-hour labor, and was a constant source of positive energy \xc3\x82\xc2\x96 so much so that my partner and I don\xc3\x82\xc2\x92t know what we would have done without her! If you are looking for a doula, Jenny Kepler jenny_kepler[at] has my highest recommendation. Robin

May 2006

I had the most wonderful experience with my doula Anne Delp. She met with me at my house before my due date. She was open to whatever method I wanted to go with.

My intention was to have a natural birth. I'd been taking hypnotherapy classes and she was prepared for how I wanted my birth to go.

My water broke but no contractions came and I was worried the hospital would push lots of pitocin. I called Anne before going to the hospital and shared my fear. She offered that sometimes they can give a small amount of pitocin just to get the contractions started. What a great piece of advice! The nurse at the hospital wanted to start me on heavy pitocin, based on Anne's advice as asked to speak to my doctor and he confirmed I could do just a small amount.

During my contractions, she helped me through several ways to effectively work through painful contractions. She helped me to walk around, sit on the ball, make noises to relieve the stress. My mom and husband were both there. They love me very much but were not equipped with the knowledge she had to help me.

Midway through my heavy contractions, I decided I really couldn't handle the natural birth as much as I'd hoped and asked for an epidural. Anne weighed my original wishes of the natural birth and encouraged me that I was almost there, then she asked my husband how married I was to the natural birth and he told her not to that extent. She easily rolled with the punches and helped me through my delivery after the epidural. My wishes were her objective. On top of it all her rates were very reasonable.

I highly recommend her to anyone considering using a doula. Bonnie

March 2006

Highest recommendation for Anna Bahnson, a very knowledgeable dula that helped us. We had done an extensive Bradley class and felt pretty informed, but knew we needed someone there with a clear head at the birth, and it made all the difference in feeling comfortable that she was there to help us make decisions, I felt great trust in her and was able to relax. We interviewed a few, and she asked great questions, and was fantastic, pragmatic and great communicator. She worked well with our medical staff, also takes excellent b/w photos. 510-459-7673 Another dula and hypnotherapist I met with for just hypnosis was Betsy Appell. Nice, smart lady and my birth was without drugs and not very painful, so, it worked well for me. Carolyn

March 2006

I HIGHLY recommend Nicki Bonifilio as a doula. She is DONA- certified, and she is just plain wonderful. Calm, confident, encouraging, knowledgable ... everything you want in a doula. Her website makes it seem like she's a bit new age-y, but she is extremely down-to-earth and very very easy to work with. She is busy, tho and may be booked already. Many people secure doulas months in advance. a very satisfied mom

March 2006

I would highly like to recommend our postpartum doula who is also a doula, Ann Regan Haynes. If I had met her before we had our doula in place, I would have loved to have her instead of the doula we did have. We were fortunate to have her for our postpartum doula. She was absolutely wonderful supporting us in our transition into a family and made it infinitely more enjoyable. But the reason I feel she would be a great doula as well, and someone like you are describing is because we had extensive conversations regarding my doula experience--my doula was very upset my labor was induced by pitocin and mainly because she felt it would be necessary for me to have pain meds because of the stronger contractions. I told Ann how insulting and angry it made me feel to not have the support of my doula since it was my OB/Gyn who wanted to have me induced. An OB/Gyn who I had seen for fifteen years and really trusted. Ann told me that it sounded like the doula had her own philosophy, but that she should have done what I wanted regardless and not let it intrude upon my labor. I also told Ann of my friend's doula horror story, where her doula actually argued with the doctors and nurses and antagonized her husband--totally stressing out my friend who ended up needing an emergency C-section. Ann said these things should not happen and explained to me that the doula's job is support the mother period. And she said unfortunately she has heard other stories like these. I know she has had numerous experiences being a doula in this area, and I am sure she could provide you with references if you like. You are welcome to contact me: 510-499-9896 or Ann Regan Haynes directly at anndoula [at] or cell:510-847-9743. Best of luck! Lucie

March 2006

Re: Non New Agey doula for Alta Bates Wanted I highly recommend my doula Chris Gonzales. She was very supportive of me and whatever decisions I wanted to make. I don't know that she has any specific medical training but she has been a doula and a doula educator for a long time. She always used the actual terms for what was happening. No talk of ''vibes''. She helped me to formulate a birth plan before the big day so I had a better idea of what I wanted. She was very helpful and not ''new agey'' at all. I interviewed one doula who went on and on about the ''sisterhood'' of women giving birth and the natural way that women can squat in a field surronded by their mothers and sisters etc. -- Fine for some, but not my cup of tea. As it turned out Chris was not able to be with me for much of my labor and sent her backup -- Felicia Roche who was also excellent and a really great advocate throughout. Good luck with your search.

March 2006

I am happy to recommend Betsy Appell as a doula. She was at my home birth 6 months ago and I can't imagine enduring the experience without her. Her presence during 8 hours of one minute on one minute off contractions was indispensible. Because of her deep meditation practice she is unflappable and very calming, without dismissing the emotions of the moment. She arrives when you ask with a bag of tricks for a wide variety of situations that can happen. She is the one that showed my husband how to push in my hips in a very specific way, which we used for the rest of the labor, that we would have never figured out on our own. She worked well with the midwives, but was clearly there for me first. The best part was that when my husband had to find or do something for the midwife, he had the peace of mind knowing that Betsy was there with me. I had a very physical labor and needed much more than just emotional support. Betsy and my husband both had sore muscles after the birth as a testament to their dedication in easing my discomfort (and therefore my fear). Even if you are having a home birth, consider having Betsy as your doula. I plan to have her (if she is available) at my future home births. She also teaches hypnobirthing as part of her fee, as well as prenatal yoga at the Y, which allowed me to develop a relationship with her before the birth. Her website is Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about Betsy. Cynthia

experience with doula Virginia Duplessis?

Feb 2006

Can anyone tell me about their experience with Virginia Duplessis? We are thinking about hiring her as our doula. This is our first baby, we are delivering at Alta Bates, and I would like to avoid pain medication and uneccesary medical interventions. In terms of our 'dream doula': we want someone who can be a cheerleader for me, help keep my husband calm, explain medical procedures we don't understand, and basically has a positive and energetic personality. Thanks, Excited (& and nervous) mother-to-be

Virginia was my doula for my first child and I can't say enough wonderful things about her. I can speak from my own birth experience and also as a prenatal yoga teacher who hears many many birth stories from women who have attended my classes. (I teach prenatal yoga at Alta Bates.)I see and know many wonderful doulas in the Bay Area. If you have met with two or three doulas and you feel that something clicks with one of the doulas, go with it. Once you feel that connection, she will be there with you through the process 150%. warmly, Nila

We love Virginia Duplessis. Virginia was our doula in early November for the birth of our daughter (our first baby). I labored and delivered with no pain medication and basically no medical intervention (only spent 30 minutes in the hospital before delivering since I labored at home until I was 10 cm dilated!)Virginia's warm, supportive presence and various laboring positions and techniques were invaluable. I spent a lot of time literally and figuraqtively leaning (and hanging) on her for support and really looked to her to help me make it through. After the birth of our daughter Virginia was a huge help with logistical matters in the hospital--helping us settle into our room and ''running errands'' such as getting me water and food. And she provided much needed support in the early weeks postpartum. Virginia supported my husband as well and allowed him to be a real part of the whole experience--we both felt really safe and calm with Virginia by our side. The birth of our daughter was truly a beautiful experience and we have Virginia to thank for that! Good luck to you. Kathy

Virginia was my doula and I highly recommend her. She was everything we needed her to be

To the mom looking for a doula, I highly recommend Virginia Duplessis as a calm, inspiring, friendly and knowledgable doula. She assisted with the birth of my son back in May 2005 and was fabulous. I had a different doula for the birth of my first daughter and can say that Virginia was an outstanding partner in our birthing process. In particular, I found her calm strength very helpful in what was a very painful labor (the worst of my three labors) her massage technique and suggestions for positions were perfect for me. My partner appreciated her calm and friendly manner and her knowledge of hospitals and medical systems in general is very helpful. She is a mom herself which creates that necessary sisterhood. Good luck! Megan

Virginia was my doula and I highly recommend her. She was everything we needed her to be, a calm and reassuring presence for me and a help to my husband. During labor she gave us a lot of space for my husband and I to work together but she definately stepped in when I needed a different kind of support and my husband needed a break. Virginia is fun, easygoing a caring. You'll be glad you worked with her. Kelly

Welcome to motherhood! I don't know Virginia but I know someone else who fits your dream doula description -- Carolynn Melchert. She and I lived on the same block and raised our kids together and she's one of the loveliest women on earth. Calm, radiant, skillfull and a great support for anyone entering parenthood. I can most easily get my hands on her husband Seth's email address, dmelchert [at] He'll pass your message on. ann

Virginia attended our birth in March 2005. It was also our first baby and I had a natural child birth at Alta Bates. She was simply marvelous!

Virginia was everything I needed. She was supportive, centered, focused, positive, quiet, strong, patient, full of tips, I can go on and on. I knew she was there if I needed her. Just as important, my husband knew she was there for him too! And she gave us plenty of private time. She was so focused on me and kept me calm.

Without her, my husband would have never been able to eat lunch when we were laboring at home nor pick me flowers from the garden. He swears that he will never have another baby without her help!

I would not have been able to have a natural birth without her and the midwife, Jeri Zukoski.

I hope you choose to hire her! She's the super doula!

Good luck to you and feel free to contact me. susan

Dear soon-to-be-first time Mom; In reply to Virginia Duplessis as a Doula, she fits your descrition to the ''T''. She was all that and more at the birth of our first baby last January. She is committed, caring and thorough in her pre, during and post Doula services. She really helped my husband feel part of the birth as well. She videotaped per our request and had balloons waiting on our doorstep when we got home. (Albeit my birth was only 5 hours). Grab her before she is booked! Connie

Jan 2006

I would just like to wholeheartedly recommend my doula Nicki Bonfilio. Her calm manner helped guide us through 22 extremely long hours of labor. Even though we took birthing classes, I don't think I could have made it without Nicki's guidance, reassurance, and general wonderfulness. She respected our birth plan, made gentle and informed suggestions, and helped us navigate the uncertainty of birth with professionalism and ease. We will definitely ask her to be with us at the birth of our second child! Her phone number is 415.558.8471 beretran

Oct 2005

I'm expecting a baby early 2006. This time around, I'm considering hiring a doula. I would love to know if there are any doulas who are also massage therapists, or who use massage during labor. Thanks for any recommendations! expecting

I highly recommend our doula who is also a fantastic massage therapist! Her name is Elizabeth Lipsius (415) 317-0611. Anne

We used Jaqui McClure as our doula and she brought in such warmth and sensitive quiet energy that really helped the birth process feel as natural as it's actually supposed to be. The massage was wonderful and well timed. Contact her at bradders6[AT] David

Candace Palmerlee, our doula for the birth of our daughter in November 04, is also a massage therapist, and includes a prenatal massage in her services. She lives and works in Oakland, and her website is She was a terrific doula - matter of fact, funny, conscientious, and warm - and gave me a great massage. Good luck! Massaged

Try Jeffie Miller who is a wonderful massage therapist, is almost done with nursing school and has started a doula practice. She's truly wonderful. You can reach her at 510-207- 2880. SB

I wanted to recommend a wonderful doula. Her name is Emily Ross. She does prenatal, postnatal and overnight care. She is a certified doula who is knowledgable, calm, supportive, well- trained, and competent. She is also a massage therapist, which really helps! She has a lot of experience in hospitals in the Bay Area and she's a good advocate if you're thinking of a hospital birth. She is definately worth having a conversation with to see if it's a good fit for you. Her rates are reasonable and her initial consultation is free. One of the things the people who hire her often have her do is stay overnight as a night nurse, which allows them to get the sleep they so desperately need. You can reach her directly at 510-224-7255. Cindi

Oct 2005

We are giving birth to our first child in February at Cal Pacific Med Center (in SF). We are looking for a doula who can work with us at CPMC through delivery (preferably natural) and possibly post-partum. Many thanks for any suggestions. Lexie

I highly recommend our doula who helped us with both of our kids, she is great! Thoughtful, knowledgeable 25 years, calming presence and oh so helpful! Her name is Esther Gallagher, phone 821-4490 or , and she taught our birthing class before our first child. She was great helping out with the baby, taking care or me, cooking fabulous food and smoothing out the stress of the visiting in-laws, the last thing I had no idea would even be an issue. It was so nice to have a someone a around with family far away, we even had her with our second child because it was such an awesome experience. Alycia

I'd like to highly recommend my doula Michelle Welborn. I delivered my first baby at Alta Bates in Berkeley a couple of months ago. Michelle lives and primarily works in San Francisco. She was a great match for us. I birthed my big baby without any medication. It was a great experience overall.

Michelle took a lot of time to talk to us before our birth. We had 2 long prenatal meetings in addition to the initial interview. She was with me for my whole labor (which ended up being about 8 hours) and came for apostnatal visit. She and her backup doula, Kara, also host group prenatal and postpartum meetings once a month where you can meet her other clients, most of whom live in SF.

She is very knowledgeable and also kind and empathetic. I really like her.

She has a website: New Mom

Hello everyone, We are looking for a doula (to help with delivery) and a ''postpartum doula'' or ''baby nurse'' for the first 2 weeks. I hear so many different terms! :) I have read all of the postings for recommendations, but am looking for more recent referrals for San Francisco. I would like someone who is of course incredibly competent and knowledgeable, but who is also very compassionate and nurturing. Any recommendations for doulas/baby nurses who work in San Francisco would be so greatly appreciated. Thank you so much- Cindy

I have a doula friend in SF. Darya Mead at 415/469-9546. Lise

I have posted this before: Joan Taylor was our doula for birth and post-partum. She was fantastic -- Joan has many years experience as a doula (she also has a yoga background, and has a grown son). To put it simply, she absolutely saved me in my labor. I went into labor at 33 weeks, and my husband and I had only met with Joan in our interview with her (and had taken no birthing classes yet). Because the Drs were attempting to stop my labor, I was directed to be on ''bed rest'' (e.g. I was not allowed to get up, or move, at all). Joan arrived at the hospital and helped me to go from 0 to 7 centimeters in about 4 hours, only being able to use my breath and my voice (as the Dr's were dealing with other emergencies, and no one was available to come by and check me -- Joan pushed to get the Dr's to come, and when they finally did my baby's foot was in the birth canal and I had an emergency C-section). I could not have survived that labor without her -- she was able to help me to use what I had available, to work with my body -- it was AMAZING. Additionally, she did postpartum work with us when my premature baby finally came home from the hospital a month later (and he came home small, and on a heart monitor). Our family was under an incredible amount of stress, and she helped support me through my own healing, helped me with breast feeding, helped us eat/organize/sleep, and helped us to find ways to maximize the contact and love we were able to give to our son. She also really loved our son and encouraged us to see how strong he was and how great he was developing (at 9 mos he is doing super now). She really was essential to our survival. She's a wonderful person to spend time with, is extremely compassionate, and also has excellent advice and counsel for a birthing mom, or a new mom. She actually lives in Oakland, but she has worked in San Francisco. I would call her! (510) 482 8927 or (510) 390 1737 vhowell

Look no further than Esther Gallagher. She rocks. She does both delivery and postpartum, and in fact prefers to do both for the continuity of care. She's completely about taking care of the mommy (and to some extent the daddy) so mommy can figure out about taking care of the baby. She saved me from having a C- section; she got my breast-feeding started smoothly; she whipped unhelpful visiting family members into shape (if you don't like them forthright, you won't like Esther); she helped me and my husband through the stress of sleepless new parenting. Her number is 415-821-4490. heidi

Sept 2005

I'm an older first-time mom expecting the first week of December, and I'm looking for more recent recommendations for doulas (the ones currently listed on the website are from 2004). Also, I have a logistical question: do I introduce my ob-gyn to my doula, or use a doula recommended by my ob-gyn? I'm not sure how this works. Thanks for your help! StinsonsMom

Dear StinsonsMom, I'd like to recommend a couple of very excellent doulas: Makini Duewa (510-625-1395) and Betsy Appell (415-254-0706). Both live in the East Bay. They are both wonderful.

It's fantastic that your OB would recommend a doula to you. I would definitely meet her (if you like your OB); but you shouldn't feel obligated to do so or to work with her, if after meeting her you find you don't connect. The most important part in choosing a doula is the connection between you -- it's every bit as (or even more) important as how much experience she has. Good luck! Jenny

I highly recommend Betsey Appell ( She is amazing -- incredibly skilled, very experienced and totally dedicated. She knows all the tricks for helping moms have the birth they want. She got me through what turned out to be a very challenging (though blessedly brief), medication-free birth. HOWEVER, though she specializes in supporting women who want a natural childbirth, she is not ''militant'' about it at all. She will support you in having whatever kind of birth you want.

Betsey is not only a very thoroughly trained and experienced doula, she is also a yoga, mediation and hypnobirthing instructor. She is currently studying every single labor method there is, combining the best elements into her own method of labor coaching. She is brilliant and made all the difference for me and my husband.

Finally, I gave birth at Alta Bates, and one of the reasons I chose Betsey is that she is well known and liked by most of the staff there. Because of this, the best Alta Bates nurses, if they know she is there attending you, will request to be assigned to you (she'll explain how that works).

Oh, one more thing -- good doulas get booked up well ahead of time, so contact her NOW, if you are interested to interview her. If you do decide to hire her, let her know I referred you! :) Best of luck, Alesia

We used Treesa Mclean as our doula when our daughter was born at Alta Bates. She is amazing. One of the things we really like about her is that she isn't super hippy, flowery. Rather, she gives off an air of competence and calmness. She really is there to support YOU, and however you want your birth experience to be. Her calm demeanor turned out to be a real blessing when it came time to give birth. We had a long labor, and then a very fast transition and pushing stage. We almost thought we wouldn't make it to the hospital on time!! Treesa was calm the entire time and helped direct and navigate everything. We would have been panicking otherwise. Even the nurses and others at Alta Bates were listening to her and following her suggestions when we rushed in and had to be gurneyed straight into delivery. I found her to be so reassuring and so helpful. My husband felt totally comfortable with her and also really depended on her. Our doctor didn't even make it to the hospital until about one minute before I delivered, so Treesa really was it for us and I felt like I was in the best hands I could be in. In the weeks after delivery, she came to our house several times to check on us and to help with some breastfeeding problems. Definitely can't go wrong with her. Rebecca

I just gave birth to my son at Alta Bates (on September 6) with the help of a wonderful doula who is also highly recommended in the BPN archives: Treesa Mclean. She was everything I hoped for in a doula, and helped me have everything I hoped for in my birthing experience! Treesa has had a lot of experience in general, and experience with Alta Bates in particular, and in fact knew a lot of the hospital personnel and procedures, which was helpful. She was straightforward, supportive, and knowledgeable, with lots of ideas for making labor (and the weeks leading up to labor, during which I got pretty anxious) easier to manage.

I have to add, though, that since I was so psychologically comfortable laboring at home, we didn't end up spending very much time at the hospital. By the time we left home, I was ready to push, and my son was born about an hour after we arrived at the hospital.

As far as your procedural questions, if you really like your OB and trust her style, why not ask her for recommendations for doulas too? And although you might ask your OB and doula if they'd like to meet, my understanding is that it isn't usually done. They will interact very little anyway, just at the very end of your labor when your OB pops in for the actual delivery. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions! Nicole

My husband and I had our first son five weeks ago and we chose Betsy Appell to be our doula. We LOVED working with her. Betsy is a very experienced and caring person who has a great balance between her professional skills and human qualities. Besides from being my doula, she was my pre-natal yoga and HypnoBirthing instructor which made our relationship grow very close by the time the birth came along (I strongly recommend taking her classes). During labor her support was crucial to the progress towards delivery, she was very attentive to my needs at all times, made me feel confident and kept me calm so that I could be present and collaborate with my body. She was a huge help to my husband who felt relaxed knowing that having Betsy there would take off the responsibilities of advocacy when dealing with doctors or medical assistants. My husband was able to give me the strength and comfort I needed because Betsy was there. She was always available to discuss my concerns before and after the birth. I hope Betsy is around for my second baby and hope you also have a chance to enjoy her services as a doula. You can check her website at: If you need further information feel free to contact me. Good luck. Lola Lola

Inexpensive Doula?

Aug 2005

I am due in early October & I just started looking for a doula. I know finding a good one is important, but I haven't found anyone I can afford. Can anyone recommend an inexpensive doula in or around Berkeley? Qualities I'd like in a doula: calming presence, able to suggest positions/help with pain, supportive of my husband and not just me, able to explain hospital procedures clearly, not too granola-y, etc... Margaret

We used a wonderful doula named Jacqui McClure. We interviewed a few for the birth of our son a year ago and she was the one we felt the most connection with. My husband was not keen on the idea of a doula at first, but Jacqui is very calming and helped us both feel more confident about our birth experience. My labor was rather long and difficult and I can't imagine going through it without her - she was wonderful. Jacqui is also a massage therapist for both infants an adults and she has varying packages she offers that are very affordable. She also taught an infant massage class and provided a day of massages for my mother's group. She has a massage studio ( and lives in Alameda, where she emphasizes supporting women, mothers and mothers-to-be. Jacqui can be reached at douladoula at or 510-435-3530. Airdri

I have a good friend who is training to be a mid-wife and who has performed doula services in the past. I believe her price is reasonable. If you like, email me and I'll give her information to you directly. alison

I would like to highly recommend Jenny Kepler as a wonderful (and affordable!) doula. She attended the birth of our son in early March. She met with my husband and I several times beforehand, discussed our desires, fears, and she helped us prepare our birth plan for the hospital. Jenny is very knowledgeable, kind, and enthusiastic. She has a beautiful, sweet spirit and it came through during the rough times of my delivery. She was helpful to me, was open-minded with trying new positions for labor, did some massage and acupressure. She was also a huge relief to my husband, who at times really needed a break (I had a long labor!). Jenny was a great person to look to as an advocate in the hospital, she worked well with my midwife and the hospital nurses too. She also offers belly casting, which is always a plus! Jenny can be reached at jenny-kepler at or 510-472-8280. Happy birthing, Jennifer, James and little Memphis

experience with doula Joan Taylor

April 2005

I'm considering using Joan Taylor as my doula. Has anyone used her as a doula in the past and what was your experience like? E

I used Joan as a post-partum doulla for around three months. She was great! I was quite sick and the baby really fussy. She handled both of us plus a variety of realatives and my other daughter. She had lots of the natural remedies (which worked quite well) and appropriately knew when to get some medical intervention. She was usually calm, quite effusive and touchy feely but also respects your boundaries. All in all she is a strong but gentle soul with good experience and ideas. If you want more info please contact my email. rossbeth

Feb 2005

I am considering hiring Linda Jean as our doula for the birth of our first child. Does anyone have any expereinces with her and her services? Thank you so much! first time mom

We used Linda Jean for our 2nd, which was a VBAC and she was great. I felt like she provided the support we needed and wasn't too invasive. I ended up with an epidural after 46 hours, but she did try to stall me, as I had really wanted a drug free birth. She certainly wasn't encouraging drugs but wasn't totally anti them. I would use her again. sally

I had the good fortune to have Linda Jean Cranmer as a doula for the birth of my two children, who are now 7 and 9. There are no words adequate to describe the exceptional talent, creativity, warmth, kindness, skill and magical powers of Linda Jean. My birth experiences were the best hours of my life and I attribute much of this to her confidence, skill and ability to work in a holistic way within the confines of a traditional system. I am a single mother and she provided with with the most amazing welcome into motherhood that one could imagine. She also was the doula for my sister in her two births and helped make the experience (both challenging births)wonderful for both her and her husband. I don't think you will find anyone more talented than Linda Jean Cranmer. Good luck in your birth, Sally sslome

Linda Jean was my labor coach for our first child, who is now 11. She has been labor coach for several close friends and acquaintances since. She is very professional, warm, experienced, supportive, and intuitive. Plus, she took great pictures of the birth. I would have had her as my labor coach for my second child, now 3, but she didn't feel I needed a labor coach the second time. She nevertheless gave me a lot of support before and after that birth. I recommend her most highly. Fran

2003 - 2004 Recommendations

Oct 2004

My partner and I are expecting our first child in early January and are looking for a doula. I will be giving birth at Alta Bates in Berkeley and am planning a natural birth, but am open and aware that things might change. We want a doula that is sensative to same sex couples, practical, aware and supportive of both mine and my partners needs. We are on a tight budget. We already have one name on our list, Candace Palmerlee, but are looking for others to interview. Thanks.

Please talk with Samantha Armer. She is wonderful and would be perfect for you. Her number is (510) 655-9200. Linda

My partner and I (the birth mom) hired Beth Hammond as our doula for our daughter's birth in July 2003. Here's what I wrote about her in a recommendation in response to another question: ''We hired Beth Hammond as our doula for the birth of our daughter in July 2003. We loved Beth! I had several concerns about finding the right fit for us in a doula because we are a lesbian couple, pro-Western medicine and not particularly open to alternative childbirthing methods. I wanted someone familiar with childbirth to support my partner and me, to control the hospital environment and to keep us informed. I wanted to feel protected. I didn't want anyone too ''touchy-feely'' (although I did want some hands-on help during labor), and I wanted someone who would support my choice to get an epidural, if it came to that. I wanted someone warm, but efficient and no-nonsense. Beth was perfect. She met with us a couple of times before the delivery and once afterward. She responded to my telephone calls beforehand, when I had worries. She made sure to involve my partner fully. I was fortunate to have a very short and relatively easy delivery, but there were a few scary moments and my partner and I were grateful for her steadfast presence. It was especially nice to have her there after our daughter was born. And she did not stand in the way of my epidural! She just made sure I understood the decision I was making. I think she is flexible and knowledgeable and would be a good fit for someone with a more alternative outlook, too. I got the feeling that she would be equally [if not more] helpful to a person who wanted a strictly ''natural'' childbirth experience. I was very clear with her about what I wanted, and she was responsive and wonderful. We highly recommend Beth!'' Beth's fee was (at the time) $700. In my search, that was pretty standard. Feel free to email me if you want more information . . . Noel

Check out Dancing Doula and Massage Services, Toni Knutson of Oakland, 510-502-5799, at website

She is a lesbian and preferentially serves the LGBT community in the Bay Area. I volunteer with her through a nonprofit and think she's great! I don't know how her fees compare with others, however.

Also try Maia Conception and Midwifery Services They may have other doula references.

I'm a labor and delivery nurse at ABMC, a lesbian, and do labor support. You could ask for me, evening shift, and if I'm working I'd love to be your nurse. I don't want to give out my name on this list, but if you like, post an email address and I'll write you.

Sept 2004

Haven't seen any recent recommendations on a good Doula in the Berkeley area. We are due in Jan. '05 and are hoping for a drug- free birth at Alta Bates. Does anyone have a good recommendation for someone to mainly help us through labor with trying differnet positions, using various techniques to prevent tearing, etc? Nina

I can personally recommend an excellent doula and close personal friend, who has acted as a doula/birth coach for several people in our circle of friends. Linda Grimes can be reached at (510) 658-5317. She is truly wonderful - will help make your birth plan with you. She provided us with a lot of information we didn't even know existed. I'm sure she can provide you with many references in addition to us. The best on your upcoming birth

just wanted to chime in as one more voice praising Treesa McLean, who made my birth experience last year just fantastic. she lives in Hayward but works throughout the East Bay. i wanted a natural childbirth, if possible, and wanted to labor at home as long as possible so i needed someone to help me manage the pain & stay calm, & Treesa was perfect. she's extremely experienced, very calm, has a wry sense of humor, & just made the whole thing seem entirely manageable. knowing that she would tell me if anything unusual came up, i was able to let go & just focus on my contractions. i'm an older mom, so it was really important to me to have someone who had seen it all & would tell me if it was no longer safe to be at home. as it turned out, with her assistance i stayed at home until the very end, then just popped over to the hospital to deliver! after the birth, she helped with nursing issues, sleeping issues, & general words of wisdom. so glad i found her; she's fabulous. hilary

I had a non-medicated birth at Alta Bates with Patty Lipinska in March 2003. Patty lives in Berkeley. She was very helpful in suggesting various positions to facilitate birth and prevent tearing. Good luck! Tonya

I would highly recommend Lisa Moon (lisamoon AT, cell 435-7643) for your doula services. She was my doula and gave me great support before and after labor. (Unfortunately during labor she was out of town--when I asked her to be my doula she told me well in advance that she would be gone the week of my due date and got back-ups for me). I know she would have been incredible during the birth too. She is highly in favor of home births, but is very supportive of hospital births as well. And she definitely supports medication free births, and the resources to help a woman accomplish that, although she is very open to whatever a particular woman needs for her particular birth.

If you want to meet her and get to know her style, she teaches a free class every Friday morning (9-11:30) at Elephant Pharmacy (which I would also highly recommend--it combines prenatal yoga on a birthing ball taught by a woman named Liv with Lisa's Art of Birthing class). Good luck and healthy birthing! Amy

I highly recommend Judy Ballinger. She is a doula and a post- partum doula, and she also practices acupressure (she's also a registered nurse). She was our doula at Alta Bates in June 2004 for the birth of our first child. I had an emergency pitocin induction due to fetal distress, and she helped me achieve a vaginal delivery...and one using NO drugs. Apparently this was a difficult feat considering what we were up against. I think the medical staff expected my labor would end in a C-section, but with Judy's expertise, it was unnecessary.

Judy works for what YOU want, whether it's drug-free or not. She wants your birth experience to be positive. I basically left it to her to follow our birth plan - one she helped us write - (i.e., she reminded the doctors of our wants and needs, even though due to medical complications, some couldn't be fulfilled) so my husband and I could focus on the labor and delivery (we didn't remember ANYTHING from childbirth classes). Judy is very experienced and she is known at Alta Bates. I would definitely hire her again. She can be reached at 510-236-1543. Or you can email me if you have further questions. bradycj

we had judy ballinger for our first child and have reserved her for number 2 as well - she's great her contact info - aksharadoula AT 510-846-1193 ilona

I would like to recommend Ann Haynes as a wonderful Doula (both birth and postpartum). She attended the birth of my daughter 3 months ago and helped make it a wonderful experience!! Ann is a very warm, loving person and has a very calm demeanor that is very comforting while in labor. My husband and I met with Ann several times before the birth so she really got to know us. During these meetings, we discussed my expectations for the type of birth I would like. We also discussed different birthing positions and what, in particular, I felt comfortable with. Ann stayed with me throughout the entire labor. My labor was about 14 hours long (5 of which was pushing)and she stayed with me, gave me massages, and encouraged me the whole way through. I cannot say enough good things about her. We have also had the luxury of seeing her in action taking care of the baby. She is even more warm and loving with children. She has a special type of interaction with children and I trust her full heartedly with my kids. If you would like to contact Ann Haynes directly her contact information is: anndoula [at] and 510-847-9743. Feel free to also email me if you would like more information. Anita

I had Ann Haynes as my Childbirth Doula and she also helped us out with post-partum baby care. She is fantastic. I selected her card from the corkboard in Waddle and Swaddle, completely randomly. I couldn't be happier. She is a very gentle soul and listened carefully to every concern. She is primarily responsible for me chosing to have a natural birth (what an experience). I couldn't recommend her more highly. She can be reached at: anndoula AT and 510-847-9743 Erin

July 2004

Has anyone had any experience with Chris Gonzalez? Chris is a doula who lives in Hayward. I am also looking for info on Felicia Roche, a doula in Alameda. Thanks!

I used Chris Gonzalez as my doula this past May for the birth of my first child. Chris was amazing. I had a relatively fast labor and delivery, and there is no way that I could have done it without her. I had interviewed several other doulas, but none of them felt quite right until I met Chris. The moment she walked in my door I experienced her warmth and support. She was clearly interested in who I was as a person and throughout our work together she always took the time to ask how I was doing. I went into the birth without any goals beyond having a positive experience. Chris was completely supportive of this goal and didn't push having a natural birth versus using drugs or an epidural. During the two prenatal meetings we had, Chris really took the time to get to know me and my spouse so she could make sure that both of our needs were met during the delivery. She helped us come up with a birth plan that we felt good about. During the labor and delivery Chris not only supported me and helped me stay focused, but she was also able to provide guidance to my spouse so that he could be involved. Chris respected my wishes, and made sure that my birth plan and requests were honored by everyone involved in the delivery. I had complete confidence in Chris and felt secure that she was looking out for me while I was in the hospital. Feel free to email me if you would like to know more about Chris. She was wonderful and I wouldn't hesitate to use her again if I have another child. jh

Chris Gonzalez was our doula when my son was born three years ago, and she was fabulous.

I'm not a touchy-feely type nor a New Age-y type; Chris meshed perfectly with my more practical outlook. She knew just how to support both me and my husband through a long labor that ultimately ended in a surgical birth when it was discovered that the baby was breech.

We re-hired Chris for my recent second pregnancy with the intention of doing a VBAC. Unfortunately, I ended up having a scheduled section this time around -- my daughter was *also* breech and there were other complications -- so Chris didn't attend the birth, but she was still a big help in the last weeks of my pregnancy as we attempted to turn the baby and as I came to grips with the decision to schedule the surgery.

I recommend her without hesitation. Holly

I had Chris Gonzalez as my doula in 2002. she was GREAT! I can't find your original posting, so I don't know what specific questions you had... but if you e-mail me I'd be happy to tell you about my experience. Virginia

July 2004

I highly recommend Felicia Roche. She was with me for the birth of both of my children. She is truly amazing!! If you would like to know more feel free to contact me directly! Jasmin

May 2004

Hi, I'm expecting my second child in July. In New York City there is a ''volunteer doula service'' where doulas in training assist at births for free or at reduced rates according to their level of experience. It is organized by a doula trainer. Is there anything similar here, and/or do you have any recommendations of individuals to contact? Thanks a lot in advance. Jodi

Hi there, I coordinate the Alta Bates/ Berkeley Primary Care Access Clinic Volunteer Doula program. While the program is (currently) focused on supporting BPAC clients, we have many doulas in training (doulas who've received training but need 1-3 births to get certified) who would love to support a laboring mom. Please email me if you are interested. Thanks, Maria

April 2004

If you are looking for a doula and/or interested in hypnobirthing, I would highly recommend Betsy Appell, My husband and I took a ''HypnoBirthing, make your partner your doula'' workshop from her recently. We found her to be extremely knowledgeable, thorough and professional as well as kind, gentle and caring. She also provided a bunch of information for us to take with us. I have heard many good things about Betsy from other people and I believe she is tops in her field. Please feel free to email me with any questions. jeewon

I want to recommend a great prenatal class my husband and I recently took. It's taught by a Berkeley-based doula named Betsy Appell and is a hypnobirthing class that teaches deep relaxation techniques as well as how to make your partner your doula. I think the class would be great for just about everyone (any type of birth plan), but it would be especially great for someone who is interested in having a doula but can't afford one. Betsy shares all her doula tricks and provides lots of take-home material. Her website is and her email is betsy AT Beatrice

October 2003

I'm considering using Felicia Roche as my doula. Has anyone used her as a doula in the past and what was your experience like? km

If you can get her you are so lucky! She helped me with TWO births. She completely tunes in to what you want and need and is there every second helping you. She is calming, experienced, etc. She also works well with a variety of personalities (doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists). She has this Mary Poppins bag of tricks that she uses for all the different needs. It has everything from cooling Evian water spray for my face (I was HOT) to a hand fan, lavender, cool compresses, music, etc. She massaged my feet & hands, expressed my needs to the hospital staff, stopped my shivers, cooled me down, etc. I have never had someone so attentive in my life. She really helped make my experience a wonderful and amazing journey. I can't say more about Felecia. elizabeth

I had Felicia as my doula for my daughter's birth. She was incredible! She was totally tuned in to me the whole time. Calm and composed throughout and firm when I needed her to be. She's knowledgeable about birthing and people. Worked with me and guided me but never pushed or manipulated. Always made me feel taken care of and listened to.

In my case, my contractions came every two minutes from the start and kept at it for over 9 hours. I was also having back labor which I didn't know at the time. By the time my husband called her to come to the hospital I was panicked. I didn't know what was going on and the contractions seemed to be coming too fast and hard too early. From the minute she arrived her knowledgable and calming manner set me at ease and helped me feel back in control. She also helped my husband and sister who assisted in the birth feel and work like as a great team.

I can't say enough about Felicia. If I ever have another child I would want her at my side! Elizabeth

I used Felicia for the birth of my son last year. I never would have gotten thru my labor without her, and truly believe I would have had a c-section if it weren't for her coaching, advice and support. She was absolutely FABULOUS!!!! Felicia had lots of invaluable tips to help me get thru every stage of labor and every contraction. I had an extremely long labor and she even came over to our house and spent the first 5+ hours laboring with me at home before we headed to the hospital. Both my mom and husband were also present during my labor and she worked great with both of them too. We are expecting our second child and I have already contacted her. I can't say enough good things about her and would be glad to talk to you more if you have any questions or concerns. Jasmin

September 2003

Hi there, I have looked at recommendations on this site for a doula and found that they are kind of old. Can anyone please recommend a doula in the Berkeley/Oakland area who has experience with Alta Bates births? Budget is a consideration for us, but we really want to find the right person. Thanks for anything - there are so many doulas in the area that a stellar recommendation would really be a huge help. Jenny

We had a baby in April and used Treesa McLean as our doula. She has been reviewed positively on the parents network before.We LOVED her!! During the labor and birth she was an amazing support- very calming and confident with tons of tricks up her sleeve. She was very responsive to my needs, and was directive when appropriate. She enabled my husband to be a support and to also really enjoy the experience rather than worrying about remembering all of the techniques we learned. She was very accessible before and after the birth, answering questions, giving advice and referrals. She also helped immensely with breastfeeding. I can't say enough good things about her. Feel free to email me with further questions about her. martha

I highly recommend Janake Costello (510) 525-1155. She is the best. Chiara

Makini Duewa, the doula that attended my son's birth, was incredible. The moment i saw her i knew she was the right doula for our family! She is a massage therapist, hypnobirthing instructor (though we did not study hypnobirthing) , and a gentle gentle woman.

She went on the Alta Bates tour with me and helped me prepare emotionally for the birth. My husband also clicked with her. She was here at my home for almost seven hours helping me labor, equipped with aromatherapy and a fan to help me during intense hot/ cold flashes. Her hands seemed to always be the right temperature.

She accompanied us to Alta Bates where she was our advocate. She was tough skinned but sensitive to my needs. We had the birth we dreamed of, and when our son was born and i found myself ravenously hungry, Makini had remembered some seaweed rice cakes!

There is no end to the praise my husband and i have for Makini. She visited my home after the birth and one year later, we still call each other. When our next birth is nigh, we will seek out Makini again. She was such a support to us. Though I barely knew her at the time, she helped me through my greatest trial & accomplishment and i consider her a dear friend.

Good luck finding the perfect doula- you won't regret it. You can call Makini at (510) 625 1395 . If you want to hear more about my experience with her you can email me. karl

Treesa McLean is a wonderfully gifted and knowledgable doula who lives in Hayward but travels up. We had our baby at Alta Bates and she was always available when we needed her, so her comute was not an issue. I was so happy with all she had to offer, all through the prep, the labor and she was even an amazing breast feeding consultant. I don't still have her number, but you can call information for her in Hayward. Good luck Irene

We had Carol Shattuck-Rice at both our births, and she is wonderful. She has a gentle manner, but beneath that is a very experienced, determined person who is strong without being at all abrasive. Plus she knows Alta Bates maternity very well. Her number is 510-527-7210. Good luck! Dana

Without hesitation, I recommend you contact Beth Hammond. She assisted the delivery of my first two children at Alta Bates and I will use her for my third child due in November. I am very happy to describe my experience for you and give you my reasons for recommending Beth. Email me directly and we can exchange phone numbers. Jody

My husband & I LOVED our doula, Chris Gonzales. She was knowledgeable, respectful, funny, generous, gentle & kind. She has attended over 75 births. She is also a Bradley instructor & doula trainer & has birthed 6 kids of her own. She did a great job balancing my needs, my husbands needs, working with our midwife & Alta Bates staff. She lives in Hayward, but does many births at AB & we live in El Cerrito & it was no problem. Her contacnt info is: 510 881-5410 r6ids at

Ladi Dell'aira was our doula for the birth of our son at Alta Bates last year. She was wonderful in so many ways - the doctor even thanked her - and I highly recommend her as a doula and her prenatal massage services too! Marshall's mom

We used Carol Shattuck-Rice in October 2000 and loved her. She's very down to earth and helpful without pushing her own personal philosophies on childbirth. We had 2 visits with her before the birth, reviewing labor techniques and our needs for the birth. When the 'big day' arrived, she was so tremendously helpful and made our experience that much more special. Our daughter was sent to the neonatal ICU right after birth and Carol stayed with us until we were settled and knew how our daughter was doing (everything was fine and we have a happy, healthy girl). She also made a home visit about a week after the birth and showed us baby massage. I couldn't recommend her more highly. At that time she charged $ 600.00 for everything (I think there were additional charges if the labor was more than 24 hours). Also, when we saw Carol, she was only taking a very limited number of clients so she might already be booked. Her number is 510-527-7210. Best of luck to you. - Rachael

Treesa McLean was our doula for the birth of both my girls. Her number is 510-581-1013. Both my husband and I had such a good experience with her the first time (a tough birth too) that we hired her again the second time around. She's very knowledgeable, supportive of YOUR needs, and doesn't have any agenda except to help you have as easy and good experience as possible. She also has great resources--knows so much about nursing and other baby-related things. Anyway, we love her and have recommended her to others who also had a great experience. good luck! Leslie

My doula, Treesa McLean, was fabulous during the birth of my 2nd child. She was my birthing class teacher from Birthways. I don't know if I could have sustained the courage to go through my birth without her presence/coaching. Her fees are based upon a sliding scale - you pay what you can afford. She's very open and easy going about what you want/desire/imagine about your birth. What I really liked about her:
* Experienced and well liked(doctors and nurses alike) at Alta Bates Medical Center.
* A good easy going personality with a GREAT sense of humor (which I think any mother needs while giving birth!).
* Lots of helpful information and techniques to ease the pain of contractions.
* Very mindful of what you want (e.g. drugs, no drugs etc.)
* Really helps you stay focused through contractions
* Advocates for you while in triage and in the delivery room.
* Very knowledgable about hospital practices and procedures.
* Always positive and upbeat.

You are welcome to call me if you need further info on Treesa. I highly recommend her! Maya

Aimee Tom was my doula last month for the birth of my second child, and she is truly stellar. We have continued to have her work for us as a post-partum doula and I am even more impressed with her. She's very knowledgable, (about birth, parenting, babies,etc) experienced and competent and I immediately felt comfortable with her. I delivered at Alta Bates and she obviously is very comfortable working there. I'd be glad to give you more info. Aimee can be reached at 827-8551. Deborah

I didn't respond the first time i saw this post because I thought there would be tons of duplicate posts. We had Linda Jones-Mixon from Waddle and Swaddle as our Doula. She was awesome and I can't recommend her enough. She is however not cheap but worth every penny. She has tons of experience and a calm laid back manner that is so very comforting. She has a great sense of humor and we found her very comfortable to be around. We wanted to stay home as long as possible and she was able to let us know when it was really time to go to the hospital. She came to our house when we needed her and was a great support after our baby was born. I can't recommend her more highly. Good luck- We also interviewed 3 or 4 Doulas before settling on Linda. Shop around and find someone that you and your partner are both comfortable and at ease with. marion

Samantha Armer is a doula in the east bay, and I certainly wish that I had met her *before* I gave birth, as I'd love to ''redo'' my birth with her in attendance! She is a wonderful, caring, spunky, imaginative, healing person. She does pre- and post-partum work as well as birth support. I recommend her most highly. (She is also a terrific and flexible cook.) samthedoula at is her email address. Good luck with your search. Jennie

We had a baby 5 days ago, and we had an incredible doula by our side. Her name is Mariflorence Hudson, and she's an experienced doula and a Midwife in training. We knew we wanted to get a doula from the start, but it took us awhile to find the right fit. I wanted to be present and involved in the birth (I'm the father), we wanted to have the experience of someone who had given birth and who wasn't a medical professional (mainly so that we could navigate the choices and issues we might face with layman's terms), and I wanted someone who could coach me on what I could do to comfort and support my wife as she went through labor.

We interviewed several doulas in the months before our due date, and we met an interesting array, from those who focused exclusively on the mom (even though we had stated that we wanted someone who would be active in helping me get and stay involved), to those who were overbearingly ''new-agey,'' and those who had no sense of humor (levity being important to us). We began to despair that we'd find a fit with someone, or find someone who wasn't pushing a given agenda.

We met Mariflo, and cancelled our other interviews immediately after. Her practical, warm professionalism and extensive knowledge set us at ease, and she immediately addressed our concerns and questions with great answers. She has a very open approach that's all about getting to know what's most important to her clients so that she can provide the best information and support to suit their needs and goals.

Looking back, the most important thing she did for us was to nurture our confidence, and help us understand our options so that we could make choices that we could feel happy about. As first-time parents we entered the realm of labor and delivery with no small amount of trepidation, but Mariflo helped reinforce - and supplemented - what we were learning about the process and ourselves and then guided us as we applied that knowledge and confidence through the actual labor and delivery.

Our goal was to have as natural a birth as possible, with minimal interventions and no pain medication. Mariflo helped us work through the details of what our ideal birth would be like, and how we would handle issues if and when they arose. Despite the stress of being overdue and having the threat of being induced only days away we had a smooth, uncomplicated delivery, and we credit Mariflo for no small part of that.

We were also able to stay at home for a large part of our labor, and we felt comfortable with Mariflo's experience and support in letting us know when we should change positions, take a walk, and eventually head to the hospital. That part was very comforting, experiencing early and early active labor where we feel the most comfortable (home). We delivered our baby at Summit, in Oakland.

Mariflo Hudson is based in Berkeley. Her phone number is 510 717 0714, and her email is mariflo_martin at

A couple of other hints we could pass along:
- talk with your OB, and gauge his or her comfort with doulas.
- interview many doulas, you'll know when you find the right fit.

If you want to ask any questions, please feel free to send an email or give us a call (we may not answer, but we'll call you back, new baby and all). t. jay , jennifer and olivia

I had a terrific doula, Mariflo Hudson. I was really unsure as to whether I wanted or needed a doula, but I am so glad she was there. She was able to explain things, answer questions, offer so many helpful/comforting suggestions and take some of the pressure off my husband. He really didn't think we needed another person in the room during the birth, but I think in the end we were both so thankful for Mariflo's support. She was warm, easy to talk with and I believe really made a differance. I would be happy to talk with you in person and answer any specific questions. Mariflo can be reached at 510-644-9258 or mariflo_martin at brett

July 2003

We are in search of a doula, preferrably in the East Bay. We plan to deliver at Alta Bates. Any recommendations for one in particular? I have been to the archives but would appreciate any recent comments. Thanks for your help.

We had a baby in April and used Treesa McLean as our doula. She has been reviewed positively on the parents network before.We LOVED her!! During the labor and birth she was an amazing support- very calming and confident with tons of tricks up her sleeve. She was very responsive to my needs, and was directive when appropriate. She enabled my husband to be a support and to also really enjoy the experience rather than worrying about remembering all of the techniques we learned. She was very accessible before and after the birth, answering questions, giving advice and referrals. She also helped immensely with breastfeeding. I can't say enough good things about her. Feel free to email me with further questions about her. martha

I'd like to respond to several requests for recommendations. A wonderful Bay Area doula we used is Lior Mayer, listed in the 925 area code, in Alamo

Sept 2003

I am giving birth in mid-May at Summit Medical Center, and I am interested in hiring a doula for the birth. I have seen previous recommendations for doula's; however, I am interested in learning about recent experiences (in the past year) with doula's in the area. There have been rave reviews about Makini Duewa, Treesa Mclean, and Christine Gonzalez. Has anyone worked with one or more of the following women: Mariflo Hudson, Meghan Lewis, Alice Elliot, Beth Hammond or Joan Taylor? Is there anyone else I should be considering? Jennifer

I'm sorry I can't speak about any of the women you listed specifically, although I did speak on the phone with both Makini and Joan, after I had already made my decision on a doula...both were lovely women! But, may I suggest, call Felicia Roche before you make your final decision. Here's her website: If you would like more information, email me! Good Luck! Monica

I gave birth in Nov at summit and Treesa Mclean was my duola. She is unbeleivable, probably the most experienced duola in the bay area-- I think she's done like 400 births or something. She knows her way around hospitals, doctors, babies, everything. She also has a terrific personality, and is willing to do anything to help you, from giving you a personal ''babycare'' class to cooking for you when the baby comes. can't say enough good stuff about her. feel free to e-mail me if you have questions. good luck! rebkm

I know you're looking for a few specific names and recommendations for a doula, but couldn't resist reiterating my rave review of Treesa McLean. She is fantastic and on top of the two babies she helped me deliver--I recommended her to several friends who she also helped and absolutely loved her. She is very good at supporting you and your needs and not imposing her ideas on you. All i can say is call her and speak with her --you won't be sorry! Leslie

I worked with two of the doulas listed in your message -- my first child with Meghan Lewis and my second with Treesa McLean. I had natural, unmedicated births with both of them. We enjoyed working very much with Meghan -- she was both sensitive and pragmatic -- and I tried contacting her again for my second birth but couldn't find her at the time, so we went with Treesa. Boy, were we glad we found Treesa! While there was nothing wrong with Meghan, she was less experienced than Treesa and that was the one factor that was missing with my first birth. (Meghan had only a few years under her belt at the time.) I felt that Treesa was completely on top of the situation from the moment she stepped into our house during my labor -- and took great care of both me and my husband after our child was born. She completely had our trust. I can't recommend Treesa highly enough. Rockridge mom

I have posted this before: Joan Taylor was our doula for birth and post-partum. She was fantastic -- Joan has many years experience as a doula (she also has a yoga background, and has a grown son). To put it simply, she absolutely saved me in my labor. I went into labor at 33 weeks, and my husband and I had only met with Joan in our interview with her (and had taken no birthing classes yet). Because the Drs were attempting to stop my labor, I was directed to be on ''bed rest'' (e.g. I was not allowed to get up, or move, at all). Joan arrived at the hospital and helped me to go from 0 to 7 centimeters in about 4 hours, only being able to use my breath and my voice (as the Dr's were dealing with other emergencies, and no one was available to come by and check me -- Joan pushed to get the Dr's to come, and when they finally did my baby's foot was in the birth canal and I had an emergency C-section). I could not have survived that labor without her -- she was able to help me to use what I had available, to work with my body -- it was AMAZING. Additionally, she did postpartum work with us when my premature baby finally came home from the hospital a month later (and he came home small, and on a heart monitor). Our family was under an incredible amount of stress, and she helped support me through my own healing, helped me with breast feeding, helped us eat/organize/sleep, and helped us to find ways to maximize the contact and love we were able to give to our son. She also really loved our son and encouraged us to see how strong he was and how great he was developing (at 9 mos he is doing super now). She really was essential to our survival. She's a wonderful person to spend time with, is extremely compassionate, and also has excellent advice and counsel for a birthing mom, or a new mom. I would call her! (510) 482 8927 or (510) 390 1737 vh

We hired Beth Hammond as our doula for the birth of our daughter in July 2003. We loved Beth! I had several concerns about finding the right fit for us in a doula because we are a lesbian couple, pro-Western medicine and not particularly open to alternative childbirthing methods. I wanted someone familiar with childbirth to support my partner and me, to control the hospital environment and to keep us informed. I wanted to feel protected. I didn't want anyone too ''touchy-feely'' (although I did want some hands-on help during labor), and I wanted someone who would support my choice to get an epidural, if it came to that. I wanted someone warm, but efficient and no-nonsense. Beth was perfect. She met with us a couple of times before the delivery and once afterward. She responded to my telephone calls beforehand, when I had worries. She made sure to involve my partner fully. I was fortunate to have a very short and relatively easy delivery, but there were a few scary moments and my partner and I were grateful for her steadfast presence. It was especially nice to have her there after our daughter was born. And she did not stand in the way of my epidural! She just made sure I understood the decision I was making. I think she is flexible and knowledgeable and would be a good fit for someone with a more alternative outlook, too. I got the feeling that she would be equally helpful to a person who wanted a strictly ''natural'' childbirth experience. I was very clear with her about what I wanted, and she was responsive and wonderful. We highly recommend Beth! If you want more info, feel free to email me. Noel

I have used Beth Hammond for my last three births, including most recently on 11/25/03. She is great! She is very organized, personable, sensitive to what both partners are looking for. By the third birth in 3 and 1/2 years, I even wondered if I needed a doula the last time. Thank goodness I used her because she helped me relax in a way I couldn't do on my own. I was able to have a drug free, natural delivery that I don't believe I could have done on my own. I would highly recommend you contact her. Jody

Stacia Biltekoff was our doula for the birth of our first child (Sept. 2002), and she was amazing. Stacia is an incredibly perceptive and intelligent (and funny) person, and she gave me the confidence and perspective I needed to get through what turned out to be a really, really fast delivery. I told her afterward that I was convinced she had a nearly psychic ability to anticipate what I might be worrying about and reassure me without my even having to ask. I have never felt so well-looked-after in my life. While Stacia was completely respectful of the type of experience we were hoping for, she was right on in giving us critical information and making sure we that we always understood what was going on. She is swift when action is called for and patient when you need her to be. Stacia was available to us before the birth and upon our return from the hospital, helping us with a myriad of things that you can\xc3\x82\xc2\x92t get from a birthing class. I never felt like it wasn\xc3\x82\xc2\x92t okay to call her. My husband and I both think so highly of Stacia. We can\xc3\x82\xc2\x92t imagine a more competent and caring doula, and we hope we\xc3\x82\xc2\x92ll be calling on her again one day. You can reach Stacia at: staciadoula AT Amy, Scot and Miles

Judy Ballinger was my Doula last July and she was great - she also does accupressure her e-mail : aksharadaoula AT ilona

I wholeheartedly recommend our doula, Patty Lipinska. You can reach her at 849-1082. I gave birth in March 2003 at Alta Bates, but I believe she has also worked at Summit. Patty is knowledgable, has a great sense of humor, and is very experienced (I was her 366th birth). I had a completely natural childbirth, and I don't know if I could have done it without her. She was supportive, non-intrusive, but also a good advocate when we needed it. Treesa McLean is her back-up. I also spoke with Treesa on the phone to get to know her a little bit just in case she needed to fill in for Patty. They seem to have very similar philosophies regarding birth, so I probably would have been happy with her as well. Tonya

Hi, I'm sorry I don't remember the specifics from your original posting. However, I want to recommend someone wonderful to you. Her name is Kelli Manring. Kelli has assisted with several births of at least 4 close friends of mine also. My labor was arduous and long (40 hours). Kelli was there for my husband and I through it all. Her strong, gentle voice brought me back from many impossible moments. Her physical strength carried me through intense back labor when everyone else in the room was clearly tired. She birthed with us at home, stayed overnight when we had to go back home, called family when we were too emotionally and physically exhausted to explain what was happening, etc. She respected our wishes, but also carefully surveyed the conditions of the baby and I and gently advised what decisions we might have to make. She worked respectfully with the Alta Bates nurses and doctors through at least 3 staff shifts. Like many unexperienced first time mothers, I was distraught afterwards that the birth was so ''troublesome'' to everyone. Kelli was right there for me in the days and weeks after convincing me that everything went just as it had to and that I had nothing to be ashamed about. Kelli is also a physical therapist so she was able to give me small, manageable excercises to heal my weary muscles and aching body. I couldn't think of a more qualified person to have help welcome new life into the world. Her email is kmptdoula AT and I encourage you to contact her. Please feel free to email me if you would like any other information. evalune

June 2003

My son and his wife are having their first child in late July, at Kaiser in Walnut Creek, and would like to hire a Doula. Recommendations? I've checked the archives, but only saw one in WC, and it was an old post. Susan

We used Holly Wiersma, who lives in Pleasant Hill and I think works with a lot of clients in Walnut Creek, though she came all the way to Oakland for us. She was wonderful - professional, supportive, compassionate. She was very respectful of our birth preferences and also very helpful to check in with when additional medical interventions were suggested to us. She also stayed in touch after the birth and was a lifesaver postpartum when we were getting all kinds of conflicting advice about breastfeeding etc. - she has a way of sorting through all the different opinions that helped us decide how to proceed. Sandy

Holly Wiersma is doula who has been around quite a while and is well known and respected in the community. I am a parent educator and know of many moms who have been very happy with Holly. Holly's Home phone: (925)947-5874 email: hdwiersma at

I also recommend Deanna Jesus who in addition to being a doula, is a Certified Hypnobirthing practitioner She is my doula and I am due in 2 weeks, I have been doing a combined doula/hypnobirthing series with her.

Deanna's Phone 925-216-7264 douladee AT


You can meet doulas there I am sure. Check out for more details Teresa

The Nurture Center in Lafayette keeps a binder of doulas and other birth professionals that you can look through. Most of the doulas practice in the 925 area code (and beyond).

May-June 2003

Does anyone know of any midwives of Color [especially African or African American] in the Bay Area??? I'm looking for someone for my second homebirth. anon

I had a wonderful african american nurse at Summit, who is also a doula. Perhaps she can recommend a midwife for you. Her name is Tora Springer, try contacting her at Tora941 at or 510-848-9724. Heather

I don't know an African-American midwife, but Beah Haber is Latina. She works in the Birth Home in Pleasanton, but also does home births. The doula who worked with me for my birth in January, Samsarah Becknell, is African American. You can contact her at Good luck!

There is an african-american midwife who works primarily at Highland Hospital, but also works Thursdays at women's clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. Unfortunately I only know her first name: Dana, but you might be able to track her down. good luck

For the person looking for a midwife of color - there is a home birth midwife in the East Bay named Lucero who is Latina, and another midwife told me she is a good midwife - but I don't know anyone personally who has used her services. Sorry I don't know her contact info - but you might be able to find it at Natural Resources or another business serving the home birth community.

I had a wonderful African American Doula. She is also a nurse, My daughter is 2, so she may have become a mid-wife, I'm not sure. Her name is Tora Spigner. Good luck.

Tracie Enis is a practicing African American midwife. I used her as my doula prior to her becoming a widwife a few years ago and had great results - she is wonderfully supportive. She can be reached at She is very committed to extending the traditional midwife services to the African American community. She also has an extensive network of African American birth and post birth resources. Good luck! Liz

Feb 2003

I'm considering hiring Constance Williams as my doula. I've seen one nice recommendation for her on the site but wondered if more of you out there have had good (or bad) experiences with her. Thanks. monica

Hi, I hired Constance as my doula. I am due in about 4 weeks and have had a couple of prenatal meetings with her. So far I really like her style and she is very easy to get along with. Of course, I would be very interested in hearing other opinions as well because I have not yet gone through labor. She seems to be great so far! a_m_k

We have hired Constance as our doula (we're due any day now). We think she is great and so far our money seems well spent. She has already met with us several times (at least 2hrs each session)and follows up with me every week. She is very caring, knowledgeable, and is well known in the doula community. The most important part is that we both feel very comfortable with her. I'm looking forward to her being a part of our birth and expect that she will be a great support person. Elisa

First off, let me say that I think doulas are great (seriously, I do), and I notice that people ask for recommendations alot. but if you're like me and can't (or in my case - couldn't) afford to have a professional come help you through labor and the days afterwards, I think you can have a healthy and happy and supportive birthing experience without one.

My husband and I don't have a lot of money - so instead of hiring someone, I asked my oldest friend and another good friend who had gone through labor before to assist my primary birthing coach. Then I was lucky enough to have my mom present as well. All three women were incredibly supportive and provided me with the nurturing and advocacy I needed and the rest my husband needed so he could be ''present'' when I really needed him. we called them at three in the morning and they came over and stayed with us until well after I delivered that afternoon. plus, they continue to present in my life weeks afterwards and will always be aunties for my son. So if you can't afford a doula, don't feel like your birth experience will be any less significant. That's just my two cents. Jen

When I was pregnant with my daughter (4 years ago) I took a childbirth class through Birthways and Constance attended the class as the labor partner of a pregnant teenager. I found her views on pregnancy and childbirth to be very one-sided, to the point of being militant about natural childbirth. Mind you, I myself was using a midwife and was pro-natural childbirth! Constance seemed to have a patent disdain for any medical involvement in the birthing process, and even made disparaging remarks about women who needed drugs for pain relief. I always wondered if it was a coincidence that her teenage partner dropped out of the class--or if it was Constance's strong opinions and ongoing commentary. The icing on the cake was Constance's assertion that SIDS was linked to babies' spines getting out of alignment during the birthing process, and that newborns should see chiropractors to be aligned after birth.

I wonder if you've talked to many other midwives in your search for someone you're comfortable with. I recommend Lindy Johnson highly (my midwife, Robin Hale, used to work with Lindy). I was looking for a midwife who would support my goals for a non- interventive, personal and powerful birth experience; but also someone who could discuss the pros and cons of any medical procedure and give me some balanced advice. If that's what you want, too, please be sure that Constance can see both sides!! My experience (though it's been 4 years ago!) is that she can't. Christina

Hi, I just wanted to add a strong recommendation for Constance Williams. The point about her having 'too many' clients at one time might be valid and I was especially concerned about this because my husband was traveling during the '5 wk zone of due date ranges'...but in all her years of service, she's only had 1 instance where 2 babies came during the same night and she always has backup. We met with her several times prior to our son's birth and met the back-up doula. I had a very difficult and fast 'back labor' once my water broke and then 4 hours of pushing because he wasn't in the best position..I can honestly say that she got me through all of that and was my rock. My husband was there and wonderful but he too was so grateful for Constance being there. This was in addition to the doctor, baby's nurse and midwife, who were all wonderful but it was Constance who helped all of us the most. And then she came over after he was born to make us an amazing home-cooked meal at our house and helped give the baby his first bath, etc. We can't say enough good things about her and are so blessed to have met her during that special time. Hope this helps! Jennifer

March 2003

Any recommendations for doulas who can coach me with a hypnobirthing birth? The Hypnobirthing courses helped tremendously with the birth of my first child, but I think I could really benfit from a doula this next time. Natasha

Hi Natasha - I've been snooping around for a hypnobirthing-friendly doula too and received the following recommendation from the Hypnobirthing Institute (Marie Mongan's program). Lu Ann Daly is a labor companion as well as a HypnoBirthing practitioner. She lives in Santa Rosa, but will travel down to the east bay for you if you ask her to. Contact her at 707-538-5133. The distribution manager from the Hypnobirthing Institute said to be sure to mention that you got her number from him (George from New Hampshire). Good luck! evelyn

Try Makini Duewa, a certified Doula and friend of mine. She is also trained in hypno-birthing. Phone: 625-1395 Brightstar

Recommendations from 2002 and Earlier

November 2002

I'm looking for a doula or *some one* who does self-hypnosis training for labor. Does any one know of anybody here in the bay area? Alesia

Debra at 7th Heaven Yoga in Berkeley teaches Hypnobirthing classes. Call 7th Heaven and ask if they can put you in touch with Debra. Whitney

Harpreet Sandhu in Berkeley teaches Hypnobirthing. amy

My friend Makini Duewa is a certified doula who is also trained in hypno-birthing. She might be able to help you. (510) 625-1395. Brightstar

Can't afford a doula - alternatives?

Oct 2002

This question is mostly an ''Advice'' question but a bit of a ''Recommendations'' question. Has anyone used a birth coach other than full doula services for hospital labor & delivery, so as to save some money? Or are there doulas who charge by the hour rather than by the delivery?

We are expecting child #3 around Christmas this year. Although both of my previous deliveries were without complication, the second one (when we hired a doula) was much better, as I was able to deliver without an epidural anesthetic and I felt much better afterwards. We used our doula only for the last 2-3 hours at Alta Bates hospital, & we were able to manage the earlier labor without her, at home. I would love to find someone just to help me manage the later stages, help reduce my anxiety and get through the contractions. At Alta Bates for both births, the staff were competant medically but did not help with pain or anxiety, and I felt the first nurse really encouraged the epidural too much because she was busy with another labor. I feel that in order to again avoid medication, I will need to again hire a birth assistant of some sort.

So here's the question. We just can't afford $600 right now, especially for just a couple of hours of help - and given that the third delivery is likely to go quite quickly, that may be all we need.

Has anyone used a professional who is not hired to provide full doula services? As in, is there such thing as someone who could do massage, or help with pain and anxiety management, just for the late labor? anonymous, please

Alta Bates has doulas on staff for free though they are a first come first serve. Also I had a nurse-midwife join me during labor after pushing for 3 1/2 hours and she really helped progress things in a natural way. I actually had an expereince in December with my nurse who really tried to get me to go through all the alternatives before getting medication -- I was the one who couldn't hold out past 6. I know it feels risky to wait until you get there but you could get lucky and have lots of options for people to help you deliver the way you want. Delivered at Alta Bates in Dec

I don't know about charging an hourly rate, but I do know that many local doulas charge less than $600. Some use a sliding scale. Others simply charge less because they have less experience. I would also think that even a more experienced, usually more expensive doula would be willing to consider a limited-service, lower fee arrangement like you suggest. Check out the files kept by Birthways and Birth & Bonding and make a few calls. Holly

I am an ALACE (Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators) trained Doula in training who has only attended one birth. I am very interested in attending more births, but have recently moved back to the Bay area and I have not been focusing on attracting more clients (though I am planning to.) I would be very interested in helping you with your birth at a very resonable rate. If you are interested call me and we can discuss working together further. Melissa

You might consider meeting with a new doula, who would most likely be very willing to provide services for free as a way to get more experience. One other thing to consider is that you really can't be sure what the next labor will be like, so it might be in your better interests to have someone lined up just in case you need one more/longer than you originally planned. Because of this uncertainty with labor most doulas are unwilling to hire per hour. However, I am sure there are exceptions! Try calling Birthways in Oakland, Natural Resources in SF, or the Nurture Center in Lafayette. Another good resource is Doulas of North America ( Good luck and congratulations! Laurel

greetings ~ although we had intended to use a doula with the recent birth of our son, it didn't end up working out. however, i've found out a lot through that experience (& we will definitely use one in the future) there are /many/ doulas who will work with you for the experience. & a lot know of different massage, accupressure, other methods for pain & anxiety. granted, you're not likely to get the most experienced people for free, but that doesn't always matter. i'd check out the DONA (doulas of north america) site & maybe do some other searches to try to find people & then conduct some interviews. in order to be certified, one has to not only go to classes, but attend so many births ~ so you're likely to find someone you click with who could assist you for significantly less. i'm pretty sure alta bates even told us they had doulas available. best of luck & feel free to contact me if you want anymore info/advice & i'll do my best :) julia

This is perhaps not the answer you are looking for, but why not take a girlfriend who has at least one child herself (so that she knows what's going on).

I did not have a doula but had my best friend with me who (16 years ago) had a long labor followed by a C-section because baby's head was too big. So she had seen it all before. Plus, like me, she had had back labor. She was really wonderful doing acupressure and taking turns with my husband pressing against my lower back. Also that allowed each of them to sneak out to get some food or to nap for half an hour without leaving me all alone. She was already with me during most of my labor at home.

Another thing if you don't want an epidural: Tell them right away to never ever offer you one. Make it very clear that you'll ask for it, if you want one. Also tell your husband/partner that you'll first tell him if you want one. He should then tell you to try without one for another fifteen minutes. According to the doula who tought my Lamaze class, in most cases that gets you ''over the hump''. In my case that resulted in me getting (after shift change) a nurse who had three kids herself all without epidural. And she was really helpful during my more than three hours of pushing. She was like a cheerleader which was exactly what I needed. Ina

There are many new doulas, some trained, some certified, that actually volunteer at Alta Bates. I know of one specifically who is a wonderful person and who I believe to be very competant. She has done 5 births as a volunteer, but just hasn't gotten out there to get paid clients.

I think you would be in good hands using a newly trained doula and they would likely charge less and be more flexible about hours. Laria, mother and postpartum doula

Jan 2002

I read the recommendations for labor doulas on the Berkeley Parents Network, and most of them either said or implied that the doula helped them avoid drugs during labor. I want to have a good birth experience, and for me this is likely to involve an epidural. I am looking for a doula who would not just tolerate but would support my choice to use pain-control technology--I know this goes against the philosophy of many doulas, but I'm hoping there will be some who share my attitude. Skill at massage would be a big plus; another plus would be someone who also works as a post-partum doula (though I am open to hiring a separate person for that function). Nomi

I had great doulas who were not necessarily pro-drug but did not try to stop me or make me feel bad when I decided to have the epidural. I had discussed that I may have the epidural when we met initially and I got the feeling that it was my choice to do whatever I needed to get through the birth process. I did not have the epidural until I was 8 or 9 cm dilated, so I did need their assistance for a long time with pain management (from about midnight until about 8:30 a.m.) Treesa McLean (510-581-1013) taught my birth class and we asked her to be our doula. She was very busy at the time I was due, so we decided that her friend Jennifer Starling (510-530-1660), who was also a doula and who assisted with our birth class, would be my backup doula. The big night came and of course, Treesa was at a birth in San Francisco (I delivered at Summit), so Jennifer came over. Treesa also came over too (too complicated to explain why they were both there) but Jennifer took care of me primarily. She massaged my back which I really needed since I had back labor. She did a lot of messy things that won't go into here with a sense of humor, kindness and gentle calm that was wonderful. They both went to hospital with me and were both wonderful. Treesa had to go back to the birth in the city before it was time to push, so Jennifer walked me through that part. My doctor, Goldee Gross, really liked Jennifer and asked for her card so that she could refer to other patients. Jennifer has young children so she does not do post-partum doula work I THINK, but Treesa was an absolute miracle post-partum doula. She taught me how to pump milk and how to deal with my painful engorged breasts. She make me an herbal soak for my stitches. She cooked DELICIOUS food. She changed sheets and did laundry. She helped me with breast feeding. She helped us bathe Emily the first time. She took care of Emily so I could sleep. SHE WAS WONDERFUL. All in all, I would highly recommend both Jennifer and Treesa! Lisa

I have once again to recommend my friend (and 2-time doula) Linda Jones-Mixon. In my earlier recommendation I did say that having Linda help out with the births of my daughters helped me avoid having to have any drug intervention, but I can't emphasize enough that not taking drugs was right for me, and Linda supported me because it was right for me, *not* because she cleaves to some absolute standard of natural childbirth. In fact, I know that had I needed (in my opinion) an epidural, she would have totally supported me in my attempts to have the birth experience that was right for me. The friend of mine who recommended Linda to me *did* have to use some drugs (a narcotic to take the edge off labor), and did so at least in part because Linda suggested (given how her labor was going) that it might be a good idea. She wants the birth to be right for you, and for your baby. I recommend her without reservation Donna

I had looked for a Pro-drug labor doula when my son was born 15 months ago, but found it quite difficult. In conversation with my OB, I discovered that there really wasn't much sense in paying the price for one. Once they admit you to the hospital, where the doula would meet you, you can pretty much request the epidural when you want it (at least that was my experience). Once you have the epidural, there's no point to the doula until after the baby is born and you are back in your room. I heard a friend once say that her doula ended up only rubbing her feet which proved annoying and expensive. I recommend communication with your OB and a clear understanding of what you want in your experience (i.e. an epidural asap or try to get as far as you can w/o one) and communication with your partner to encourage your vision of your experience. You will have a labor and delivery nurse, make sure you are happy with the once assigned or charge your partner with asking someone to switch. I would recommend the post-partum doula for help with breast feeding and caring for the baby after the birth and/or once you are home. good luck and best wishes. I had a great experience following all of what I just advised and hope it goes just as well for you. Lynn

I can recommend Felicia Roche as a wonderful doula who is level-headed and wise about the epidural/no epidural issue-- however, I would not say she is pro-drug. My husband and I hired her to be at the birth of our daughter, and while we were aiming for a natural childbirth, we also knew we had no idea what it was really going to be like and so we wanted our doula to completely support us if we decided to have an epidural. Felicia was one of the few doulas I interviewed who was accepting of epidurals. In the end, I managed to get through labor without one and Felicia was a life-saver. But I know she works with many of her clients who have them. She is in Alameda and her phone number is 510-864-8480. Kim

Our doula, Jennifer Starling, did not come between me and the epidural, the pitocin, the narcotics, or the breaking of my water during my 20 hour labor. Though my plan was to have a drug-free birth, I didn't feel she disapproved of our choice to use drugs once I decided I needed them. Instead, when I asked her opinion on what the doctor had suggested for me, she said she supported my decision. In our pre-natal consulation with her she told us that she would not discourage us from using drugs, and understood the need for them in some births (she had one birth with an epidural and the other natural). She massaged my legs and feet with oil often which was wonderful. At one point she also offeredw post-partum doula services, though I don't know if she still does. You can contact her at 530-1660, and if she has the same email address: jenstarling at Her easy-going temperment was the deciding factor for us in choosing her over others. Good luck angela

I highly recommend Treesa McLean (510)581-1013 as a birth and post-partum doula--drugs or no-drugs. She supports whatever your choice is and is there to fully support you regardless of whether or not you choose to have an epidural. I spoke to many doula's prior to the birth of my daughter and, like you, found that many were simply opposed to even the possibility that I might want drugs/epidural. Treesa was there for me and my husband, knowing that I might want an epidural. One thing you should keep in mind though--with my birth experience, I dilated so quickly that by the time I was yelling to get an epidural, drugs, anything, the moment had passed and alas, I had natural child birth. All this to say, that I'm pregnant again and expecting any day now, and we've hired Treesa again as our doula--and this time, I know I want an epidural! good luck. Leslie PS I don't know if I could have made it through naturally without her--I panicked. She's also great at massage and a great cook if you need the post-partum help too.

My Doula, Judy Ballinger, wasn't exactly pro-drugs but I ended up wanting them, and she was extremely supportive of my decision. In fact, she was right there, making sure I got what I asked for when I wanted it. I also ended up having an epidural, and her role there was mainly to be sure that I felt comfortable that all of my questions were answered by the anesthesiologist. I really felt she was listening to (and advocating for) MY wants, rather than her agenda. I'm expecting again in July and we'll be hiring her again. By the way, while she didn't do a lot of massage, she is an accupressurist, which did help somewhat. Also, my husband, who was a little overwhelmed by the whole experience, was very comfortable with Judy. I'd be happy to answer any questions about my experience -- my number is , and Judy's number is 236-1543. Good luck, Polly

As a doula of 11 years, I would like to address this issue. The comment was true in that many doulas would like to help women accomplish a drug-free birth. I also fall into that category -- but only if that is what the woman WANTS. I look at my work as a doula, as helping a woman or couple have the best birth they can have, based on their wishes. There have been occasions where I have suggested that the woman have an epidural (or another form of pain relief) because in my estimation, that would have been the best for her birth experience at that particular time. I would be willing to speak to anyone that feels they would like to have a doula at their birth, but are hesitant because feel they will want an epidural Linda Jones-Mixon

I would recommend Treesa or another wonderful doula/midwife: Esther Gallagher (415-821-4490) who teaches a class at UCSF for 'alternative birth methods'. Goodluck! Liz (May 2001)

Jen Bauman is a doula and midwife who works out of S.F. and I am pretty sure she has a fair amount of Kaiser expirence. She is terrific. I couldn't reccomend her more highly. Her number is 415-221-5958. Good Luck! Liz

Bay Area Birth and Postpartum 1-415-442-1918 has many doulas who are available both in SF and the Bay Area. They might help you find someone also familiar with Kaiser. Natural Resources 415-821-7068 also provides resources around childbirth.

My doula, Media Aranda was great. She's very involved in the local doula community, does birth education, works in the schools with pregnant teens, and she also has been doing a little bit of child care for us. I really recommend her. Her number is 415-do birth.

From: Beth (1/99)

Natual Resources in San Francisco's Noe Valley, on Castro by 24th Street, has a binder of local doulas. We'll be using Summer Andreason (my due date is Feb. 4). She is a massage therapist and a doula with plenty of experience, and I feel very comfortable with her. I'll send her number to you directly.

Nov 2001

I would like to recommend the doula who assited in the birth of my daughter in April. Her name is Linda Almond-Nichols. Her number is 925-228-8712. She was recommended to me by Janaki Costello and has had 20 years of experience. My husband and I both felt she did a wonderful job and felt very relaxed with her.. Linda is very warm, supportive, calm and easy going. She really helped facilitate ways for my husband to support me and participate in my labor, she advocated for us with the staff in a non-dogmatic way, and let me make the choices I wanted about my birth without pressure. Amzel

Nov 2001

We would have recommended Janaki - we took her birthing class and found it to be very enjoyable and educational. We would have been interested in using her Doula services too, but she was not taking clients when Charlotte was due. Her partner Carol Shattuck-Rice is also a Doula and we have heard good things about her. We know Carol and used her services as a Post-partum Doula and she was very helpful.

I had a very unusual experience with Janaki. She wasn't my doula, but rather came to my assistance via La Leche League after my son's birth in February 1998. Through a series of misadventures -- hemorrhaging during C-section and low iron for me, a very bad latch-on for the first week or so for me and my baby, all or some of these things, I guess, -- I presented myself to Janaki post-partum with lots of nursing problems. My son was losing weight and I was a wreck, nursing for an hour every other hour, yet he was still losing weight. The nursing hurt like a son of a gun, too, and the whole situation seemed to be more dire by the day. I'd wanted to nurse so badly, but it was going south at the rate of about 110 mph! I felt tremendous fear for my son and disappointment in myself for appearing to be a total and utter flop at what had always been described to me by my own mother as a breeze. To the point, Janaki was like an angel. My husband found her, and she responded very nicely to him, which underscores that she is comfortable around the fathers, too (very important!). Right away, she came from the East Bay to my apartment in San Francisco and helped me with latching on. She recommended things to eat and drink to get that milk production going, proving herself to be very knowledgeable. She called and checked on me, coached and encouraged me. It was a dark period for me and she just helped me so much. I was very emotional and she handled it so well, with a lot of candor, sympathy and courage. She made some good calls and went about helping me in a very measured way, thoroughly and calmly. While I'd felt some lack of support from a few others at the time, Janaki was working on behalf of me and the baby, as a unit, which is surprisingly rare and important.

I know this isn't the birthing part you were probably thinking of hearing about, but this post-partum help is equally crucial since sometimes things don't go perfectly during delivery and afterward. It's really important to have someone such as Janaki to lean on. She was the essence of capableness and optimism, her credentials which would see you well through any part of the process!

I liked Janaki so much and felt so soothed by her that my husband and I decided that if we ever had another baby, we would call her right away to hire her as our doula.
Lynn (2/00)

Our family highly recommends Carol Shattuck-Rice & Janicke Costello. Carol was our doula and Janicke was our lactation consultant. We hired them for both of our little cherubs.(one 3.5yrs & the other 11mos) They are F A B U L O U S! They are both very loving, SINCERE, knowledgable & dependable. In our opinion, they are the paradigm in their profession. Please don't hesitate to e-mail us for specifics. If we have a third child.....We would definitely employ them again. DOULAS ARE A GOOD THING!
Stanley (2/00)

Date: Dec 29, 1998
From: Jeanne

Janaki was our Doula for the birth of our daughter in 1995. She is is a Certified Doula, Childbirth Educator, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Date: Sept 13, 1997
From: Catherine

Regarding the request for a doula recommendation: I HIGHLY recommend Janaki Costello. She can be reached at home (510-525-1155). I cannot praise her highly enough. She was invaluable to my husband and I during both the birth process, and later giving practical advice and much encouragement regarding nursing. Janaki is both highly skilled and very caring and accepting. Good luck!

Date: Sept 13, 1997
From: Laura Beth

I cannot reccomend our doula highly enough. I also cannot reccomend simply having a doula highly enough. Our doula was Janaki Costello (525-1155). She will meet with you 3 or 4 times before the labor, comes and helps during the labor, stays afterwards, is a certified lactation consultant, won't leave until you have had a good latch-on, and comes to your house a couple of times in the next few days (after the milk has come in) to make sure everything is OK.

I am not kidding, when she talked to me during the contractions, they hurt less. She is a wonderful, caring person. She will take care of you, tell your partner that all of that groaning and screaming is normal, and stay with YOU even after your partner is mesmerized by the new baby but you still need someone to hold your hand. She totally follows your lead, but will also talk and ask questions of the hosptial staff for you.

Other benefits of hiring Janaki: Her back up is equally wonderful (Carol Shattuck-Rice) in case Janki is sick or something. and best of all, after the birth she wrote up the whole story of the day based on notes she took when I wasn't looking.

She really made our birth experience great.

Laura Beth

Nov 2001

We used a wonderful doula named Meghan Lewis. She came recommended to me by a friend who had worked with Meghan several months before me. Meghan is also a certified massage therapist, so a prenatal or postpartum massage is part of the deal. She was the right mix of crunchy/pragmatic for us, as she helped us get through a painful labor (I was stuck at 8 cm for 7 hours) without any medication. She was a great presence in the labor/delivery room; supported both me and my husband; and got along with the nurses very well. She also took lots of pictures during the whole time, which was a great memento to have afterwards. She charged us $775 back in April. Her number is 510-433-7402. Good luck! Teresa

My doula was Treesa McLean-510-581-1013) I would recommend Treesa . Liz (May 2001)

Doula Recommended: Treesa McLean, (510) 581-1013 Laurel

I can highly recommend Judy Shalev as a doula to help women in labor. She also does postpartum care. She's warm, loving and encouraging and is supportive of woman trying to avoid drugs and pitocin. She is not a midwife, though. She helps women during labor. Her number is 510-763-9362. -- Fran (June 1999)

My recommendation of Carol Shattuck-Rice is still on the web-site, and it's still true. I really liked working with her. I found her a nice blend of traditional and natural approaches. She used Rescue Remedy (homeopathic drops) on me, and it worked wonders, for instance. But when the nurses suggested a shot of Nubain, she was supportive of my decision to go ahead with it. I thought she was wonderful. Dawn

Our family highly recommends Carol Shattuck-Rice & Janicke Costello. Carol was our doula and Janicke was our lactation consultant. We hired them for both of our little cherubs.(one 3.5yrs & the other 11mos) They are F A B U L O U S! They are both very loving, SINCERE, knowledgable & dependable. In our opinion, they are the paradigm in their profession. Please don't hesitate to e-mail us for specifics. If we have a third child.....We would definitely employ them again. DOULAS ARE A GOOD THING!
Stanley (2/00)

I used Carol Shattuck-Rice as my doula in June 1998. I thought she was terrific. What did I like: We(my husband and I) met her several times in advance for dinner or such at our house. She was very warm,friendly, informative, let me ask 1000 questions, funny, supportive, reassuring. We let her know what we wanted to do during birth (natural childbirth no medical interference) and she was more than game to help make this happen once we were at the hospital. She came to our house once labor had started and we thought it was time for her to help me. She massaged me, talked to me, told me to do this and that to be more comfortable. Once at the hospital she reamined with me the whole time. I had a long 20 hour labor and almost 3 hours of pushing. Carol intervened several times with the nurses after conferring with me and realinzing I wasn't getting what i wanted. I eventually had an epidural which she gave me her opinion about (and we had talked about this in advance and I knew she would support what I wanted) and helped me labor as long as I could without it. But, the time came and I choose the epidural. She was terrifically supportive throughout and stayed with me well after my other suppport people(except my husband) left. I would highly reccomend her. Re: Janaki. She was Carol's back up and I met her an liked her. I did consult with her sevaral times after my son was born re:nursing issues. SHe was very Helpful. Good luck.
J.H. (2/00)

Date: Sept 13, 1997
From: Dawn

I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again: Get a doula! Labors with doulas, I'm told, are statistically 1/2 as long as labors without! Certainly that was true for me (my 1st--and so far only--labor was 9 hours, about 1/2 the national average, but evidently the average for those with doulas in attendence--I'm sorry but I don't have the reference for this figure).

As to specific doulas, I really enjoyed working with Carol Shattuck-Rice. She's located in the Berkeley area, and knows the procedures and staff of Alta Bates very well. She's warm and caring, has had kids of her own, and has attended over 40 births (perhaps more than 50 by now). She knows some homeopathic and natural remedies to try for various circumstances, and to top it all off, she's a great photographer, if you want that (I have some wonderful photos of the actual birth--but she won't do it if you don't want it). Her phone number is 527-7210.

Good luck!

I gave birth to my son in 8/98 with Hsiu-Li as my m/w and used Alice Elliot as my doula. We ended up having an induction, but with Alice's, Hsiu-Li's, and my husband's support, it was still a great birth (6 hours long, one shot of Nubian for pain relief). I highly recommend Alice Elliot. You can e-mail me to get her number, but I'm sure she's listed in the phone book as well. Good luck!

Regarding Doulas:

We have a 38 hour newborn girl.

Our experience with Alice Elliot as a doula was nothing short of phenomenally great.

Between Alice and Lindy Johnson, CNM, and the staff of Alta-Bates we had a once in a lifetime amazingly great first time birth experience.

I hope this doesn't seem too vague or ambivalent. Jerry ( Sept 16, 1997)

I highly recommend Sarah Frigah, a wonderful doula and a terrific person to be with during your birth. Sarah is lively, warm, caring, calm, and very knowledgeable about what she is doing. She is very strong and will be wonderful in any crisis (God forbid) situation. I couldn't imagine giving birth without her wonderful presence. If she hasn't moved yet-she is at 232-3021. Hava (Nov 2001)

I had a terrific doula after the birth of our daughter 10 months ago. Her name is Esther Gallagher at 415/821-4490. She is caring, warm, down to earth, and a terrific source of nurturing and advice. She is also a lactation consultant so her help was invaluable as we started nursing. I was surprised at how completely comfortable I was having her around at such in intimate time. She came for about 3-4 hours/day, we would sit and talk (when we went for our first visit to the pediatrician we had no questions as we had processed so much with Esther...), then she would go into power mode clean the house and prepare delicious food. She was fine with coming over from San Francisco. She was a god-send and I would instantly engage her again if we have a second child. Mostly, I really loved and trusted her advice. Her approach is very open and listening, but she definitely has a point of view about trusting and listening to the needs of the baby which really influenced my parenting style.
Nancy (2/00)

Valerie Ingalls was my doula last fall. I highly recommend her--she has a very special quality that is just wonderful to share at a time that is really quite intimate. So she fit right in the situation, supporting what our wishes were (for a birth plan), and making suggestions throughout my (very long) labor that really helped. She is a midwife, too--just doesn't have her license in California yet. She has two very wonderful sons of her own. (May 2001)

Nov 2001

My wife and I had a terrific experience giving birth at Summit Hospital with a Doula. Her name is Linda Jones Mixon. She is patient, caring, wonderful and her communication style is friendly and to the point. We just think she is great. We still see her from time to time and our daughter Charlotte -- whom she helped to deliver just adores seeing her. Besides being a Doula, Linda owns and operates a baby store in Berkely called Pickles and Ice Cream on N. Shattuck at Virginia st.

You can reach Linda at: 510-540-7210 or 510-232-7678. When you call her -- if you call her -- you can certainly say you were referred by Adam and Melissa. Good luck, Adam

I'd like to second the recommendation for Linda Jones Mixon as a wonderful labor and delivery doula. We found her to be almost laid-back in her first-impression communication style, but straightforward and candid whenever we asked her questions about what to expect, especially with regard to the environment at Alta Bates where we delivered. She has a great sense of humor, too.

Linda came over at 10 a.m. and supported us through early labor, then recommended when we ought to go the hospital. When we arrived, all labor-and-delivery rooms *and* triage were full, but the nurses knew her well and trusted her when she said I really needed a room asap. She was right on the money; when they got me in I was already 9+ cm! Things got kind of hung up from then on, but she remained cool and collected throughout -- a great sounding board and support for my husband, while I was off in my own little world. She stayed through till it was all over -- 2 a.m. Though we had a difficult labor and delivery, we felt the whole experience was very positive thanks to Linda's assistance and support for all of our decisions, and her reassurance that we were in charge of those decisions and shouldn't feel rushed by the medical staff. Her 10+ years of experience attending hundreds of births showed in her unflappability throughout, as well as her pragmatic philosophy of attending the birth with just her hands, no bag of tricks necessary.

Funny -- as we look back through the photos, there's Linda, with her sunglasses perched on her head through the whole thing.

This was four months ago -- she charges in the upper end of the $500-1000 range that others have mentioned for doula services.

From: Linda (3/98)

I HIGHLY recommend Linda Jones-Mixon as a doula. The First Six Weeks She was our saviour; what more can be said! I used her for post-partum care, but know of others who used her during the birth.

I have recommended her to 5 or 6 others. All have used her and adored her as well.

Re: Doula Patty Lapinska: We used her 20 mos ago, and she was great. Her fee included several pre-birth visits to the house, as well as one post-partum. Though my husband and sister in-law were present, they felt like she was very good at telling them how they could best help. We met her partner after we had already decided to use Patty. In retrospect we might have even been more comfortable with her, so be sure to interview both of them. Janet (May 2001)

Patty was the Doula who assisted us at the birth of our now 3 year old. She is great -- smart, sympathetic, supportive of natural childbirth but not dogmatic about it -- will support whatever the couple decides. She is a great advocate. We had to make some decisions on interventions and she helped us sort through our options and make our own decisions, rather then be pressured by the doctors. I would strongly recommend her. Kathy (May 2001)

I highly recommend Kim Lyons, the doula who attended the birth of my third child two months ago. She is a massage therapist (need I say more?) with a very calming presence She brought a birthing ball, which was very helpful, did acupressure to keep the labor moving along, and I got through the birth with no drugs and no stitches! She also includes an infant massage session after the baby is born. Meri (Nov 2001)

My labor doula was Lucia Meager (510-524-4825) who also works as a post-partum doula. She took care of my husband and I during the early phase of labor and throughout. Her calm presence and comforting touch (the best foot massage of my life) ensured that my husband and I were in a state of relaxation and trust from the beginning of the labor to the end. Lucia is a dream doula: skillful, mindful, helpful in every regard. I know others who have hired Lucia as a post partum doula (cooking, cleaning, holding baby, doing whatever is needed to give mother rest and peace of mind) and were grateful that they had Lucia in their lives after the baby was born. Justine (5/01)

I highly recommend Jeanne Racik as a Labor Support/Postpartum Doula. She assisted me at the birth of my daughter and Jeanne was very caring. She was willing to let me create the birth that worked for me and my family without putting any judgements on my choices. She also helped after the birth and it was beautiful to see her ease with my newborn. You can call Jeanne at 510-594-4363 or contact me for more high praise:)! (Mar 2001)

I did have a wonderful doula who SAVED the birth for me and helped make it a great experience. Her name is Mary Rossi, and I don't have her number with me, but you can find her through New Life Midwifery. NLM is in the phone book.

I'd like to recommend my doula, Jennifer Starling. She trained with Patti Lipinski and has been working as a doula for a few years. She really helped me get through my very long labor and made my family comfortable, too. When I delivered in February, she was charging a sliding scale of $4-700, whatever you can pay. That included two pre-labor visits, one post-labor visit, and of course, being there for the birth. Jennifer is at: 530-1660. Whitney (Nov 2001)

My doula was Jennifer Starling. We hired her because she was genuine and pleasant. Also, her fee was reasonable. She has been a doula for at least 10 births (probably more by now), has the experience of having her own children, and also has certification. Jennifer met with us 3-4 times before the birth, met us at the hospital about a half hour we arrived, and stayed with us until 2 hours after the birth, a total of nearly 24 hours. She gently guided my husband on coaching techniques, massaged my legs and feet during contractions, and was someone I could lean on throughout the labor. I would recommend her as a possible choice. Her email address is: jenstarling at Angela

I would like to recommend Sandy Swing as a Doula. She was very helpful during the labor of my son. Despite complications I had, she coached me well, was very caring and attentive. Her number is: 510-.486-8221. Diana (May 2001)

In 1999 our wonderful doula was Annie Rodriguez, tel. (925) 926-0276. Good luck! Tracy

I didn't know if you were looking for a pre or postpartum doula. Since you mentioned labor maybe you were looking for a labor coach? Anyway I have two recommendations: Labor coach: Patty Lapinska 849-1082 Doula: Carol Egan - 528-1694 I used both. Patty for my delivery and Carol for 6 weeks after my twins were born. Both were great. Marissa