Anel 

"Birth by chocolate...We covered my deep desire to have a completely drug-free experience (since I was essentially denied that with my daughter's birth), my eternal love of chocolate, and my seemingly silly desire to celebrate the birth with a pint of Guinness.  The day of my son's birth, Vanessa was there to support me, encourage me, and keep me full of chocolate through the whole process.  It gave me the energy to push out my 8lb 15oz baby boy in one hour.  Knowing that I was able to bring him into this world as I had always envisioned and with the support of this amazing woman and my partner came the most immense rush of positive emotions. But then to be handed a glass full of Guinness pushed this experience over the edge into perfection.  This is the way childbirth should always be.”

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Amy

To make a long story short, my husband called at 5:15 asking Vanessa to come quickly. She arrived at 5:45, and my son was born at 6:52am, 20 minutes after our arrival. My labor was fast and intense! I don't know how I would have done it without Vanessa as my husband was on logistics duty trying to get us out of the house and into the car to the hospital. One of my favorite memories from that morning was being stowed into the back of our station wagon on all fours as we drove to the hospital. Vanessa was right next to me holding my hand the entire time. She never let go and always had a confidence in her voice that made me believe I would actually make it to the hospital and not birth our child in the car. Another funny memory is of her feeding me chocolate and a breakfast burrito about an hour after the birth. I was high on hormones and STARVING and nearly bit her fingers off! She stayed long enough to help me get settled in and left soon after so that my husband, baby and I could bond. She also came to visit a week postpartum so that I could drill her with questions about the birth which was wonderful because I'd already forgotten so much. Vanessa is so knowledgeable and nurturing with a wonderful sense of humor which (I believe) is incredibly helpful during childbirth! I wholeheartedly recommend her and have told every pregnant friend in SF to consider her as part of their birthing team.

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Cari

I tell anyone who asks (and some people who don't) that we had the ***most*** wonderful birth experience, and it was really thanks to Vanessa. First of all, it was so relaxing and calming to spend the last few weeks of my pregnancy knowing I was in such good hands. On the big day, there is no way it would have gone as smoothly and wonderfully as it did without her. She helped us think through choices even in difficult moments. She had the in-the-moment suggestions that made things hugely better, she is a rockstar pushing coach, and she really has that magical quality of being able to tune into where you're at and help you through it. She really has a gift. If you're wondering if you should have a doula at all -- do it! We wondered the same thing, and now my husband and I are both, so grateful that we did. 

 

Sarah

I wanted to give an unmedicated childbirth a shot but wasn’t opposed to asking for pain medicine.  I wanted to be certain that our doula would be supportive of my choices during birth, even if they included pain medication.
Come labor, my baby settled into LOP (posterior) position, and each contraction in front was immediately followed by a contraction in back.  I expected to have some down time between contractions, and not having a break was challenging.  Vanessa calmly explained that I was having clustered contractions which were typical with a baby in LOP position. Having a name for the type of contractions I was experiencing and learning they were typical given my baby’s position made the experience less frightening and easier to handle. We tried every positional change to encourage my baby to move, but she just didn't want to.
When I got back into bed from the tub having experienced clustered contractions, Vanessa made sure only the attending physician examined me to determine my level of dilation, so I wouldn’t have to undergo an additional examination by a resident.  
I had a lot of difficulty urinating during labor but was terrified of getting a catheter.  Vanessa provided alternative remedies to help me pee.  When they didn’t work, she very gently suggested that a catheter could empty my bladder and help alleviate some of the pain of the contractions, which it did.
When a resident who was unfamiliar with my history commented that my baby was especially big, Vanessa asked why she thought my baby was large. (She turned out to be just under 8lbs). Her questioning was very welcome. There was no reason to believe my baby was too big for my pelvis and of course she wasn't.
I gave birth at 6 the following evening. Vanessa was able to provide both my husband and me with support.  My husband was able to get some rest, because Vanessa was able to keep me calm and comfortable.  
While my husband and I had taken a childbirth course and discussed the comfort measures we expected to use during labor, we forgot many of them once we got to the hospital. Vanessa was able to remind us of the measures we had discussed.  
I ended up getting an epidural when I was 7 cm dilated.  Vanessa massaged my feet to help keep my circulation going and alleviate water retention.
After delivery, I had swelling and discomfort.  Vanessa made a tea for the sitz bath that offered immediate relief. We were so happy to see her when she visited in the postpartum!