The Birth Story of Travis:
Travis was my first baby and I remember debating if I needed a doula because I was planning on having my son in a hospital. I was given some good advice from family and friends and decided to start searching for a doula. I got a list of doulas and had heard good things about Shawna. I decided she would be the first doula to interview….well I never interviewed any other doulas after her (haha) because after my first meeting with her I felt so at peace and well cared for that I knew she was the one. Shawna met with me a couple times before my labor and was so good at helping me plan, prep, and be excited about my labor instead of intimidated.
My labor started not long after midnight and by around 3 am my husband called Shawna. My son was coming almost 2 weeks early but Shawna was on it. She answered her phone and said she would meet us at the hospital shortly. I started my labor violently vomiting and I was so relieved to have Shawna at the hospital communicating and advocating on my behalf. I had chosen to try for a no epidural/pain meds labor and Shawna was so good at encouraging me and supporting me through my decision. I probably could not have achieved this goal without her. During my labor Shawna did a great job of suggesting alternative pain relief techniques and was great at encouraging me to keep moving even when I didn’t want to haha. She was greatly skilled at guiding and encouraging my husband to support and help me throughout the entire labor. She did a great job of allowing my husband and I to work together but be readily available if we had need. She offered so much positivity I didn’t have room for a negative thought in my brain while in labor haha, which is pretty impressive for someone like me. Shawna was also so great at encouraging me in my faith. After giving birth, I realized how spiritual of an event it is. You are pushed beyond any emotional, physical, and mental capacity you ever thought you could reach, but in those moments I was drawn so close to Jesus because I knew He was the only one who could sustain and pull me through each contraction and push. Shawna understood how important this was and prayed with me and helped make sure I had my worship playlist on repeat haha. She was also awesome at making sure I had the things you don’t focus on in the middle of your labor. She made sure I had plenty of ice and fluids, hot packs, cold packs, reminded my husband to take a break if needed, even asked the nurse if I could have a snack while in labor, took pictures, and so much more. When I think back on my labor I am so thankful that I chose a doula (nurses can’t be in the room as much as you would like), and I am even more thankful that Shawna was my doula. I couldn’t have achieved the goals I had without you!!
The birth story of Riley:
The decision to hire a doula was the best decision I ever made. Getting Shawna was a blessing. I'd had a previous birth that had been traumatizing. It took me five years to get up the nerve to have another child because I was so scared. With my first birth, I felt like I had no control over what was happening to me. I'm a high risk pregnancy, and I felt like because of that, I just had to do what hospital staff said without question. When I left the hospital after the birth of my son, I felt broken, disappointed, and overwhelmed. I vowed if I ever had another child, I would do everything in my power to keep from feeling like that again.
After 5 years, I was finally brave enough to try again. I'd researched doulas and found Shawna. I was so excited. And then we lost the baby. I was devastated. Shawna was incredibly supportive and when I got pregnant again, she was right there ready to help. She kept telling me "different baby, different birth."
Everything seemed to be going well until my 38 week appointment. I was told the baby was growth restricted and scheduled for an induction two days later. When I told Shawna the doom and gloom the doctors had told me, she was calm and that kept me grounded. I ended up getting contractions naturally just a few hours later. After having contractions all day, I went to the hospital and was told that I was making a bit of progress, but wasn't having "real" contractions so they were going to admit me to start pitocin. I called Shawna and told her that they were going to start the pitocin and that it was going to be a long night so she didn't need to come. She did two things right then that completely changed the course of events for the better. 1. She told me that of course she was coming immediately because she was there to support me. 2. She told me to consider asking to hold off on the pitocin because I was showing progress. Less than half an hour later, she was in the room and asking the nurse if we could hold off on the pitocin as long as I was making progress. I was glad she asked because I was, again, feeling railroaded by "procedure."
The nurse was great and worked with Shawna. I attribute the short labor I had to Shawna keeping me moving and helping my husband and mother coach me through my contractions. In addition, I never had to have pitocin, and I'm sure it was because of Shawna's expertise. My baby was born at 7 pound and not growth restricted in the least. Shawna had told me to trust my body and the baby and she was right.
This may sound unrealistic, but when I left the hospital this time, I felt like a million bucks. It was nothing like my prior labor. Shawna not only helped me, but also my husband and mother who had "survived" the previous birth with me. They both said they were thankful to have her.
I couldn't have had the birth experience I had without Shawna. Even with the worry of the growth restriction, I had a great experience with labor and delivery. My husband and I plan to have more babies and we look forward to having Shawna as our doula again. She was my advocate and an additional support to me and my family. It's pretty simple: birth is just better when Shawna is there.
The birth story of Jackson:
Where do I start with the review of this amazing Doula??
Shawna was everything i could have asked for and more! I birthed at Kadlec, and she knew where everything was (as I did not!) and she knew to ask for the peanut exercise ball (that thing was AMAZING). She was able to instruct my mother and husband on what to say/do when they looked lost or were just standing around, she guided my husband on how to get more involved in helping relax/calm me. She said the most encouraging words during labor, she almost took over a motherly role, such a WONDERFUL Doula!
The birth story of Skye Avery:
Skye was born on Sunday, August 23rd, 2015, at 9:46 pm. She was 19 inches long, and 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Throughout my pregnancy, I would contact Shawna, or she would contact me via text, to see how things were going. Shawna was very attentive, and answered my questions and helped with my concerns.
I was a high risk pregnancy, and couldn't have my baby delivered at home. So instead, my husband and I started looking for a birthing coach, and we ended up finding Shawna Whitten. She is now more then just a Doula to me, she's my friend, and even more, she's a part of my youngest daughter's birth!
The day that I went into labor and delivery, I had been up most of the night with contractions, and for 3 weeks, my body had tempted to go into labor. I would ask Shawna questions, even in the middle of the night, and she never made herself unavailable to me. She was always answering my questions, and helping me with any and all of my concerns, as silly as some of them were, she comforted me, and made me feel as though my questions were valid, and that I should never feel silly for asking her about anything. Anyways, the day I went into labor, and delivered my baby, I was at the hospital for 4 hours before we were admitted for actual delivery. Once my water had been broken, I gave Shawna a text to come down, and be there for us. (My husband, Mother -Alicia-, and myself) After my water was broken, and Shawna had arrived, Shawna encouraged me to walk around, to help get my contractions to become stronger. This was helpful, but then I needed to sit and rest off and on, or labor on the toilet. After a couple of hours, Shawna suggested that I try a birthing ball. I was uncomfortable, so I shifted to the bed, then back to standing, and I raised the hospital bed, so I could lean on it, and rock my hips, side to side. After a while, I would go to the bathroom to labor on the toilet, and my contractions started to become much stronger, and more painful. I was able to come out of the bathroom once my husband came in for me. Shawna suggested a few methods, while I had some great contractions, but my body rejected the suggestion of the peanut birthing ball under my legs, while contracting, but while laying down nearly on my stomach, the peanut ball was amazing!! And Shawna even put the other pillows around and under me in a very comfortable position. And once my Mom started helping distract me from contractions, it was Shawna's suggestion of a hospital gown for my Mother and I to use as a distraction, it was later deemed "The Shut Up Rag" by my husband, and I found this method the most helpful, until I could no longer do this task. "The Shut Up Rag" method goes as follows:
Twist a scarf, or hospital gown, and give one end to the birthing mother, and the other to the labor coach, or Mother/ Mother in law, or husband to hold. Once the laboring mother starts a contraction, she will pull it, and what I did was pull, and focused on my breathing. My Mother was the one on the other end of the gown. This is like playing tug-o-war, but a much more intense version of this same thing. I would, in the beginning, raise the gown, and because I like it quiet when I'm focusing, my husband coined "Raise the shut up rag when you want us to be quiet." And that's how it went for about 30 minutes, until I could no longer find the strength to raise the gown any longer.
My position on the bed was as if I was sitting in a laid back position on my bed at home, only with the foot of the bed completely dropped. I didn't like wearing the gown, and had asked if it was okay with my Mother, Shawna, and my husband if they didn't mind if I was naked while birthing, seeing as I had wanted to have baby skin to skin right after she was born, I didn't see what the point of wearing a gown would be. They all agreed, I should be as comfortable as possible, so I was naked. I also remember, quite a ways at the beginning, Shawna helped to rub my back, and she was very comforting, and gave me encouragement through each of my contractions while I labored. Every time I would have one that was leading to the crowning of my baby, she would tell me how good I was doing through it, and how calm I looked, and how amazing I had done when it was all over. I had never been so at peace during labor, until I had Shawna. I had no idea how peaceful I looked while I would breath, and squeeze my mom's and husband's hands while focusing on the sound of my own breathing. It was all very intense, and happened very quickly to me.
Once I was given a pit drip, I was checked for cervical dilation once, and I was at 7 centimeters, and as soon as the nurse left the room, more fluid came gushing out of me, and my daughter was crowning! Shawna pulled the emergency chord, and my nurse came back in, just time to catch my daughter. I have to say, the birthing would have been different, and I don't know how I'd get by without Shawna's suggestions. I will forever remember "The Shut Up Rag" as a means of how amazing just the right suggestion can be while laboring. I know that each mother is different, and I know that I didn't know what my body would like or dislike until I was laboring, and my experience with Shawna was outstanding! She stayed until my mom and husband came back from the store with food to celebrate, seeing as my daughter was born after the kitchen in the hospital closed, so my mom spoiled me and got me, because I have a gluten sensitivity, gluten free chocolate cake, mini sausages, and gluten free mac'n'chese. I felt like a queen. Shawna has since, checked up on me, and made sure that I am, and my baby are doing well. I will always praise the amazing way that Shawna made my husband and I feel, and even my mother. I will always look at the way my youngest daughter was born, and thank God for Shawna Whitten. Without her, I know my birth story would not be the same, and I LOVE the impact she has made on my life, and my family's life. If you are looking to be comforted, loved on, and taken care of while you labor, have Shawna there, and you will never look at your birthing the same way again! Thank you Shawna! We love you!
The Birth of Coleman Dean IV:
Our sweet boy came earth side on April 2, 2017, after 42 long weeks and 4 days of gestation. Shawna was a tremendous support and asset to me and my husband both during the entirety of my pregnancy, birth of our son, and the weeks following.
My husband and I have a blended family; I have two children from a previous relationship, and he has one. This was my second home birth (third time giving birth). That experience along with having worked alongside some local midwives as a Midwife Assistant in training had provided me with some knowledge and experience surrounding birth; I had a pretty good idea what to expect. My husband however, had never witnessed a natural birth before, so this experience was very new for him. I will admit, I was slightly worried how he would handle the raw, intense, primal experience that birth is, but we knew wanted the birth of our son to be an intimate experience for us to share in together, and I knew I wanted to lean on my husband as my main support system. Shawna came to our home in the weeks leading up to baby's anticipated arrival, and talked to us about our hopes, fears, anticipations, and expectations surrounding our baby's birth. She helped my husband by demonstrating ways to help me cope with labor pains and ways to keep my comfortable, answered any questions we had, reassured him that his love, support, and presence would mean more to me than he knew, helping to prepare us for what was to come.
The day our baby was born, I was lying in bed, trying to get some rest between early contractions when suddenly my water broke. I was home alone, and a little frightened that labor would be crazy fast since baby was so far passed his estimated "due date". I called my husband first, my midwife, and immediately after called Shawna. Luckily, she was already on her way over to check in with me, so she arrived very shortly after; she was the first one there. She was an awesome support, kept me level headed and calm, and reassured me that everything was okay. When my husband and midwife arrived, the intensity of my labor picked up quickly. I prefer to labor in privacy; I like my environment to be serene, and I enjoy listening to native music or birthing affirmations. Shawna was excellent at gauging what level of support to give me. For someone like me, who has been through this a couple times, I knew what to expect and how I would cope. There were times when I wanted left alone with my husband only, as that's where I feel the most safe, and Shawna was very understanding and respectful of that. There were also times that got difficult for me, and my husband felt helpless; Shawna would step in and offer gentle guidance and reassurance. I appreciated not only Shawna's attention to me (making sure I was comfortable, hydrated, had food to eat, etc.), but her attention to my husband as well; she was great at making sure he was taken care of so that he was better able to care for me like I needed him to. At one point, baby was stuck behind my pubic bone, so I needed oxygen and to switch poses to bring him around. After feeling the urge to push, and actively pushing for some time, I remembered a small mouthpiece Shawna had provided me with called a Laboraide. We put that in my mouth, I continued to push, and my midwife was astounded at the difference that made! I was making such great progress! At 8:18pm, we were blessed with a beautiful birth, in the comfort of our own home after 6 hours of labor.
Although I birthed at home and didn't necessarily need Shawna as an advocate (my midwife was already on board with all of my birthing wishes), she was absolutely essential for the extra care and attention that was given to myself and my husband that day. I can only see how her services and support would be that much more essential if you are desiring a natural birth at a hospital; not only would she serve as a great support system, but as an advocate for your birthing choices in a place that is very medical-minded and not used to doing things "naturally".
One of my favorite quotes by Ina May Gaskin: "If a woman doesn't look like a goddess during labor, then someone isn't treating her right." Now, I'm not sure I looked like a goddess during labor (haha!), but I do know felt like one. I am so grateful for the empowering support system I had by my side that day, I really wouldn't change a thing. My husband and I are expecting a baby at the end of the year, and I will have Shawna by my side once again! Shawna is empathetic, understanding, proactive, supportive, kind and considerate, and has a lot of valuable experience. Shawna truly is there to serve you in the most genuine way, and she will be there to support you at whichever level you need her to be. Shawna's presence can be as discreet as standing by you silently should you need her, to being completely hands on and involved each and every step of the way. Every mama, whether a first time, third time, of fifth time, deserves an a doula like Shawna by their side!