(757)375-0939 amaradoula@gmail.com


Jennifer’s Story:

Amara is not just knowledgeable and supportive (although she surpasses many in both of those things). She is calming and intuitive. There were times in my labor when I forgot she was there, but still felt the essence of her presence. She embodied the atmosphere I needed without ever having to ask me to define my needs. She supported my desire to have a natural birth with my second child, and assisted in making that birth a healing experience. But she is more than someone to put pressure in the right place, or tell you how amazing you are, assuring you that you can do the things your body was designed to do. Without coddling, she empowers. Her strength is invaluable. Women have historically bonded together in childbirth, supporting each other and offering guidance and insight. Today, we can no longer depend on that from our friends and family, especially if we are interested in unmedicated birth, as it is no longer the norm. I have no sisters, but having Amara with me at my birth felt like having a sister beside me who had been there, who understood where I was and how important my journey would be. She has told me that we did not need her, and that my husband and I brought our daughter into the world together and could have done it without her there just as well. But I don’t believe that. While Amara has a bag of tools, and knows every trick in the book, she fills a void that can’t be filled with a heat pack or dim lighting. She offers something a husband cannot. From the first time I met her, she never felt like a stranger I had hired to help me through labor, which was my biggest fear in hiring a doula. At the moment my daughter entered the world, I truly felt as though I were surrounded by a sisterhood of women. Amara is that sisterhood. She was born to doula.

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Meghann’s Story:

Within the first 10 minutes of meeting Amara, my husband and I both knew we wanted her to be with us on our journey to parenthood. I immediately felt more at peace, more calm and confident the moment I began envisioning her with me during my labor and birth. We hired her on the spot at our first meeting, and since then, even to this day, she has been a wealth of information and resources as well as a trusted friend. This was my first pregnancy, and I have a history of trauma with hospitals and doctors, so, even though my plan was a birth within a birth center with midwives, the idea of entering a hospital at all for me was terrifying. Amara was a constant, steadying presence for me in moments of doubt or panic and I knew that she would always be there for me if the need arose to write to her or to talk.

We had over 6 months from the time we hired her until we were expecting our little boy to arrive, and we decided that, in addition to having her as our doula, we would attend her 8-week BirthWorks class–essentially providing us with the birth education we needed and that was required of us to give birth at the birth center, as well as giving us the opportunity to see and get to know Amara better once a week for 2 months leading up to our birth month. We could not have been happier that we chose to do this, because, along with the incredible wealth of knowledge, amazing birth videos, relaxation visualizations, and a whole host of concrete labor tools, techniques, and positions, we were also lucky enough to get to see Amara’s kind smile, sweet eyes, and give her quick updates and hugs each week. To me the consistency of seeing her, getting to know her and letting her know us better, enriched our relationship and made her role in our transition to parenthood even more poignant.

My early labor was erratic, but shifted quickly into hard labor and then transition much more quickly than any of us could have anticipated. By the time we really knew what was happening and had called Amara to come, my water had broken in our bathroom and I was in the thick of transition, and feeling the urge to push! In my mind, we had waited too long to go to the birth center, and I was terrified and mentally preparing myself to have the baby in the bathroom. I did NOT want to get into the car and risk delivering on the side of the road. My poor husband could not convince me to leave. Amara’s time with us at our home was very brief, but she played a vital role that night, as I would not have trusted ANYONE but her to tell me that I had time to make it to the birth center, as we only live 5 minutes away. I am so grateful that I had that trusted relationship with her that we had grown for so many months, right along with our sweet baby boy, that I was able to look into her eyes and summon the courage to get up off our bathroom floor and shuffle out of our house into that chilly April night. We arrived at the birth center at 11:30pm and Henry was in my arms at 12:07am! She was right there with me the whole time, her voice, her hands, her love and kindness–it floated in the room with me as I floated in that intense pain and intense joy…I was so glad to feel her near me as she witnessed our beautiful, everyday miracle. She has seen hundreds of births and yet I felt, as I know she does as well, that each baby born is like the first time. She sees the extraordinary in each new baby, in each new family that is created, in the ordinary miracle that is birth, and she gives her whole heart to her calling. My husband and I both will be forever grateful to Amara for the support she gave us during that amazing journey and she will always have a special place in our hearts. Don’t hesitate to meet her and welcome her into your lives. You’ll always be happy you did.

Stacy’s Story:

Amara and I met well before I became pregnant with my second child through my work as a Lactation Consultant. This gave me the opportunity to really get to know her as a person, mother, woman, and friend. Amara has a very calming presence and a joyful passion for her “job” in helping other mothers out during a most vulnerable, yet empowering time. Honestly, we weren’t even sure about using a doula because we didn’t for our daughter and Eric is a wonderful, supportive birth partner! We felt that with our preparation, our homebirth midwives would be sufficient. But, I had said that if I did hire a doula, Amara would be the one, as I really connected with her peaceful spirit and gentle nature. As time went on, and my pregnancy progressed, we began to think more about the logistics of labor the second-time around. And, although my husband is wonderful, we also had a 4 year old daughter (and her needs) to consider. I knew that I would need some extra assistance and no family members would be able to attend my birth. After some discussion, I realized it was important for me to feel safe and supported by having someone devoted to only me and my needs during labor. This freed up my husband to attend to our daughter however was necessary, depending on how it all played out. Amara was indeed the clear choice. This was cemented after seeing some of her work captured by a local birth photographer; and I knew when I saw the look of care and concern on her face while comforting a laboring mama, that she was EXACTLY who I wanted at my side as we brought our baby into the world.

We met and talked about everything throughout the pregnancy, and she gave me plenty of resources to help me with birth. We had planned a home water birth, and I was preparing using the Hypnobabies program she lent me. When the morning of my regular contractions started, I gave her a heads up. Because I had prepared so well, we weren’t sure at which point she should come. We decided she should come over and hang out with us for a while, and I think that is another reason why I was able to stay so relaxed. I labored on the ball, in my recliner, and in the bathtub all while chatting away and laughing with my friend. Eric was able to get some rest and coordinate care for my daughter while Amara was at my side. Quiet and unobtrusive when necessary, she moved and did what I needed her to do. Other times she offered soft, encouraging words, or we had a lively conversation. She seemed to intuit what I would require, and adapted accordingly. Amara kept my midwives appraised as well at the times I was unable. At one point, probably during transition, I was wondering about the sanity of my choice to do this, and she calmly reassured me. Amara was so level-headed and directive when necessary in assisting me. She was great with my husband and very matter-of-fact, which he really appreciated. She provided support to my husband while the midwives helped my son and I, and was an extra pair of hands for them when needed. Amara stayed until everyone was settled comfortably in bed, and all was well. She followed up with us by phone and came back to visit postpartum.

NOW I understand why women have doulas at their births, and if I have a third, will most definitely make that choice from the beginning. The peace of mind I had knowing how well I was taken care of was worth its weight in gold! I was comfortable, safe, secure, supported, encouraged, and loved – all of which allowed me to have the birth of which I dreamed. Amara has an amazing ability to blend into the background, yet be front-and-center right on cue. She adapts her care to all situations as needed without wavering her calm demeanor and gentle spirit. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude to Amara for sharing such a momentous occasion with us! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts! My birth team totally ROCKED!

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Yvonne’s Perspective (as a nurse):

My review of Amara comes not as a client, but as a nurse. I have been a labor & delivery nurse for 19 years and have worked with many doulas. However, after meeting Amara in 2008 and seeing her at work, I have a whole new perspective on the doula’s role. She has the ability to support the laboring woman and family while working WITH the care providers. Her calm presence, pleasant attitude and effective communication makes her a perfect bridge between birth family and birth provider. It has been my pleasure to work with Amara many times and witness her skills first hand. Words that come to mind– Amazing. Dedicated. She supports with touch, with word and sometimes simply with her presence. She has helped families realize their birth hopes. She understands that sometimes plans change. She is not judgmental. She is an advocate who has knowledge and passion. Her abilities and gifts are priceless! Any family who invites Amara to share in their birth will come away with a more positive experience. Thanks Amara for all you do.

Ashley’s BirthWorks Class Experience:

I highly recommend both the BirthWorks course and Amara as an instructor! My husband and I chose BirthWorks after much research and a desire to take a course that focused on natural birth as well as an involved and informed approach to birth. For some, the 8 weeks of classes may seem a bit excessive but it was perfect for us. Each class was highly informative and the format allowed us to truly comprehend the material as well as take our time, discuss what we learned, and ask any questions we may have had. Amara was an invaluable instructor: experienced, effective, and compassionate. I immediately felt at ease with her and trusted her advice. While my birth experience was far from what I had imagined it would be, I would have felt utterly unprepared and frightened if it weren’t for Amara (even without her presence at the birth!) and what she taught us. Because of her and this course, my husband and I were able to approach the necessary medical interventions with full knowledge, not only of what each intervention entailed, but also of the possible repercussions and complications. My surprising birth could have very well been something of a traumatic experience if not for the preparation and knowledge that Amara imparted to us. Even postpartum, I hold her in mind as a constant companion and asset to me in my journey as a new mother, knowing at any moment Amara is available for questions, answers, advice, and compassion. Though I did not have a doula at my first birth, my husband and I have already decided we’re reserving her services for the next, however many years away it will be! My personal journey of pregnancy, childbirth, and new motherhood has been forever and positively affected by Amara and the BirthWorks course and I will be forever grateful for this!

Laura’s Story:

I could not have asked for a more knowledgeable, experienced, or reliable doula. I knew from doing research that having a doula as part of your support system was the best way to go and my husband and I are so grateful that we chose Amara. We met her when I was only 13 weeks pregnant but she immediately put us at ease and impressed us with her calming nature. She had the perfect mixture of professionalism and warmth and was a great resource to have during pregnancy, labor, and after the birth of our child as well. Amara is well-read, experienced, and open-minded. She does not push her views onto the couple but instead presents options and information and follows her clients’ lead. She did a great job of providing my husband with ways to encourage me during delivery and share in the experience without making him feel like she was “taking over.” Amara has strong relationships with the midwives at DePaul allowing her to be an effective advocate for the couple, and to act as a go-between. Amara truly goes above and beyond the call of duty and we will definitely ask her to join us the next time we are pregnant! If you are thinking about getting a doula, choose Amara. We couldn’t have done it without her and now we have a beautiful boy and a great birth story.

Lance’s Story (A dad’s perspective):

When my wife and I found out we were pregnant (yes you have to start using that term regularly), we were new to anything doula or birth plan related.  My wife, Jennifer, suggested we hire a doula to assist us since it was our first child.  To tell you the truth, I was very apprehensive initially and was unsure of what this “outsider” was going to be able to offer that I was not going to be able to do.  Hold her hand, tell her she is doing well, give her ice chips…you know, the silly easy stuff.  Ha…well.

Jennifer’s water semi-broke at 2230 on a Wednesday night.  We went to the doctor’s the next day and they admitted us.  At this point we had met with Amara two or three times.  I was still a bit apprehensive, but Jen felt very comfortable around her and since she was the one getting ready to do all the work, I felt it best to make her feel comfortable and Amara made that happen.  After we arrived at the hospital, we had some bumps along the way in the hospital, and around 1930 on Thursday I called Amara and said that her services were needed.  Jen was getting upset, which can delay or stop labor, and I was not comfortable with her feeling that way.  Amara showed up soon thereafter and…ahhhh…things started to fall into place.  She was already very familiar with the staff at the hospital and ready for whatever Jen could dish.  

Come to find out, it isn’t all about ice chips, holding her hand, telling her she is doing good or all that ‘easy’ stuff.  Well, come 0200 in the morning, the moaning was of another world, the coffee almost completely depleted and my energy level spent.  Jen had been in labor for about 12 hours and still had many hours left and I was the one that was tired.  So, Amara suggested that I take a nap, she was already ready to go and obviously used to this.  Therefore, I napped for a few hours, woke up around 0500-0530, started the second round of coffee shots, and started to ‘try’ and help.  While I napped, Amara had Jennifer up and walking around, putting miles on the maternity ward floor and had Jennifer in the shower helping with the sounds, pain and discomfort she was in.  

When the full throws of labor came into play, Amara was the calming force in the room for Jennifer.  Although we had taken the birthing coach classes and I was the official coach, nothing substitutes the years of experience that Amara brought to the table.  Her calming way of keeping Jennifer focused was exactly what she needed to get through it all.  I was able to assist when and where Jennifer specifically asked me too, all the while Amara was just taking it in stride and knew what to do for her and when.  She never got in the way of our birthing plan or took away my role in the room.  She merely kept us both focused and ensured that Jennifer was as stress-free as possible.  I still was able to be there for Jennifer all the way (minus the nap) and assist.

Do yourself a favor, think about the services, decide whether having someone that has supported countless women in childbirth, will comfort the mother during her most vulnerable moments, help maintain the goals of your birth plan, act as a mediator between you and the hospital staff when questions arise, give the dad a break if needed and most importantly be a great friend during a wonderful time in your family’s life.  I suspect you won’t think too long about it and come to the same conclusion we did, and enjoy it every bit as much as us.

Amy’s Story:

I chose Amara as my doula for many reasons. She had attended close to 100 births with 4 children of her own! I knew she was experienced. In talking with her over the phone and in person, she was kind and caring. Thankfully, my pregnancy was easy. I felt confident in my ability to give birth without the help of medication. I have low blood pressure and an irregular heart beat (at times) and I knew that the less medication in my system, the better. Up until the week before I was due, I was confident that I read the right books, took a birthing class, and was giving birth at a birthing center. However, the week before I went into labor I started to get scared! I thought, there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this, I can see why people choose medication. I knew that me asking for medication, even though it wasn’t part of my birth plan, might be a reality.  I had intellectualized the birthing process and I was afraid of the potential pain. I called Amara, crying. She was very calm and reassuring.  I went into labor on a Saturday night.  Amara was my Sherpa mountain guide, my big sister, and Earth angel. Through her guidance, I never once considered deviating from my birth plan, although she would have supported any choice I made. The thought of medication never even came into my mind because I was so in the moment.
 I was on my knees and rested my head and arms in her lap during contractions. Is labor a picnic? No. Was it manageable? Yes. And Amara helped to give my husband and I comfort and security. I was in the moment and the breaks between the contractions provided relief. Amara helped me to have the birth experience that I wanted. I would recommend that every woman in labor have a doula and I would certainly recommend Amara! If we have another baby down the road, we will call on Amara again to be our mountain guide!

Margot’s Story:
I don’t know what we would have done without Amara. She was an integral part of my birthing experience. From pregnancy to postpartum she was a constant figure.  She was always there via phone, text, or e-mail to answer any of my many questions and was certainly there at 4 am when my water broke unexpectedly at 35 weeks. Because my water broke early, I was unable to birth at the Midwifery Center, which was my original birth plan. I was devastated by the news but Amara assured me that all would be fine in labor and delivery. She met my husband and I at the hospital just in time as I had to be induced and the contractions were coming on fast and hard. When Amara arrived, she brought a wave of calmness to the room and gave me the confidence I needed to know everything was going to be all right.  Even though my husband and I were not able to complete our birthing class due to our unexpected early arrival, Amara was there by our side talking us through the necessary steps of the birthing process. Having a preemie for your first birthing experience can be quite nerve racking and Amara stood right by our sides as the nurses whisked our child away and placed her in an incubator hooked to IVs, a heart monitor, and oxygen. Amara was our rock during this stressful time and I can’t thank her enough for helping us “keep it together.”  After the delivery, Amara called to check on us the following day and followed up with a phone call the day my child was discharged home. A week later she came to the home with the well-anticipated birth story. This alone is worth her services. I’m so glad we have that day for those precious hours documented forever. I loved my birth story and I can’t believe how much time and detail she puts into it. Amara truly makes the birthing experience special and I look forward to her services in the future, when that time comes. 😉

Heather’s Story:

I first met Amara when I was approximately 6 months pregnant.  I had had a previous birth experience that was very traumatic both physically and emotionally.  I had also lost two other babies in between my son and this newest pregnancy, leaving me with a large amount of anxiety.  I knew I needed to have someone in the hospital with me who would be there for me through the entire ordeal.  Someone who would talk to me, hold my hand, rub my back, hold my leg and do whatever else I needed to make this new experience a much better one, and dare I say it even a pleasant one.  It turned out that at 9 months pregnant my doctors decided it was medically necessary to have a cesarean especially with my birth history.  Although I would not have a traditional vaginal delivery Amara was still able to offer me support over the phone and in person helping quell my fears about the surgery and how my 4 year old might deal with everything.  Come the pre-op for the surgery she was there by my side talking to me, distracting me and helping me keep calm.  Unfortunately during the surgery she was not allowed into the operating room, which was very difficult.  But as soon as I was in recovery she was there in the recovery room, holding my hand, wiping any tears away, and acting as an advocate to the nurses for me as I was suffering from severe itching from the morphine.

I had set up a series of people to help me through the nights for the first few months after the surgery, Amara being one of them.  She was the one “on duty” the first night home from the hospital for which I was very grateful.  She stopped by the store on her way over bringing sandwich makings and set to making sure I was properly fed and hydrated within the first half hour of being there.  The site of her immediately calmed me and made me feel much more comfortable.  I knew I could rest my stitches and she would be my arms, legs, and shoulder.  I trusted her with my newborn implicitly.  Amara helped me out once a week for 2 months for 7 ½ hours overnight and I would not have changed a thing (except had her come more often if she could have).  I highly recommend Amara as a doula, be it for traditional or surgical deliveries and as a post-partum doula “sight for sore eyes” once you are home, tired, achy, and needing a friend.  I could not have done it without her.

Katherine’s Story:

Amara was a wonderful doula, and I’m really not sure I could have done it without her! She came to our home when I was in early labor to give me tips on positions to use, how my husband could help me, and ways to try to speed up the labor. She allowed my husband to get some needed rest while I labored, and was available by phone or e-mail when we needed her (but wasn’t in the way either, going back home when my labor stalled out for over 12 hours). We met her at the hospital and she coached me when I was pushing. I really needed it, as I was in “the zone” and didn’t hear a word the midwife or nurse said. Amara was a calm, steady presence, and was very knowledgeable and helpful to me and my husband. I’d definitely use her services again for another baby!

From my husband (who is much more eloquent than I am!): Amara Minnis is one of the most caring, compassionate individuals you could ever hope to have while journeying through this process. She is kind, soft-spoken, and extremely attentive to the mother and significant other as the pregnancy progresses to the labor and birthing process. Her assertiveness combined with her own experience as a mother position her as an ideal guide during the critical stages of labor and delivery. Amara is a conscientious listener, one who will remain carefully sensitive to the wishes of the birthing team. Of equal importance, she genuinely cares about the special role a doula plays and sincerely believes in the positive impacts on the partners and the baby. Her passion reflects in everything she does. For anyone seriously considering the prospect of a birthing doula to assist in this wonderful experience, I would provide my highest recommendation for her as she will provide you with an unparalleled, quality experience.

Genie’s Story:

I chose Amara as my doula because she made me feel calm when I was around her (she still does, years later!). I knew she would have the experience of what I was capable and would help me make informed decisions throughout the labor.  When I realized I was a “high risk” pregnancy (type 1 diabetes) but wanted an intervention-free labor, I knew I would need a doula to help me. My husband is very nervous about my safety and our baby’s so I knew he would be susceptible to hospital staff. And since I hate hospitals, I wanted someone there to help us stay in control and mellow.  My labor was 49 hours and Amara was a champ! She texted back and forth with me in the early hours while I was still roaming around doing errands. She came to the house when things picked up speed and she soldiered through the 26 hours we spent at the hospital before my beautiful son was born. I got the vaginal delivery I wanted, I knew what was going on the entire time and was in control and I felt safe always. I am convinced I would have had a c-section were it not for Amara!

I also appreciated that Amara took copious notes during the entire labor process. She also does a birth story afterward and it was one of the reasons I chose her! I’m a writer and it’s priceless for me to have accounts of everything going on. It’s something I hope my son will also appreciate one day.

I pushed for three hours before delivering and Amara was right there holding one leg (with my husband holding the other). At one point I wheezed out that I was running out of steam and Amara told me very firmly that I could do this and I was going to push this baby out because I was strong. It was EXACTLY what I needed when I was ready to give up and not long after my 8 lb 12oz boy entered the world!  

Sarah’s Story:

I have had the pleasure of having Amara as both my doula and my childbirth educator through BirthWorks. After my first consultation with Amara I knew that I wanted her to be with us for the birth of our first child. I had also found out that she was going to be teaching a BirthWorks childbirth class in training to become BirthWorks certified. My husband and I immediately signed up for her class. My experience in her class was a great one. She was very informative and made me feel ready for the whole birth experience. What I found most helpful from the class were the birth videos that she showed at the end of each class, the extensive discussion of labor (we had one specific class dedicated to labor and delivery, but we also talked about it during almost every class), the empowering quotes that she wrote on the board before every class, discussion of comfort measures and tools for labor (such as the rice sock and birth ball which were used consistently during my labor), and lastly the people in the class. I met several great couples and have been able to keep in touch with them throughout the first few weeks of my baby’s life. It has been very helpful to have other new mothers to talk to. The class was such a great experience for my husband and I, and I couldn’t have felt more prepared for my labor. 

As I mentioned before, we also asked Amara to be our doula. She was incredibly helpful and I’m so glad that we asked her to join us. I had back labor and she helped relieve some of the pain by providing counter pressure. She stayed with me the whole time. We went walking together and she even allowed my husband to rest some while she stayed with me. During the pushing stage of my labor I was especially grateful to have Amara there because she kept encouraging me by reminding me that the pain was temporary and it was all for my little girl. She has a very soothing voice and is a very patient person. Those are two things that I needed throughout my whole labor and delivery. The very last thing that she does for her clients is write a birth story. My birth story was so beautifully written and very detailed. I sent it out to my family and everyone loved it. The birth of our first child, Mary Grace, is the biggest and best thing that has happened to us so far and we are so thankful that Amara was able to document it for us. We will always remember everything that happened thanks to the services that Amara provides.

Asha’s Story:

483244_523254237726037_1952255996_nAmara was our doula for the birth of both of our daughters. In 2009, I contacted her because I was transferring my care at around 30 weeks from a free-standing birth center in San Diego to the Midwifery Center at Depaul in Norfolk. In the short time we had to get to know each other, Amara answered all of our questions and truly helped us become more prepared for our first birth. While I felt very much ready for my first delivery, Amara really guided us through the difficult parts of that labor. Both my husband and I felt afterward that she really made our first daughter’s birth possible – that without her it would have been a completely different, and much less lovely, experience.

The first person I contacted when we found out we were pregnant with our second daughter was Amara. My husband had to be deployed for seven months of my pregnancy, and in many ways, Amara sort of stood in for him by supporting me completely throughout the pregnancy. I contacted her more times than I can count, and she was always receptive and encouraging. I also took her BirthWorks class during that pregnancy, and in comparison to the class I had taken during my first pregnancy from a doula at the free-standing birth center in San Diego, Amara’s class was more thorough and seemed to approach birth and the female body in a more organic way than most birth classes. Plus, Amara makes it fun. 🙂

I could write paragraph after paragraph about Amara – about how she helped me deal with my insecurities with both of my births, about how without her knowledge combined with her presence there, I would probably still be questioning myself. Amara has more empathy and respect for emotions than anyone I have ever met, and I feel so lucky that her amazing presence has been an integral part of my childbearing – and delivering -experiences. 

Katy’s BirthWorks Class Experience:

My experience in Amara’s BirthWorks class far exceeded my expectations. As a first time pregnant mommy, I did not know what to expect walking into the class. Of course, I had been reading the normal first time pregnancy books, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy”, and more. The books provided me with a good foundation but were lacking in a ton of areas. Amara and BirthWorks built my confidence and made me realize having a baby was a natural thing and not something to fear. I now feel empowered and informed in the birthing process. I am looking forward to meeting our baby girl, Madelyn Rose.

Amara is a passionate teacher and doula. She brought with her real life stories and supplemental information to each class. If we asked a question she did not know the answer to she found out and provided resources. It was a safe place for us to discuss what we were feeling and to share our beliefs about bringing a baby into the world. Some of the areas we focused on were feelings, making healthy choices, choosing the right caregiver for you and your family, stages of labor, comfortable positions during all labor phases, breastfeeding, and much more. Husbands were encouraged to participate in the class and in the end I know Roger enjoyed his time there. It gave us time to be together and opened the door up to more discussions about what we wanted for our birth experience and parenting. I highly recommend Amara’s BirthWorks class to all pregnant women out there. We could not be happier with our decision to take the class and can’t wait for our big day.

Jacqueline’s Story:

I was so excited to find out that I was pregnant in March of 2011! I had always dreamed of being a mom and could not wait to get pregnant. My husband and I were filled with joy! It was a bittersweet time in my life as my mother was slowly losing her battle with breast cancer. I found out I was pregnant on a Sunday and went straight to my parents’ house to tell her. She was lying in a bed that my dad had made for her in the living room, where she was most of the time. I leaned over her and said, “Mom, I’m pregnant!” Her face lit up and she grabbed my hands exclaiming, “What a gift from God, Jacqueline! What a gift!” I saw more life in her face at that moment than I had seen in quite some time. Two weeks later, she passed away.

Now a month into my first pregnancy I was faced with the scary reality that I wasn’t going to have my mom to help guide me through. She had delivered me at home with two midwives while “Ave Maria” played on the radio. She was the archetypal mother in my eyes. I knew I wanted to “try” to give birth naturally, as my mother had done with me, but really didn’t know much about it.  I went to a doctor that my friends had recommended at a very mainstream office. I was shuffled in and shuffled out, it felt. There was no magic and something deep inside me knew that there could be more to this. I ached for the love and support of other women. I wanted to feel like my pregnancy was viewed as a miracle to the people involved in my delivery too, and not just another birth. A friend of mine recommended the DePaul Midwifery Center. It was there that I had that warm and fuzzy feeling that had been missing all along. I found the magic.

I started learning about natural childbirth and the experience that I could get out of owning my birth. Knowing that I wouldn’t have my mother, I kept envisioning giving birth and there being this huge hole where she would have been, encouraging me through her own experience and loving me through mine. That was when I knew I needed a doula. One of the amazing midwives recommended Amara. At our first meeting I knew that she was the right person with the right energy to stand in that hole and help me through. My husband was a wonderful support and strength for me, but there is something about having a woman there to wipe your brow who knows what you’re feeling. Once connecting with Amara, she opened my eyes to a whole new world of information and possibilities. Through her lending library, my husband and I were able to watch several dvds that gave us a clearer understanding of natural childbirth and helped me take a lot of the fear out of it. Here were women who were not screaming bloody murder like on TV but instead being empowered by their own strength and ability to embrace the miracle of giving life. Amara was there from the moment we met to answer any questions that I had or to direct me to the proper sources.

On November 13th, 2011 my water broke. I was eleven days from my due date. Twelve hours later I had still not begun having contractions and was advised by the midwives to allow Pitocin to be used to help my body along. At first I was reluctant and very sad because that was not part of my birth plan. Amara was wonderful, asking the questions that I may not have thought of to be sure I understood how and why things were moving in a different direction. When my husband and I were sure that for my baby’s safety it was necessary, she jumped on board and told me that I could do it. I was very heart set on not having an epidural and was afraid that Pitocin meant an epidural was coming. But she reminded me that I could get through anything.

At 9:00am we decided it was time for Amara to join us. My husband and I were so relieved when she arrived. She brought with her a sense of confidence, support, positivity, and excitement. She made several suggestions to help me find positions that might help my body progress while also allowing me to follow my body and intuition. The most helpful thing she did for me was remind me when the contractions felt like they were never going to end to “get to the peak and it will pass.” She reminded me that the pain I was feeling was my body’s way of helping Lilah get into the proper position for birth. Amara reminded me of the purpose of this time, which enabled me to embrace the contractions and ride them out without any pain medications. On November 14th, 2011 at 12:14pm our daughter, Lilah Ann Coulborn, was born. She was a very healthy 5lbs. 7oz. and 19 1/2 inches long.

Giving birth is an extremely personal experience. For me, I know my mother was with me in spirit and my husband would not leave my side. But the added support of a doula like Amara could not be replaced. She made both my husband and me feel at ease and we would definitely recommend her services to anyone! Thank you, Amara.

Mike’s Story (A dad’s perspective):

We could not have had the two beautiful, natural childbirth experiences we wanted without Amara.  After the first wonderful childbirth experience with her, without question, we wanted Amara to be with us for our second child’s birth as well.  Amara’s calming presence, trustworthiness, and kind spirit allow her to be an amazing doula.  Beyond her wonderful personality (that you will lean on heavily during a natural childbirth), Amara should be hired for three key reasons.  First, she has an incredible professional depth of knowledge to draw upon when you need it.  Second, Amara is networked with other like-minded professionals who can help you before and after the baby comes.  Finally, her doula services are an amazing value for the money. 

–Extensive Knowledge: Amara’s intelligence and education shined during our interactions with her. Not only does Amara have 175+ births under her belt, she is also extensively qualified and well-read.  Amara’s expertise is a lost art–something you just can’t find on the Internet or by reading a book or two.  In many ways, Amara is like a big sister, a mother, and a trusted friend all rolled into one while still being a fiduciary professional throughout.  Before our first birth, Amara helped us study childbirth positions and calming techniques, reconnect as a couple, craft a birthplan, and become much more educated about the natural childbirth experience.  Two and 1/2 years later, Amara helped my pregnant wife turn our son from a posterior to anterior position, decreasing the pushing time from over 2 hours with our first to about 10 minutes with the second.  Amara also gave great advice on how to cope with a toddler and an infant and pointed us towards additional resources.  She also followed through after our second came to make sure we were doing well and implementing the best practices she described.  Yet it was after our first that Amara’s knowledge and network were incredibly valuable.  After our first child was born, Amara helped my wife learn to breastfeed (after a tough, extended emergency room experience two days after the birth) and put us in touch with an outstanding lactation consultant. 

–Networked: Putting us in touch with the right lactation consultant is one example of Amara’s connectivity to the natural childbirth community.  She is well-known and well-respected at the Midwifery Center at DePaul–rightfully so; without Amara we would have gone to the hospital much earlier than we needed to the first time and would not have had the correct sense of urgency with the second.  If you encounter any problems at all before, during, or after your birthing experience, Amara will be there for you.  If she can’t give you the help you need directly, she will put you in touch with the right people to get the help you need.  Just like any great family doctor has a contact list of trusted specialists, Amara has a contact list of trusted professionals to help her clients deal with personalized issues before and after their children are born.  If you hire her, you will be impressed with her resourcefulness.  

–Value: Amara’s resourcefulness is one of many reasons that Amara’s services are a great value.  Before I met Amara, I felt apprehensive about spending the money to hire her… we had just moved, purchased an old home, and were losing my spouse’s income.  Looking back on our journey with Amara, I can’t believe she only charges what she does.  With our first, my wife’s contractions began late at night.  When Amara arrived early in the morning, she was absolutely incredible.  She timed contractions, comforted my wife, and helped me move her upstairs in and out of the shower.  Without Amara, I am not sure if I would have been able to finish packing our bags (they were 90% packed, but timing contractions and comforting my wife was MUCH harder than class made it sound), take care of the dog, call the midwives, and get meals ready.  Everything Amara did helped.  Her calm presence and birthing expertise put both my wife and I at ease.  The story is similar for our second, except we called Amara late in the evening and she stayed with us through the middle of the night and into the morning.  She provided support so we could ensure our daughter made it to her friend’s house safely before active labor began.  Both times, when we left for the hospital, she helped my wife into the midwifery center, set up, and comfort her during the toughest times of labor.  Amara knew what to say, when to say it, and HOW to say it.  Plus, she documented our children’s first moments with our birthing stories, which we treasure.  Amara is worth her weight in gold!

Beyond her relaxing presence and kind personality, Amara’s work as a doula is simply outstanding because of her extensive knowledge, networked connections, and tremendous value.  She’s an incredible professional who I’ve been glad to have on our team two times now and maybe a third!