"I thought it'd be nice to have the extra support of a doula but as a first-time birthing person I didn't really know what to expect. Now looking back on my birth story, I am so incredibly grateful I found and hired Kathy and the team at LifeTree Birth Care.
For my labor, Kathy tuned keenly into my needs in the moment. She calmed me down through contractions using a variety of different techniques. Her voice was soothing and confident and helped me move through labor and waves more effectively. She helped me stay focused on my body and my needs in moments when it would have been very easy to get wrapped up in the things happening around me (hospital shift changes, new doctors, IVs and other machinery being hooked up to my body).
I could talk at length about every last detail of Kathy's support and care, but the most touching detail for me was Kathy's diligent note taking. After the labor, Kathy compiled a story of the birth including details about every major decision we made throughout my labor. I will cherish these notes forever, and hope someday my son will be interested in reading his birth story. I would happily hire Kathy again and again."
- Proud new mama, Hanover NH
"Kathy was our back up doula and we could not be happier with her support. The change came in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and while we had met Kathy once in person, she was so reassuring and supportive as she stepped into primary role for us. I was 9 days late and Kathy was checked in at just the right times, offering the simplest advice that meant so much.
During our labor, Kathy provided so much both at our house and at the birth center. She offered hands on work while I was having pain with contractions, she provided releases with a rebozo scarf, she gave words of support and visualization when I was distracted by pain, she had essential oils for use later in labor, and she was extremely supportive for my husband throughout as well giving him advice, trading off hands on support, reminding him to eat, and so much more. Most importantly, Kathy gave us space and reminded my husband and I of the intimacy of this time which meant so much to us.
After 12 hours, we did transfer to the hospital and Kathy was unable to stay with us there, but before she left she offered the hospital staff key information in my progression of labor thus far. Finally after our labor and delivery, she followed up with a printed version of her notes with time points which was so amazing to review and piece together my labor afterwards with more detail than I had in the moment.
We highly recommend Kathy's services and had a wonderful experience working with her."
"We went in knowing absolutely nothing about the pregnancy and birth process, and finished the class feeling fully prepared for the delivery and postpartum process. Mary Etna is extremely generous with her time and knowledge and we felt comfortable asking her any of our thousand questions, all of which she was ready to answer with insight from personal work experience and a deep understanding of existing research. The EBB course kept us engaged with the video assignments, but the in-person class was the real value, providing a sense of community and combined purpose in what has become a distant, virtual learning environment due to COVID in most other aspects of human interaction. It felt like Mary Etna was sitting in our living room talking to us, and we cannot recommend her course highly enough."
~Stacy and Hans
"We had such a great time taking this class and we cannot thank Mary Etna enough! I looked and looked for a childbirth class that felt like it fit with our values and this one really was it! We are so thankful for this class, especially during covid, and we were so happy to have our weekly class and assignments as a way to prepare together for the arrival of our baby. We learned a lot of new and helpful information and we both also felt that the class helped us feel more positive and ready for the birthing experience. I feel so much more confident with our birth plan and post-partum plan because of this class. "
-Colleen and Will
"We were absolutely thrilled to have Kathy as our doula. Kathy is a calming and wise presence in the labor and delivery room. She has a lot of experience working at DHMC and she gets along wonderfully with the nurses and midwives there. I really felt that they were all on the same team, which helped Kathy to navigate us through the birth process. One can tell that Kathy is a lifelong learner. She has put a lot of effort into learning about the body mechanics of pregnancy and birth. This was my second pregnancy and labor. With my first, I experienced 22 hours of back labor, which I was desperate not to experience again. Kathy used her knowledge to guide me on how to prepare myself for childbirth so that I would hopefully avoid back labor. During labor, when my contractions started to go to my back, Kathy had techniques that would alleviate the back labor. The relief was so instantaneous, it was like magic! Kathy also has many strategies for natural pain management, my favorite being the metal birth combs. During labor, she was always right there, present, responsive to what I needed, and guiding my husband to help me. She even brings honey (from her own bees!!) to provide energy during labor! After our son was born, she stayed with us to help us process what happened and make sure we were settled, which we liked as she didn't just run off, but helped us process the amazing event that just occured. With Kathy, we were able to have a truly wonderful birth experience. "
-Caitlin and Alex
"The first story I read to my baby Skyler is his birth story that Kathy sent to us shortly after Skyler’s birth. I felt very fortunate that I decided to work with Kathy and had the two prenatal meetings as soon as I managed to. It turned out that the day after our second prenatal meeting, Skyler was born prematurely. I had a confident and somewhat comfortable labor thanks to all the educational and emotional support I received from Kathy. It is as if we have rehearsed everything, to the degree that when labor started, I knew what I was supposed to do at every turning moment. When I had contraction pain, I knew how to breathe and how to swing my body; when I felt I wanted to poop I knew it was the pushing time; when I pushed I knew I did not have to limit myself in the conventional position but had the freedom to find the most comfortable position to me – which was on my four; and immediately after I delivered Skyler, I had a warm date juice drink that my husband and I prepared as a treat for me, being inspired by our prenatal meetings with Kathy. Although Kathy could not attend my birth physically due to COVID, she was available on phone throughout the process. She called many time to check in, and whenever I called her, she was always available. We did not have family around because of COVID, but we had Kathy and we felt very secure. It is as if we went for a game and Kathy was the coach. We started from knowing nothing but eventually outperformed because of Kathy’s excellent coaching.
Shortly after we were discharged from the hospital, we were hit by a major sewer problem in our house. We could only use minimal water in the worst heat wave of the year and sewer companies did not return our calls for the day. It was a weekend and we were pessimistic that no one would come until Monday. I was tired, hormonal and overwhelmed, and so I reached out to Kathy for emotional support. She went out of her way to stress repeatedly that the environment is not safe for new mom and newborn, and then reached out to her friends and families to find emergency housing for us. Encouraged by her, we also reached out to all the resources we could think of, instead of just waiting for Monday, and eventually got things fixed the next day. The support was of course not part of our contract. But she would be there for us from prenatal to postpartum whenever we were in need.
Days after our last postpartum wrap-up meeting, we received Skyler’s birth story through mail. When I read it to our baby, details of my labor day reemerged in my mind and I only had fond memory of them. We cannot thank Kathy more for all that she did for us. Skyler’s birth story and Kathy’s card now stay next to his framed ultrasound images, and we cannot wait to show Skyler his path from the womb to the world when he can understand our words."
"We hired Kathy for the labor and delivery of our first son, and her companionship was invaluable. I didn't know precisely beforehand exactly what she would be doing - but now, I can't imagine the experience without her. I had a long, enduring induction, and Kathy's expertise in various techniques such as Spinning Babies and other tools eased the many chapters and transitions of my labor. She played a very active role, and seemed to always know how to help at just the right times. She is personable, sets you at ease in a difficult and can-be-scary time of your life, and, most importantly, values you, your decisions, and your knowledge. I was most impressed by Kathy's ability to make sure I felt in control, that I knew what interventions were happening and why, and that I didn't feel like things were being done to me but rather stepped in with a word or question to me to make sure I wasn't overwhelmed at overwhelming times.
I thoroughly recommend Kathy. Hiring a doula took a bit of convincing for my husband, but she is exactly what we both needed. "
"Kathy is an amazing, thoughtful, present, kind doula!!!
Erin and I had been living overseas for 10 years so going back to America to have a baby in an unfamiliar medical system was scary to us. We wanted to have someone with us that would help navigate the medical system to enable us to make decision that were best for our situation. Kathy was very accommodating during our initial calls and instantly made us feel confident that we had made the right decision in hiring her to be our support. Our follow up meetings enabled us to get to know each other better and for Kathy to start to teach us some skills. Kathy was up to date on the most recent “tools” such as spinning babies’ and hypnobabies which we were able to practice with her even before the birth.
Kathy was always patient with us and really took the time to tailor our sessions to fit our needs- and even connected us to her network to find us birthing classes and parenting lessons. During the delivery Kathy worked tirelessly with me (the partner) to go through every single tool in her toolbox to provide comfort to Erin. It was an incredible experience with Kathy and as prepared as I thought I was for Erin’s labor; I was so grateful to have someone with me to try different positions at just the right time.
Kathy helped take the pressure off the unknown and helped keep me focused and energetic, she gave me the confidence to be more involved! I was even able to catch our son and cut the cord! Without Kathy, I don’t think I would have had the courage to do so.
Kathy added her special “touch” to our experience bringing essential oils, snacks and even honey from her own bees! Her kindness, love and warmth made Kathy an incredibly selfless person who made our experience extra special. I’m so happy that Kathy was there to share our experience with us and I can’t imagine it without her!"
"Preparing for our first birth, we knew requesting Kathy to be our doula was going to be one of the best decisions we could make. From the moment we met, Kathy impressed us with her listening skills, knowledge, and compassion. Her sense of humor was delightful and her ability to advocate for our interests was critical. We had a challenging birth experience, but Kathy was with us, she exceeded our expectations for support, and together we successfully delivered our daughter. We highly recommend her to anyone looking for a dependable, caring friend during their pregnancy."
"Kathy was a calming and reassuring presence throughout our labor. We talked with Kathy by phone to learn more about her approach a few weeks before delivery - she shared helpful resources with us about preparing for labor, and clearly explained the role that she could play during the process. I had been skeptical about whether a doula might be helpful, but after talking with Kathy I knew that she could add immeasurably to our experience--and she did. Once labor had been induced, she showed me helpful positions, how to use the ball and peanut, provided relaxing massages to help reduce my anxiety, and was a calming presence in the room. My experience was so positive that I wrote to a friend in another state who was also close to delivery to encourage her to consider working with a doula. If my husband and I ever prepare to welcome another child, we will seek out Kathy's services again."
"We are forever grateful that we had Kathy as our doula during our birthing experience! It absolutely would have been much harder without her. From the first time we met her and throughout our birthing journey she was incredibly supportive, thoughtful, calming, skillful and informative. I was able to email her with questions when they came up, and she made sure to answer them thoroughly. She was also a huge support for my husband, allowing him to rest during my birthing as her focus was purely on me. I would highly recommend Kathy to anyone- she was amazing!!"
"We had a great initial meeting with Kathy where she laid out the relationship, provided informational documents , and answered all our questions. We felt very comfortable with Kathy from the start. Kathy surpassed our expectations during delivery and allowed us both to have the experiences we desired. Kathy is calm, observant, knowledgeable, caring and very thoughtful. She always made sure we knew what the doctors were saying and that we were comfortable with the direction things were going. She helped my Dad interact better with Mom and be the support that she needed.
Kathy was amazing and the we'd highly recommend her as our doula. "
-Jess and Evan
"My experience with Mary Etna was exactly what I had hoped for and much more! She is an incredibly smart, warm, caring individual who balances a wealth of knowledge and experience with a very profound tender presence about her (not as easy balance to strike). This was one of the main reasons I wanted to work with her. She gave me all the information I wanted and more, providing lots of resources and education both through her childbirth classes and via emails or phone calls about various topics. She was clear, thorough, impeccably professional and easy to work with. I felt very prepared for birth thanks to her educational approach.Working with Mary Etna during the birthing process made everything easier and supported the experience my husband and I had together. She thought of all the little things (a dim light for the bathroom when I was having contractions in the shower) and remained so calm and supportive throughout. She was masterful in her ability to both support and help without becoming a focal point, and to slip in and help when and where it was most needed.
She facilitated so much more than a birth. For me, this was my first child and there was a lot of learning, growing and transforming that needed to happen. She was there to help guide that process as she remained neutral and supportive, instinctively and intuitively offering guidance along the way. I can't recommend her enough and wouldn't hesitate to use her again in the future. "
"From our first meeting, Mary Etna put me and my husband at ease. Her kind, confident, and peaceful demeanor was instantly something we knew we wanted to have present for our first birthing experience.
She did an amazing job listening to both of our needs, concerns, and desires throughout our in-home birthing classes and later during our birth plan meetings. She was able to connect with my very nervous husband and made him feel comfortable and confident in his own abilities as a birth partner and helped me to verbalize the kind of birthing experience I was looking for.
Our labor came on strong and fast in the middle of the night- so fast that while I was in transition, Mary Etna was coaching my breathing and helping me stay focused over the phone as she rushed to get to us. She got to the delivery room just as I was ready to start pushing and the calm that came with her was tangible. She brought such a peacefulness to me and my husband and helped me return to my breathing and focus again and again.
Not only did Mary Etna help me feel prepared, strong, and empowered throughout this process, she did the same for my husband. Her ability to listen to his worries and assure him that she was there as a support gave him confidence to get past his anxieties and he became a wonderful and confident birth partner.
My daughter's birth was such an amazing experience from start to finish, and I know much of that had to do with how empowered and at ease Mary Etna made me and my husband feel about the entire process."
"My husband and I were unsure if we wanted a doula at first. This being our first child, we had this thought that we wanted to be fully "in it" together -- for my husband to be the "head coach" and for me to be the "MVP" of this birthing experience. What we didn't realize, and what became clear after meeting Jessica and Mary Etna, is that we were gearing up for him to be the head coach of a sport he'd never seen, and for me to be the MVP of a sport I'd never played! Working with Jessica and Mary Etna allowed us to get the skills and training we needed for us to be fully "in it" together in a more effective and productive way. Through the prenatal visit, they gave us the tools we needed to successfully manage early labor at home before getting to the hospital. We used every trick they taught us, including breathing techniques, counter-pressure and positioning. It meant that we could stay at home much longer than we probably would have which was the most comfortable part of our labor experience. Jessica met us at our birthing center and was a crucial support person throughout my active labor and pushing. She helped calm me down when my breathing became frantic, reminding me to "let go" of contractions as they passed and helped coach my husband so he could be a more effective partner and support as well. I can't imagine the birth experience without their role. I wish every woman in the world could work with doulas as thoughtful, sensitive, supportive and knowledgeable as Jessica and Mary Etna."
" We chose Mary Etna as our doula because of her calm nature and her medical and science background. She was such an asset to us before the birth, at the birth, and after. At our prenatal visits, she brought a wealth of information that helped me feel more prepared about the choices I would have to make in the hospital. We had several conversations with Mary Etna prior to the birth related to a scare partway through my pregnancy as well as the induction that the doctors ended up doing at term. When it came time for the birth, Mary Etna was present and available whenever we wanted her by our side. She ended up staying with us in the hospital for practically a day until our new baby girl was born. I can't imagine my birth without having Mary Etna there. She was such a comfort to me - bringing things like a hot pillow or getting cool rags when I felt nauseous. I'm sure my partner would've thought to do some of these things and would've certainly done them had I asked, but Mary Etna was doing them before I even thought of it. This allowed my partner and I to really glide through the birthing process. She was so knowledgeable along the way and a great comfort to my partner who could really be present for the birth and by my side. At the end she had the honor of holding the mirror so I could see as my baby girl was born into this world. I'm so glad we chose to have a doula. We don't have any family in the area, and it was so wonderful to have her to count on with the added bonus that she had unbiased support and was a pillar of strength."
"Doula Mary Etna was so wonderful! She really knew what she was doing. She was calm and encouraging and saw us through a long sleepless labor with tireless compassion. It is really important to have someone you know right there with you to help through one of the most rewarding, yet bewildering, experiences of your life."
"My husband and I agreed to use a doula in my second pregnancy after experiencing a somewhat traumatic first birth (28 hours in labor, medical interventions at the end). I wanted to avoid feeling like procedures were being “done to me” in labor, rather than having a voice in the medical management, while my husband recognized that he could use additional support from someone with more experience in childbirth. Mary Etna fulfilled both of these wishes, and more, in her work with us leading up to and during my labor. She was extremely calm, warm, knowledgeable and professional, and we felt much more prepared to enter the hospital this second time around after our two prenatal meetings. We both loved the fact that she was able to provide us with evidence-based information about the pros and cons of different medical interventions, so we could think through informed choices ahead of time. The type of information we got from her complemented information received during regular prenatal appointments with a midwife. At the end of my pregnancy, the emotional support Mary Etna provided by phone and email when I was 3 days overdue was immensely encouraging, and helped me to wait it out and let the baby arrive when he was ready. In the end, my labor was very short (5 hours), very intense, but generally very peaceful! My son had an unmedicated birth, and I felt incredibly empowered during and after the process, largely because of the preparation we had all done beforehand. My husband remarked in retrospect that he would have liked to have had Mary Etna be involved in our first birth too! We would both highly recommend Mary Etna to anyone contemplating hiring a doula."
"My husband and I decided early on in our pregnancy that we would like to have a doula present at the birth of our daughter to provide both of us with the support necessary to deliver a healthy baby. Mary Etna provided exactly that. During our prenatal visits she took the time to understand both my husband and my personalities, our individual concerns and our goals and hopes. By the time labor started and we were headed to the center both my husband and I were calm. We were excited and looking forward to the work ahead before welcoming our daughter. Mary's presence during my labor was subtle. She guided me when needed but she primarily created the space for my husband to comfort and aid me. She gave both of us confidence. During transition and the final stages of labor her support was invaluable. Our progression to that point developed a trust in her coaching that was crucial in the end stages. Looking back on our experience now I feel I had the best team present at our daughters birth. We were lucky. Looking forward you can't always plan who delivers your baby but you can plan for who is by your side through the whole labor encouraging you and reminding you that your body can do it. I would ask Mary Etna again for her support at our next child's birth and would highly recommend her to others."
"I originally found Mary Etna online during a Google search. This was my third and last baby and I really wanted to try a natural childbirth this time around and the thought of having a doula, I really felt like I could accomplish that goal. My husband and I met Mary Etna at a park in Blacksburg to discuss details and even though we lived in Roanoke she met with us at our home to practice breathing and laboring positions. We chose to deliver at NRV hospital and Mary Etna met us there when it was time to have my baby. I honestly don't think I could've achieved a natural childbirth without her. She was such a big help and followed my body's natural rhythms with each contraction. She even bought me snacks just in case I forgot to bring mine (which I did forget). She coached me through the whole thing and after a few hours I thought I wanted to throw in the towel and get an epidural during the transition phase but she reassured me and again gave me the confidence that I needed right at that moment. A few minutes later my beautiful 8lbs 2oz daughter, Annabelle Gracelyn was born! I did it! I had my natural childbirth and not only was I proud of myself but my Marine husband was proud of me too! The look in his eyes was priceless. Having my husband there was wonderful and he was very helpful but having a doula with you that really knows what she's doing is a real treat. I highly recommend her to everyone and if you don't know much about doulas please give her a call because she's very educated on everything you need to know about the subject."
"Mary Etna has a calming presence that helped me immensely throughout my labor. She was quiet when I needed silence and she was there to support me vocally when I couldn't speak. She was great at making suggestions to help me get through the pain without making me feel what I "should" or "should not" do. She helped me feel informed to make the best choices, but didn't push me in any way. Overall, having her there to support me was amazing. I am so thankful she was at my birth. I could not have gotten through it without her!"
"I had an absolutely positive experience with Mary Etna. She is incredibly knowledgeable about everything childbirth and postpartum related. I felt confident in making decisions at the hospital because I was well informed from my discussions with her, as well as the resources and articles she referred me to.
She is extremely kind and patient and stayed with me throughout the duration of my very long labor. She knew when I needed her but never got in the way. She was also helpful to my husband by guiding him through the process in addition to me.
I loved our birth classes -- I learned a tremendous amount and I was well informed going into labor because of the classes. And she was very helpful during the postpartum visit and sent me articles for further information on my questions.
I highly recommend her to anyone searching for a doula, and I wouldn't hesitate to use her again.
Thank you for a positive birth experience! "