7 reasons why you have a Doula.
A review by:
Johanna M.
San Francisco, CA 7/25/2011
I whole-heartedly recommend Jessica Catano, of Peaceful Journeys, as a doula. I just had my second son three weeks ago (7/5/2011) and Jessica was an amazing fairy godmother lighting the way through the wonderfully difficult, magical and intense process of giving birth. I would recommend her hands down to anyone searching for a doula and who wants a wonderful birth experience.
Context: First, I want to point out that I didn't have a doula with my first son, and though I had a super birth team of caring friends and family, my first experience was basically a protracted nightmare of pain and drugs because no one on my team had the training or experience to assist a woman through the challenges of labor. It's not intuitive! I chose to have a hospital birth both times, and unless you have a midwife (so I hear) you can't expect to be coached or attended to sufficiently by labor and delivery nurses, let alone doctors.
So here's what's so great about Jessica:
1.) Jessica will spend time with you and your family learning about your hopes and concerns. She will help you formulate a birth plan based on your personal values and desires. Very important to me, and I think unique in the world of doulas, Jessica doesn't impose her own ideas onto her clients. She is very respectful. She also has a lot of information and experience which I found to be a great educational resource, even though I had already gone through the birthing process once before.
2.) She's a great masseuse and body worker. She is familiar with a lot of different techniques and can shepherd a woman through the stages of pregnancy, helping to ease the body's way up to the big day.
3.) Jessica's main business is as a masseuse and her work as a doula is really for the love of it. Therefore, she never over-books. Other doulas I interviewed had contingency plans in case two clients went into labor at the same time. I never had this worry with Jessica. I had a great sense of security.
4.) Because Jessica took the time to get to know my family, everyone was comfortable with her presence. She also added a sense of calm and security for everyone. When she arrived, she was totally organized, brought food, drinks and props (aids for the laboring process) as well as her cheerful and positive personality.
5.) Getting down to brass tacks, throughout my labor, beginning with  uncomfortable contractions, which led to painful contractions, which eventually turned into excruciatingly painful contractions (there is no way around it sisters), Jessica had techniques for manipulating my pelvis, uterus and back that mitigated my pain, and my FEAR of the pain. No nurses, doctors, classes or friends had ever suggested these moves or techniques with my first son, and I can't stress enough how much Jessica's hands-on guidance was critical to my comfort and the relatively quick, and drug-free, delivery of my second son.
6.) Because my delivery was drug-free and quick, the strain on my body and soul, and on the baby was much less traumatic than with my first son. Ok, so everyone knows it's easier the second time around, but I give a lot of credit to Jessica because she actually speeded the decent of the baby by putting me in the right positions as I labored and dilated. Even accounting for the second-baby-is-easier phenomena, I know without her it would have taken much more time and been much more painful. I tore less, my milk came in stronger and faster, the baby was more alert and had a better latch, I healed more quickly and felt much better both directly after birth and as the days have progressed.
7.) Finally, Jessica's rates are very reasonable while the value she delivers is priceless. I urge every pregnant woman who doesn't have a midwife to get a doula, and Jessica is an angel of skill, dependability, love and compassion for whom the job is truly a labor of love
Lindsey O.
Oakland, CA
There is no doubt in my mind that the birth of my daughter would not have been as wonderful had it not been for Jessica. 
Being a doula is truly her calling! My husband and I are so grateful that we found her.  In my third trimester, I asked my OB/GYN for a doula recommendation and she sent me to Jessica. 
Upon meeting her, I immediately knew I wanted her to assist me and my husband with bringing our daughter into the world.  She is incredibly knowledgeable about the body and birthing process, and has a warm energy that we were drawn to.
I was lucky enough to be massaged 2 times before our birth (a part of her services), and what a treat that was! 
Jessica has an intuitive touch and really got into my muscles, which was so needed. She also took the time to connect with my baby, and was able to tell me what body parts where where in my belly!
Jessica also took the time to get to know my husband and I by coming over to the house a few times. 
The questions she asked us about our wants for our daughter's birth not only helped her with information, but helped lead us into thinking about our wants/hopes/fears. I was really fearful of having a short labor and not making it to the hospital in time (family history), and she warmly and gently helped me get over those feelings with information and understanding.
From the moment I called her when my water broke to after our baby girl was born, Jessica was irreplaceable. 
She helped guide me through every contraction (after she helped me get them started after my water broke by taking leisurely walks with my husband) and made me comfortable as I labored at home. Her touch and massage are incredible.
She aided me and my husband not only physically with a lot of counter pressure on my hips, but also brought beautiful readings, essential oils, and visual aides to help me relax and stay focused. 
Once we were at the hospital I labored for another 12 hours. Jessica was present every step of the way, giving my husband the confidence and instruction to help me work through contractions, and also massaging me and helping with pressure points and counter pressure. 
She also brought music, which was so helpful! She kept me hydrated and calm.  I know without a doubt that I could not have achieved an unmedicated birth without her!
I can't say enough wonderful things about Jessica. 
I'm so thankful she came into our lives! I would recommend her to anyone and everyone, and look forward to having her as my doula for future babies! We love her!