Previous Birth Stories

lucasTo my Dear Doula Debra:
Words are not enough to convey my gratitude for your help, along with my husband, Alex, in the amazing birth of our son, Lucas, on Saturday, November 1, 2008. A medication-free, natural childbirth has been the most rewarding experience of my life. You were there for me with knowledge, patience, respect, and love.

At 38 yrs. old, 19 yrs. of marriage, and an infertility diagnosis, we were Blessed. The evening I discovered my pregnancy, I was truly afraid. Pain, epidurals, hospitals, long needles, and doctors raced through my mind like a movie. I was terrified. I knew I needed support. Prenatal Plus – Yoga showed up during one of my Google searches and I went to my first prenatal yoga class. I discovered by listening to your teachings, that my thought process was plagued with misinformation and was misguided! After a soul searching (& doctor searching) week, I made the conscious decision to have the healthiest possible birth for my son & to be an active participant in all of the decision making process from prenatal care to labor & birth. I stopped working at 38 weeks. I wanted to enjoy my last days pregnant and relax. I wanted labor to start on its own. I avoided internal examinations at all cost. My doctor was not happy about it, but it was my decision. I prepared a birth plan and reviewed it with him. No internals, no pitocin, no epidurals, no episiotomy. My entire time was a yoga posture (down facing dog and back stretches), warm baths, some walking, and sleep. I was huge. My loving baby was kicking and pushing inside of me. I felt great. Alex stayed with me at home the entire time helping me.

At 11:00 pm on Halloween night, I started to have a contraction pattern. I called you, (Debra) at 1:00 a.m. and at 3:00 a.m., after timing the contractions at 6-8 minutes apart, we headed to Mercy Hospital. On the way, the streets in Coconut Grove were closed and EVERYBODY was in costume. When I arrived to the Labor floor with Debra, I was 4cm dilated. My doctor and nurse wanted me to stay at the hospital strapped to the fetal monitor – but OHHHH NOOOOO!! No way on earth I was going to stay there. I was fine, the baby was fine. I wanted breakfast. I signed out, released myself. My husband, Debra, and I went to Denny’s in Coral Gables (contractions and all). I had a plate of pancakes, coffee and toast! (During breakfast, my Doula and I were totally relaxed. Customers and the waiter thought that my big belly was a Halloween costume! My poor Alex was terrified the entire time!!) After breakfast at 6 a.m., I didn’t want to go home b/c I live about 45 minutes from Mercy Hospital. Debra and I took a ride to the studio to notify the prenatal yoga students (computer e-mail) that I was in labor (Saturday is class day) and she was with me. We then went back to Coconut Grove, where I reserved a hotel room at the CG Hampton Inn. In the hotel room, I ate again (of course!), took a bath, and stayed there with Debra from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. when my contractions began to come faster and feel stronger. The doctor called at 11:30 to ask where I was and I explained all was fine, just waiting for a stronger pattern of labor and taking a nap. Debra and I drove to Mercy Hospital around 2:00 pm. The nurse performed an internal and I was 6 cm dilated. As expected, she strapped me to the fetal monitor and IVs, but I wanted to move around as much as possible. So, I did my yoga squats with Debra rubbing my back, drinking water, going to the bathroom for approximately 4 hours. I transitioned for birth/delivery at 4:30 p.m. when I was 9.5 cm dilated and had the first bloody show. The nurse was unable to determine the baby’s stage because I my amniotic sac was intact still at this point. The doctor came into the room and broke the amniotic sac. Debra showed me how to birth breathe/push. The doctor performed an episiotomy against my wishes with the pretext of “medically necessary” which I doubt. However, Lucas was born shortly thereafter at 5:10 p.m. – a healthy, beautiful boy weighing 8.4lbs. My husband and I were so happy!! It was like a dream come true. –

A word for “mothers-to-be,” during my last two hours of labor, I was a leaf blown by the breeze on a sunny afternoon. Don’t be afraid, your body & your baby knows what to do and when to do it. Birth with Love and Patience, Birth from the Heart!!

With love & gratitude, Alex, Lucas, and Julia


On Monday, February 4th, 2008 at 3:21 and 3:22 respectively, Emma Isabella 5 lbs, 13 oz, 19′ and Connor Nelson 6 lbs, 6 oz, 19 1/2′ arrived safely into the world and have given their daddy and I sooooo much joy ever since!! Everything is great, I will definitely stay in touch and look forward to coming back to Mommy & Me classes soon. I am so glad that I was able to enjoy prenatal yoga classes – as they were very enjoyable and taught me so much, being together with you and the moms-to-be. Thank you. I’ve attached a picture of Emma in yellow and Connor in white at 5 days old.
Sheila Brasnett

I knew that for my first birth I wanted a doula, someone who had been there many times before and could help guide me and comfort me, as well as help my husband stay calm and “be” with me. Debra was both calming and strong at the same time. It was also nice to know that she was so well acquainted with my doctor and the hospital. There is no way to describe giving birth until you do it. Mine was natural childbirth and there were points when I really didn’t think I could go further and do it, yet everyone around me remained so encouraging. Well I did it, and the miracle of our baby was well worth the effort. Our postpartum doula visit was also nice; with food (important!) and some sweet gifts. I would definitely recommend a doula to others. Thank you Debra…

Baby Lucas Born 4/19/07 at 10:02 pm.

Wanted to take this opportunity to thank you again for supporting me during my pregnancy & labor and making this an unforgettable experience; I truly believe that this was the way it should be. I really learned a lot from you during those months of my pregnancy, joining your yoga classes. You know I had a great experience already with Sean in Switzerland, in the 5 star hotel hospital with piano bar and candle light dinner etc., being there for a week to rest etc.. however, I learned that you don’t need all this to make labor a wonderful experience with all its discomfort. It takes great support!! The people that support you before and especially during this period are what makes it special. So, thank you so much Debra. This was more than I ever expected!!

Baby Ian Lucas Kurath: born April 25, 2007; 10:52 am…

Hi Debra,
I wanted to let you know that Colin arrived on Monday morning 6-13-05 at 9:16am weighing 6.5lbs, 191/2 inches. Colin came 11 days early. After being sent home on early Monday morning at 2am because I was not in active labor I went home & labored til I was complete. I arrived at the hospital at 8:15 am that same morning 100% effaced, 10cm dilated & baby at +1 station! The triage nurses couldn’t believe it & I was rushed into the delivery room. Actually I was shocked too(I was expecting to get an epidural & have more hours of laboring. However, I had to pant to fight pushing. Luckily my doc. was already there & I delivered in 20minutes w/a series of 3 contractions. I cannot believe I did this completely unmedicated!!! no pain relief whatsoever!!I wanted to thank you Debra because taking your class gave me the confidence, focus & knowledge to accept the pain & work through it w/the breath & different positions & techniques (hot shower & back acupressure highly recommended). My husband gave me a mantra that I used w/deep breathing of “riding each contraction like a wave”. Now I wish I had taken that hypnobirthing class. I would recommend that & a doula for all moms especially those attempting unmedicated births(I was fortunate enough to have a great support partner in my husband. I had a great nurse & doctor who were so proud of me & who were really, really supportive & positive. They gave me so many positive affirmations & it helped me get through my fear of delivery & push Colin out. My recovery was great(I ate through my labor & right after delivery–everything is functioning well & I was able to walk right away. You were right Debra, all women have the power & strength to give birth naturally–if they want to. Colin’s alertness & health were high. We were able to bond right away. Thanks so much for everything & give all the ladies my best wishes. Victoria 🙂
Victoria Orrego Dunleavy, Ph.D.

Hi Debra,
I’m writing to share my birth story with you and the Saturday Prenatal Yoga class. It was a beautiful birth and once again yoga helped me through my labor. On January 17th I was out to lunch with my mother and felt some mild cramping and knew it was the beginning. We finished our lunch and strolled around the mall. I got home around 2:30 and took a nap to rest up for a big evening. At 4:00 I called my husband at work and asked him to pick up our daughter from school and head home. I busied myself with housework while still only experiencing some random cramping. At 7:00 we ate dinner, and at 8 pm I was giving my daughter bath. I explained to her that after she went to bed mommy was going to have the baby and when she woke up she would have a baby brother. My contractions started getting stronger and more consistent during her bath so I had my husband take over for bedtime stories. I was now in active labor and spent my time on the birth ball watching TV, walking around the house, and doing yoga. I told my husband to go to bed because I was laboring fine by myself and wanted him awake for transition. I woke him up at 11 pm so that he could apply counter-pressure for some of the back labor I was experiencing. By 11:30 the contractions were 5 minutes apart so we loaded up the car and at midnight were headed out the door to the birth center. Greeted with hugs and kisses and the incredible news that I was 7 1/2 cm dilated!! I was elated. The midwives set up my room by filling the birth tub, lighting candles, and putting on some Bob Marley. I continued laboring on the ball and in the tub and I found it very manageable as long as I took my deep breaths to baby.

At 1:30 am I asked for an internal, but my midwife Shari looked at me and said I was about 9 cm and that she would check me soon. At 2 am I had a strong contraction and let out a grunt. I had been laboring silently up to this point. Shari said, “that’s the one” and confirmed it with an internal. I was 10 cm. She broke my water and helped me into the tub. With my husband in the water with me supporting me from behind and three midwives at the edge of the tub, my baby was delivered in 15 minutes. He was big at 8 lbs and 5 ozs,, it was quick and there was no tearing. I got out of the tub to birth the placenta and my husband stayed in the water with our son. The midwives help me deliver the placenta and cleaned me up, my husband brought over Owen and he latched onto my breast. The three of us slept on the bed together for about 3 hours. At 6 am the newborn exam was done and by 7am we were home. The birth was everything I wanted it to be!!

My hope is that by sharing my story I can motivate at least one woman to consider a birth outside of a hospital. I find it tragic that hospital births are considered the norm and birth centers are considered alternative.

Every woman has the strength to birth a baby naturally if they would only trust their inner voice. See you in six weeks for Mommy & Me class…

Love to all, Stephanie –
new mom to Owen Masten Anders