What mothers and Fathers are saying
I started using DreamBirth in my fifth month of pregnancy. I had never heard of it, but I had done some shamanic journeying work before and was intrigued by the idea of using imagery to cope with my fears and anxieties about pregnancy and labor. I also liked the idea of learning a skill I would be able to use later, in situations beyond the delivery room—whether in boardrooms, pediatrician’s offices, or during tense encounters of any kind.
I met with my wonderful doula, Claudia Rosenhouse-Raiken, each week, and while she was doing craniosacral work on me, we’d go through a series of DreamBirth exercises and meditations that would put me in an alpha or sometimes even theta wave state. I became intensely relaxed and could feel my cells being directed by my higher self to let go of all desire to control the process, and allow the greatest good to come about. A lot of the DreamBirth work we did involved helping support my body and the baby’s body on a cellular level, and I was guided to “put things in light” whenever possible—to literally picture either being bathed in white light from above, or sometimes drinking “sunlight oil”—which encouraged me to imagine my body growing soft and flexible to allow the baby to emerge. I used the idea of “bathing people in light” a great deal toward the later stages in my pregnancy, when I would have to be monitored more closely for fluid checks or other tests that sometimes felt rushed and invasive. Whether I was getting blood drawn or getting strapped to a table, I’d imagine the practitioners and all their various instruments bathed in white light.
During some visits with Claudia, we’d go down and “visit” my baby, which honestly felt kind of silly at first, but then became a fun and playful exercise that added some humor and levity to the whole idea of pregnancy, which I feel can sometimes become SO rigorously tracked and monitored that it loses a sense of casual joy and curiosity. The idea of “visiting the baby” also came in handy during my third trimester, when my doctor began checking the baby’s position. We used DreamBirth to visualize the baby in perfect, head-down position, and would imagine the amniotic fluid as a golden light around the baby. Of course I was happy that my baby ended up being head down and ready to go.
When I didn’t go into labor right on my due date, I went into a bit of a panic. I think that even though I knew it was “normal” for first-time moms to be late, I was maybe a bit overconfident in how smoothly my pregnancy had gone overall. Also, I really didn’t want to be late, and of course what you resist can seem to come to you in droves. Anyway, as I was approaching being one week overdue, my doctors scheduled an induction for me, and was determined to beat it. I wanted to go into labor on my own, and asked Claudia for some good DreamBirth exercises to help bring on labor. She recommended the Rainbow Ring exercise, in which you imagine your cervix filled with rainbow light, spinning and opening. I practiced that one exercise religiously in the days before going into labor. I feel it helped immensely, and by the time I actually went into labor, I was overjoyed and practically begging for the pain. Which certainly arrived! Anyway, 36 hours later I delivered my baby girl, and I credit Claudia and her way of teaching DreamBirth with helping me embrace the entire experience.
Claudia Raiken is an amazingly talented doula, and I wholeheartedly recommend her to you. Without Claudia, I doubt very much I would have been able to have the natural childbirth I so fervently wanted.
A little about me: I'm a health conscious 35 year old lawyer who had a hard time achieving pregnancy. Once (finally!) pregnant, I read up on childbirth options, and knew I wanted an intervention-free birth. I dislike needles, and the whole epidural ordeal scared me. I wasn't exactly looking forward to birth 'pains,' (or 'surges' as I found they are called in the natural childbirth books) but natural seemed like the way to go for me. My OB warned me that I would have very fast labor (it ended up just under 7 hours) and so I wanted to be prepared.
I hired a doula because I wanted a motherly figure with me at the birth to help mitigate the scary, clinical aspects of giving birth at Roosevelt/ St. Luke's Hospital. I connected with Claudia immediately upon meeting her: she is warm, kind, motherly, and had a calming effect on me. I met with Claudia once a week for cranio-sacral sessions, during which we worked on DreamBirth imagery to help with the various changes pregnancy brings. Claudia helped me cope with whatever was happening that week--minor aches and pains, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, emotional, etc. It was great for me to have her attentive, caring ear for an hour a week. I had an amazingly 'easy' pregnancy, gained very little weight, and had none of side effects people complain about. I give Claudia a lot of the credit for this, as she kept me happy and relaxed. Claudia has the most amazing touch (and I have had my share of massages and acupuncture treatments). I hope it doesn't sound silly, but Claudia has a powerful, healing touch.
When I went into labor, Claudia met me and my husband at the hospital. Our nurse said I could only have ONE person in the triage room. It was an easy choice. I ADORE my husband, but chose to keep Claudia in the room, as she was helping me so much. When Claudia touched my low back, she eased my pain. When the nurse (or, I am loathe to admit, my husband) touched my back, it hurt more. As I labored, Claudia did cranio-sacral work, and we did the imagery we had practiced. After what seemed like forever but was only 3 hours, I was stalled at 3 centimeters. Claudia looked into my eyes, and told me, "Marty, you are fighting the pain, you need to relax into the contraction and dilate." Claudia then held my hand and helped me figure out how to dilate. Claudia told me, when the next contraction comes, recall the image of the vast, blue pool of water in the forest (which was an image we used many times where I would dive in the pond, relaxing, dissolving, and feel my body stretch larger, as you become the water).
Claudia held my hand as the contraction hit, and in my mind I dove into the imagined pool, becoming water, and I went to that primal place I needed to be to birth our baby. Sound far-out? Perhaps. But you know what? It worked.
When the OB checked me an hour later, I was already 8 centimeters! At this moment, the waters finally broke and there was meconium, a sign that the baby was in distress. The OB had to manually dilate me, and was told to push the baby out RIGHT NOW, or have a C-Section. I pushed the baby out in 3 pushes, which I believe I would NEVER have been able to do with an epidural (which makes it harder to find the muscles you need to push). Our baby was OK, thankfully, and has thrived from the moment he was born. And yes, the nurse allowed my husband back into the room for most of the birth process!
When I reflect on my baby's birth, I am so grateful that Claudia knew me well enough to know how to help. Claudia was clearheaded and very calm in my moment of terrible pain and panic. I will always be grateful to Claudia.
I truly believe that had Claudia not helped me dilate, I would have opted for an epidural and would have ended up with a C-Section. Going into childbirth, I was as committed as a first time mother can be to natural childbirth, and yet when the labor pains grew intense, I wavered. I recommend to any woman desiring natural childbirth (or a low intervention childbirth) have doula there to look after her.
I think the key to being a great doula is helping each mother have the birth she wants to have. Claudia has a truly special talent for figuring out how to help each individual mother; she is no one size fits all doula! She has attended over 200 births and has a wealth of experience to draw upon. These days, there are a lot of people working as doulas who don't have nearly that wealth of experience. I could go on and on about how great Claudia is, but for sake of brevity I will stop here. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions. I LOVE Claudia and am sure you will, too.
When I had a dream that I would be pregnant, I knew I wanted to have a homebirth where I would feel safe and familiar with the surroundings.
I met Catherine Shainberg in Germany. She taught me Imagination of the Kabbalah. When I got pregnant, she recommended that I work with the Doula Claudia, who was an expert in DreamBirth Imagery.
If I did not have the wonderful support of my doula Claudia, I would not have experienced these powerful Dream Birth exercises and in the end this wonderful home birth of our daughter. The work gave me so much confidence and self-trust in my own body and strength. Via Skype Claudia taught me the Dream Birth Exercises and was engaged in the Birth Process from NYC to Munich in Germany. All the exercises helped me a lot to dive into the birth process in an easy way and to overcome the pain during the contractions.
I had a natural birth that lasted around24hours with a very well experienced midwife. Sara Joy was born at home, everything was fine but there was a challenge at the end waiting for me, the placenta did not come out. My mid-wife told me we would have to go the hospital. This was the last thing that I wanted; to go to a hospital and be separated from my child. So I asked how much time we had. “We only have 20 min”, she told me. “Otherwise if the placenta does not come, we have to go immediately to the hospital.” My first thought was no, that is impossible. We had almost reached the goal of having a wonderful home birth, the baby was fine and now I should separate from my baby? I called Claudia, told her the facts. She told me that there was one exercise to release the placenta, that she had never used before, but that we could try it. “Let me check, I call you back in 5 minutes.” Exactly 5 min. later she called, and went through the exercise with me. My midwife meanwhile was sitting in the living room and waiting. I called her and told her that I was ready to try it again. Immediately the placenta went out easily.
I will never forget the words of my midwife: “that really convinced me. Now I know the imagery works!”
So with Dream Birth we get our natural power back and we develop such a strong bonding to our child, which is amazing. Thank you so much Claudia!
In the winter of 2012, I was introduced to Dream Birth through a friend who had used them for her natural childbirth. I wasn't pregnant. I had gone through two failed rounds of in-vitro fertilization and two surgeries to attempt to prepare my uterus for implantation. The real reason I wanted a doula was because I figured if she could coach my friend through an entire birth she could help me calm my angst. In fact, just weeks before meeting my doula, Claudia, I had been taken by ambulance to the hospital with a heart tachycardia. I felt like my body was failing me.
I met with Claudia and soon began to learn, through visualization and breathing, to slow down my system. She talked me through listening to what my body was telling me it needed, and helped me tell my body what I needed from her. We psychologically went inside and took a good look around. For the first time in my life I was communicating with my body and really tuning in to what I was feeling. It was terrifying and liberating at the same time.
In January of 2013, I began a 3rd round of IVF and used the visualizations to cope with the physical and emotional stress. I believe using the Dream Birth exercises and meeting with Claudia regularly was the key to helping my body become host to a perfect little embryo. I discovered a lot of emotional junk had built up in me over the years. My mother had died in 2008 and, although we were close my entire life, we were not on great terms when she passed away; I think somehow I couldn’t let go of something associated with that guilt. Claudia and I worked together for the entire duration of my pregnancy. She helped me find that place in me where my mother always lived and loved me, and I felt the support I needed from those around me, live and dead. My husband became involved and learned techniques that helped calm both of us as the birth day neared. I always knew I would have to have a c-section, and I knew that I needed and wanted the support of Claudia to guide us through the weeks leading up to the surgery. Just days before the birth my doctor informed me that she may have to remove my uterus. Claudia guided my husband and me through emotional and powerful visualizations to attempt to will my body to not need such drastic measures but to prepare my body for massive surgery and, most importantly, we learned to communicate with our child and let it know that no matter what happened it would be safe and protected. Those last few days and hours with Claudia brought me solace and peace knowing that whatever happened I could handle it and my baby and I would be okay. Claudia met us at the hospital the morning of the birth and gently guided me until they wheeled me into the operating room. I was able to continue my visualization exercises while I was without her. It so happened that I got to keep my uterus. And, on my mother's birthday, I gave birth to a perfect baby girl.
DreamBirth Imagery helped me tremendously the second time I was pregnant. Labor and delivery were difficult the first time around, when I had an emergency Cesarean. With DreamBirth's help I was able to overcome my anxieties around laboring and delivering again. The imagery helped me stay calm, positive and focused even during the most difficult and painful moments. I had a successful VBAC, and I'm now seeing Claudia again with my third pregnancy, so that I can get all the benefits of DreamBirth. It's amazing how the imagery helps you harness the power of your own mind in a very positive, intangible and extremely effective way. DreamBirth imagery *really* works.
Here is a photo for the DreamBirth project: we are on the floor, on the rug, talking, getting to know each other, among the flowers of the garden which is the rug on the floor which is also the garden you took us to--me to--many many times before Isaac was born. In all of the infant observation work I am doing now, I know how important simply the looking is, the way we look at each other, the way we exchange gazes, mothers, babies; this is how the crucial attachment is formed…I feel that the looking within we did was a way for us to establish our ability to see each other fully when at last we saw each other. That image work was opening the neural pathways for a profound and healthy attachment.
First we see as in a mirror, and then we see......This is from the bIble, something I remember from another-other life (Corinthians in the New Testament)!:
…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
I first used the DreamBirth imagery when I was pregnant with my son five years ago on the recommendation of a close friend who had used it for her birth. For four months prior to the birth, I practiced the imagery on a daily basis but was still skeptical that seeing images in my head would help me during the birth. I became a believer when, after a 32 hour induction, we were able to use imagery to turn my sunny-side up baby and have an uncomplicated vaginal delivery much to the shock and dismay of my doctor who strongly pushed for a c-section because she did not think that I could deliver vaginally. When I became pregnant again four years later, I knew I wanted to use the DreamBirth imagery again and I started practicing right away but I could never picture my baby when I did the imagery. I had a natural miscarraige at 12 weeks and it was through practicing the DreamBirth imagery that I was able to heal and connect with my un-concieved baby. When I visualized my uterus I kept seeing a cherry blossom branch and we couldnt figure out what that meant, but after a year of infertility, I got pregnant in the spring - at the time that cherry blossoms were in full bloom. I continued to practice the DreamBirth imagery throughout that pregnancy and I was able to visualize, connect and talk to my unborn baby. When my daughter was born this past winter, I instantly felt like we knew each other on a deeply spiritual level and she looked exactly like the little girl I saw in my imagery.
My experience of pregnancy and birth with Claudia and dreambirth... The best word I can describe it with is magical. I think back on the labor and birth and it really was like remembering some kind of amazing night out on lsd or something. All my senses were heightened. I labored up on my roof garden and the nature was amplified. The warm summer breeze and the fairy lights were beautiful. I don't recall any pain. And I came from a place of inherited beliefs about expecting the worst case scenario and that motherhood was going to be a negative experience. There were two imagery exercises which became metaphors for the whole experience, and which I used over and over. One was the secret garden, which worked for me personally because gardens are sanctuaries for me, and I had been building one on our roof that summer so it was poignant to labor in it in reality. The other was That of floating down a brook out into the sea. I felt that Claudia and the imagery work carried me through the experience from beginning to end with no resistance as if floating with a current in water. I felt safe and supported and no fear. I felt as if something much bigger than me was at work, and I was being guided safely all the way. I very much felt also that I could trust my body to do what it would easily without my needing to control it or freak out about it. That said, all of the different exercises helped me into that zone, and Claudia was a vital part of that process. Doing the work with her was by far the most powerful practice. I also listened to recordings, as I found guided exercises was most effective for me. I credit the fact that we did this work that the whole thing went so smoothly. It was the last thing I expected after hearing all the war stories from other people. I also did research about how to avoid the interventions that are so routinely used and all the things I could do to alleviate those risks, I educated myself and practiced what I could prior to the birth and during. But the most important thing was creating a safe zone in my mind with imagery to be able to meditate and stay calm. It opened me up enough to let things take their natural course.
And so now we have Magnus. He's a delightful baby. He is happy and secure and extremely easy. He rarely cries, and is fearless and friendly to everyone. It's funny because we often say how we don't know how he ended up so chilled out because both his parents are somewhat tightly wound, but we do know... The work I did impacted him directly. He is calm because I was calm throughout pregnancy, and now into parenthood. I'm a very chilled out and relaxed and fully present mom, despite my usual neuroses, and he totally senses that.
Claudia came to me when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child. I had just switched to a midwife, and knew I wanted a doula . Using an online Doula list for New York City, the first woman I called was booked and referred me to Claudia. She got right to work on preparing me for my first birth. Imagery was amazing and made me feel connected to my son and much more prepared for the unknowns of labor. We practiced the Secret Garden and others which were calming and even enlightening. I was due October 1st, and having Claudia at my side on September 27th, while I labored at home, was immeasurably helpful. This woman had helped many a birthing woman and it was comforting to have someone present just for me. I had felt certain I would not want anyone touching me even for a massage while in labor, but Claudia knew the right places on my back to relieve some of the pain.
My hospital was in the city and we had to cross the East River to get there – apparently 11:30pm is the shift change for Midtown Tunnel and we were a few cars back. When we realized this process was not a quick one, Claudia and my husband yelled over to the attendants, “A woman in labor here!” When they heard that – seemingly dozens of people surrounded our car asking if we needed EMTs, an ambulance of our own, while scanning the other waiting cars for an available doctor. “No thanks, we just need to get through the tunnel.” Thankfully, everyone parted, and we zoomed away.
Even though I was doubled over in contractions, when the admitting nurses heard my water had not broken, they looked with skeptical eyes. My husband and I were quite happy to hear I was nine centimeters dilated. Four hours and 26 minutes of pushing later, our sweet and strong son was born. I had gotten my key outfor the secret garden in between some of the contractions, and pictured all the people whom I ever loved and loved me right there in the room cheering me on. For my second birth, I called Claudia right away and we really had the full 10 months to work together. The blue vase, practice on the secret garden, and working through any emotional issues or fears I was facing helped me more than she could know.
This time through the tunnel we had our EZPass and sped without delay. Manhattan streets are teeming with people at six-thirty in the evening, however, and I’m sure hundreds of people were wondering what I was doing on all fours in the back seat with my howling face inches from backseat side window. Labor has a way of making a woman not care what other people think. Upon arrival, the nurse greeted me with a welcoming smile - and I was at already 10 centimeters. Twenty –six minutes later I met my light-filled daughter.
I have used the imagery Claudia taught since both births –and it has really changed my life. I had always known top athletes used imagery, but did not really know how to use it myself. I use it for big projects and small encounters – I picture meeting people with our Highest Selves. When I have any pains or body issues, I call on angels to physically work them out.
Tonight, driving home from buying groceries, I realized I could use all the imagery from my pregnancies for major projects. Why not have everyone I have ever loved in the room with me during a job or grad school interview? Thank you, Claudia, for teaching me so much.
Choosing Claudia to participate in the birth of our daughter was one of the best decisions I have ever made. She helped me in so ·many ways that I am afraid I will be unable to truly convey how wonderful she and how deeply grateful I am to her. I can only offer the strongest of recommendations for Claudia and the work she does because our experience was very positive, therapeutic, and resulted in the healthy, intervention-free birth of our daughter. Claudia has so much to offer and is so caring and professional that I am confident in her ability to contribute to others' birth experiences as well.
My husband and I decided to hire Claudia during the 7th month of our pregnancy and we immediately felt we had found the right person to join our team in getting this new baby into the world. Claudia's experience, sense of humor and ability to listen and understand our concerns and wishes about this birth all convinced us that she would be a very calming and positive influence. I began meeting with Claudia on a weekly basis for bodywork and I met with her a total of eight times before the birth. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with Claudia and found the Alexander techniques she performed to be very relaxing and helpful with some of the lower back discomfort I had toward the end of my pregnancy. I must admit, though, to actually finding my discussions with Claudia about the upcoming birth to be the most therapeutic. We spent a lot of time talking about my anxieties about the birth and she gave me a number of imagery exercises to use on a daily basis that helped me connect with my baby and visualize a calm, healthy birth. I found these exercises to be extremely beneficial to me and I am confident I never would have had the stamina and optimism necessary to get through such a long labor without giving up unless I had already practiced all that imagery with Claudia! While I was in labor I felt very close to my baby, like we were going through it together, and I could imagine her safe and okay in there even though it was a very painful experience. I am not a terribly optimistic person by nature so I know Claudia helped me significantly with this and the result was a very positive mindset during labor. I never once felt like giving up or panicked when that stupid fetal heart rate monitor slipped out of position or had the batteries die because I truly felt calm and that the baby was just fine.
A few weeks before our due date Claudia also met with my husband and I so we could go over our "game plan" for the birth. This was great since my husband hadn't met with Claudia since we hired her several months prior and it was nice for the three of us to sit down and go over our expectations and preferences about all the possible ways this birth could turn out. Our goal was to have as natural a birth as possible, but to let things evolve as labor progresses and do whatever was necessary to have a healthy birth. Honestly, I wasn't really sure I would want an epidural or not and I didn't want to get my heart set on a purely natural birth if it wasn't really the best option anyway. Claudia was fine with this and I was reassured by her confidence in both her ability to help me labor comfortably and my ability to handle the contractions.
In the end, we had a wonderful birth experience and Claudia was with us during the contractions and endless pushing and I felt safe knowing she and my husband were there for me the whole time. I can't say that my labor was easy, because it was very long and I had a lot of vomiting after the contractions, but due to the help and support from Claudia and my husband I was able to get through 33 hours of labor and 3 ½ hours of pushing and delivered a healthy baby girl (6 lbs, 10 oz) without an epidural, pain medication or an episiotomy. During labor, Claudia was fabulous. She massaged my back, legs, arms and used aromatherapy and music to help me relax. She reassured and chatted mth my poor husband who was very stressed out and exhausted. She was friendly and cooperative with the nurses and staff and made sure they know what my wishes were. She encouraged me constantly and helped me focus on my breathing. She helped me change positions and would intuitively know how to help me relax my body, stay calm and focus my energy. Actually, much of my time in labor has now become a blur of a memory. While in labor I was very internally focused and concentrating so hard on my breathing and contractions, but I clearly remember Claudia's serene voice in my ear, her warm, comforting hands on my lower back, the invigorating smell of peppermint during transition and her pure joy when our little baby decided to finally untangle herself from her umbilical cord and join us for her first gulp of city air!!
I am still amazed I was able to give birth without an epidural and that I endured all those contractions (some of my friends think I was nuts, by the way!). I am also amazed that the hospital staff let me push for so long without suggesting a c-section. I know in my heart that both are a result of Claudia's skills and positive presence during my labor and birth. My dear husband who held my hand the entire time and the labor nurses were fabulous too, but having Claudia there made all the difference. Right after I had the baby, my husband said, "that was amazing!!" and I remember, in my exhausted, dazed from the pain mindset saying back to him "That's not exactly the word I would use to describe it!!" But, in retrospect I know he was right on. It was amazing ... yes, it was long, it was painful, but it was the most amazing experience ever. Fiona Jane is here in the world now and she had a healthy birth. We offer our sincerest gratitude and highest recommendation to Claudia. I hope she has the opportunity to grace many a birth with her gifts.
Prior to becoming a Dad for the 1st time, I had many preconceived ideas what it would be like, there were many fears, many expectations and much excitement. Having you on board to support Ainsley during her birthing process was absolutely fantastic. I think if I had to have gone through it as the sole support for Ainsley (a 29 hour labour) it would have been quite a different experience. You gave us all the opportunity to rest when the opportunity arose. Your selflessness to Ainsley and myself is not seen in many people and for that we are truly grateful. Thank you.
All the best for the future.
This was my second pregnancy and I wanted to have a VBAC, so my husband and l started looking early, in about my 12th week for a doula. We decided to work with Claudia as my doula as I immediately felt comfortable in her presence. When we first met she came to our apartment and talked to us in depth about her work and she also, gave me a CranioSacral session. I immediately responded to this hands-on approach. We had met two other doulas, but 1t was clear who we were to choose.
As we had hired Claudia early in my pregnancy I felt we really got to know each other, also as friends. We met regularly, at least every two weeks. We would spend part of the time exploring imagery exercises and we would then have a CranioSacral session. I would always look forward to our meetings. It was like a little holiday for myself throughout my pregnancy. I always came away feeling so much better about everything.
The imagery work is invaluable. I was able to work through blocks that I had from my previous experience, the caesarean and also just-generally to stay well and positive. Early in my pregnancy I was having pain from a hernia. Claudia-gave me a healing visualisation, and also with her hands on CranioSacral work, the pain went. About midway through the pregnancy, we also started doing some imagery and visualisations focussing on the position of the baby and the birth. In my first pregnancy my son had been in a posterior position causing a long and excruciating back labour. In this pregnancy, and I have no doubt that the imagery helped enormously, I had a correctly positioned baby who descended very quickly and perfectly.
The CranioSacral body work is wonderful. It was so great to have this throughout the pregnancy. This time around I had no swelling in my ankles, which I had suffered from in my first pregnancy, my hernia pain disappeared and my body was in general so much more comfortable, and I know it was due to Claudia's regular massages. I cannot recommend this highly enough. It is extremely powerful and helpful to have this touch during a pregnancy.
Claudia is a very supportive person. I felt I could tell her all my hopes and fears throughout the pregnancy, and it really helped to have her listen. Claudia has two lovely children herself, and this really helped her to understand where I was coming from in terms of fears of having a second child, and how the first one will cope and so on. We talked about all of this, and Claudia was always able to reassure me.
Claudia's calming presence was of course at its most valuable during my labour and birth. My husband told me afterwards that I noticeably relaxed the minute we met Claudia on arriving at the hospital. Claudia immediately started some hands on work to alleviate the pain which I was feeling in my back. Her hands and touch are amazing, just very soothing and helped so much with the pain. I remember she used a heat compress on my back as well which felt wonderful, and at one point she massaged my legs gently, which again was just the right touch at that time it relaxed me a lot. Claudia was great at helping me alleviate the pain, but also to deal with it. Her supportive presence was essential. My labour progressed very quickly, and again I am convinced that our imagery work helped in this regard. My baby and body just knew what to do, as we had rehearsed this positively many times. During difficult parts of the labour Claudia talked me through a couple of visualisations which we had rehearsed, and this really helped. We had done one with a garden, and one with water, these were both extremely powerful in helping me through the labour.
Wnen it came to the pushing part I started to lose confidence, and felt that I wouldn't be able to go on. Claudia was again there for me. She was right next to me reassuring me, encouraging me and also helping me to focus, and to get through it.
The result, a successful VBAC with no drugs of any kind, a completely natural birth. I couldn't have asked for anything more. My daughter had the very best entrance to the world I could possibly have given her.
As an additional proof to me of just how powerful the visualisation work was, the next day in the hospital one of the nurses wanted to check my daughter's blood sugar. She did this and in a very hospital protocol, unfriendly way informed me that if her blood sugar didn't rise to what she perceived as an acceptable level they would give her formula. So, I of course fed her again, but whilst doing so I drew in all my resources, and created a positive visualisation for myself with light flowing from me into my breast and through to my daughter. When the nurse checked her blood sugar again, she said it was just fine.
I would highly recommend Claudia as a doula. It was such a hugely positive experience working with her. She was such a great support to me and my family and she remains a firm friend.
Claudia Raiken taught me imagery that has been invaluable not only to my birthing experience, but also to my life. When Claudia told me she could assist my birth over the phone in lieu of being there in person I was skeptical. I had imagined my doula being by my side, with my husband on the other side, coaching me through a natural birth. Yet Claudia promised to prepare me with imagery exercises and to teach my husband ways to touch me throughout labor that would ease my pain. When I remembered why I had hired Claudia as my doula in the first place because she was the most calming presence over the phone of the 25 doulas I called my decision seemed obvious, and I agreed to have Claudia's help telephonically. After meeting every week for almost 3 months, I had learned several imagery exercises and practiced
them daily. I even found myself using them, namely on a subway that broke down between stops on a very hot and humid August day. I was in my 8th month of pregnancy. Rather than panic like the other
passengers, I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and went into my "garden," that place of utmost peace where Claudia had guided me with her soothing voice. And when I finally went into labor, I used imagery to help me through nearly 12 hours of contractions. I refused to take any drugs and I was able to have the birth experience I wanted using the imagery I had learned from Claudia.
When my mother was having some surgery last month, I asked Claudia to help her through the bperation and recovery processes. Claudia gave her the power of imagery in just a few phone sessions. My mother and I are both believers in the imagery and especially in Claudia. I will certainly be calling her if I decide to have another baby. She is so caring and generous with her time. Claudia went far beyond just being my doula, and I know I can count on her as a dear friend.
Our doctor recommended Claudia as a doula and we were immediately drawn to her by her warm and nurturing personality. From the first time I met her, I knew that Claudia was someone I would be very comfortable working with during the high emotions and
stress of labor. Since this was our first baby, there were a lot of unknowns about pregnancy, labor and delivery and it was such a relief just knowing that Claudia was there supporting us leading up to the delivery and would be there to guide us, advocate for us and comfort us during the big day.
I met with Claudia weekly for the last three months of pregnancy where she would answer my many questions, lead me in imagery exercises and would finish each session with some bodywork. During our weekly sessions I learned a number of ways to think about the labor and delivery and to embrace what my body would be doing instead of fearing the pain associated with it. I really think the mental preparation made a huge difference in my positive outlook on the delivery and how I actually managed the pain naturally. My husband also met with Claudia various time and she led him in supportive imagery and they discussed his questions about his role during the labor and delivery. These sessions were also very helpful to build their relationship as a support team so when I did go into labor, they had a level of familiarity and trust between them.
In addition to the weekly sessions, we relied on Claudia by phone for various pieces of advice and council as my due date approached. It was such an enormous relief to know we had an objective support person there with us throughout the whole process. Then when the contractions started, Claudia helped keep me calm by phone until it was time for her to come to our apartment and work together through the contractions. My labor came very quickly and after only a few hours of contractions at home, we left for the hospital. My husband and I were very nervous during this time but having Claudia there and knowing she could read my symptoms and tell us when we needed to head to the hospital was a huge relief we knew we were in good hands!
Claudia knew my labor would go quickly from what my doctor had told me and she was an incredible advocate for me to be checked and admitted right away when the nurses in triage told me to 'have a seat'. When I finally got into a delivery room and was checked, I was already 10cms dilated but was told 'not to push' because the doctor was still on her way. At that point, Claudia turned to me and in her calm voice said 'honey you just push if you want to push.' So off I went ...
Claudia helped talk through imagery as I pushed and after only 20 minutes and no drugs, out came our beautiful baby boy. It was all such an incredibly perfect situation and while it was difficult physically, being surrounded by such positive energy, love and support between my husband and Claudia made it so much easier .Our first baby entered the world exactly as we had hoped and there is no greater gift for new parents than this!
Claudia Raiken was our birthing doula for the arrival of our first child in March 2006. We cannot recommend Claudia enough. Claudia is a warm and perceptive woman who was a comfort and a glowing source of positive energy during our son's birth.
Although my labor and delivery did not resemble my plans for a "natural" un-medicated birth, it was Claudia's guidance that allowed it to be an exhilarating and empowering experience nonetheless. Despite my Caesarean delivery, my husband and I do not feel as though we missed out on the birthing process, and this is because of Claudia's invaluable advice to hold off on the epidural when we learned that I was about to be induced.
With all of our planning, our biggest concern, of course, was the health of our child; when our doctor (a strong proponent of un-medicated births) told us induction was necessary, we knew it was the best for our baby. I have to admit, though, that the minute we heard the "p" word (i.e. pitocin), we were ready to order the epidural to avoid what we had heard would be insurmountably painful contractions. Over the phone, Claudia said that I could handle the early contractions and that by the time they were hard to manage, she would be at the hospital.
Just as Claudia had said, the early contractions were manageable. And as promised, she arrived at the same time the contractions began to intensify. The moment she put her hands on my lower back, I felt relief. Her power of touch is truly unbelievable.
In the weeks leading up to the birth, Claudia and I had met to practice visualization and for her to administer Craniosacral therapy. Those sessions were crucial to the success of my laboring because once we were in the hospital Claudia and I had an established language and shorthand. Claudia used her hands and voice to help me stay focused, while also giving my husband and me space to work together.
I went from 2cm to almost 7cm before needing an epidural. Claudia was very supportive of my decision and, of course knowledgeable about the circumstances that accompany the administration of an epidural. In fact, when the baby's heart rate dropped and the room was flooded with medical personnel, Claudia was very reassuring and explained that the situation was not uncommon. She calmly helped me to adjust my position so that the baby was again receiving enough oxygen.
Based on my lack of progression and the fact that the baby was in a bad position for vaginal delivery, the doctor recommended surgery. At that point I knew we had done everything that we could and was grateful simply to have had the chance to labor without meds for at least a short time.
After the delivery, Claudia came to the hospital for healing sessions. I have heard some women complain about the length of recovery after a c-section, but I felt great within 10 days - exhaustion from nightly feedings notwithstanding. I-have had no lasting ill effects from the surgery, and am as physically active as I was before my pregnancy.
People have asked whether it was worth having a doula, since I had a c-section. My husband and I always answer with a resounding "We don't know how we would have done it without Claudia!"