Birth Coverage

Better Birth Conference 2019

WNY Doulas is a collaboration of birth professionals who are committed to helping improve outcomes for both moms and babies. It is our desire to educate, empower, and lovingly support families to discern the path best for them as they are transformed by the miracle of birthing their child. We strive to provide evidence-based information and up-to-date resources during pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood. It is our goal and heart’s desire to provide personalized support to every family seeking a better birth and postpartum experience, as they define it. We host the monthly Better Birth Connection™ to provide support and education to our clients.  Each year we host the Better Birth Conference™ to connect families with prenatal and postpartum resources available in our area. We strive to work with the local birth community at large by attending workshops and events and providing support to other birth professionals. 2019 WNY Doulas Better Birth Resource Guide©

2019 Corporate Sponsor 

Catholic Health Women Care

2019 Corporate Exhibitors

CorrERA Physical Therapy 

The Fountain Wellness Center     

Moonshine Studio of Photography 

WNY Family Magazine

2019 Exhibitors

Stacey Austin Acupuncture PC

Baby’s Sweet Beginnings

Buffalo Baby Bums, LLC

Calming Nature Doula Center, LLC

Care Connection Lactation/Wellness Center

The Gentle Parenting Institute

Gleason Family Chiropractic

Gypsy’s Corner Photography

Hypnobirthing Buffalo

Lifestyle Nutrition WNY, PLLC

Pietrantone Chiropractic

Postpartum Resource Center of NY

Purely Pediatrics

Amanda Rayburg, LMT

The Birthing Center of Buffalo

Vitality AfterBirth

WNY Doulas

Yoga Parkside

Wellness Within

Everett Birth Story

Photographed By Megan Gulino

Midwife | Fika Midwifery |  Lydia Doublestein |  Sigrid Chapman

Baby Sylvester Birth Story

Photographed By Megan Gulino

Unity Hospital in Rochester NY

2018 Better Birth Conference

WNY Doulas is a collaboration of five independent birth professionals who are committed to helping improve outcomes for both moms and babies. It is our desire to educate, empower, and lovingly support families to discern the path best for them as they are transformed by the miracle of birthing their child. We strive to provide evidence based information and up to date resources available during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. It is our goal and heart’s
desire to provide personalized support to every family seeking a better birth and postpartum experience, as they define it. We host the monthly Better Birth ConnectionTM to provide support and education to our clients. Each year we host the Better Birth ConferenceTM to connect families with prenatal and postpartum resources available in our area. We strive to work with the local birth community at large by attending workshops and events and providing support to other birth professionals.

2018 WNY Douas Better Birth Resource Guide© Do not reprint or copy without permission

2018 Corporate Sponsor

Catholic Health Women Care


2018 Exhibitors

BlueCross BlueShield of WNY
Corr-ERA Physical Therapy
The Fountain Wellness Center
Moonshine Studio of Photography
The Postpartum Resource Center Of New York

Stacey Austin Acupuncture PC
Baby’s Sweet Beginnings
Calming Nature Doula Center, LLC
Care Connection Lactation Center & Wellness Center

Creative Motherhood
The Gentle Parenting Institute
Gleason Family Chiropractic
Gypsy’s Corner Photography
Northeast Integrative Medicine
Pietrantone Chiropractic
Purely Pediatrics
Amanda Rayburg, LMT
Soma Cura Wellness Center
The Birthing Center of Buffalo
WNY Postpartum Connection
WNY Doulas
Yoga Parkside

Birth Story Eamon Alexander

3/8/17 9:01 am 10lbs. 8oz. 22in

What was your overall experience of a home delivery ? Overall this labor and birth was everything I had hoped for. I think every birthing woman should have the chance to experience a home birth! It was such a fulfilling experience for my entire family, and I’m so grateful we were able to share it!

What did you do to prepare yourself for labor? With this pregnancy, I was very conscious about preparing my body and mind for a spontaneous labor and home delivery- so lots of yoga, stretching, walking, and exercise, in addition to self-care routines like baths, meditation, and naps!

If you could change one thing about your labor and delivery what would it be? I honestly can’t think of anything I would want to change!

What was the most unexpected thing during l&d?Most unexpected for me- when part of my amniotic sac popped out like a water balloon!! Lol

What was your husbands most unexpected thing during l&d?Most unexpected for Al- how well the whole birth team worked together!

What worked well to calm you during l&d? My Doula Lori breathing with me, reminding me to slow down without using words, just imitating good deep breaths.

When you first saw your baby what was your first thought? THANK YOU GOD!

Who Does he look like?He looks just like his Daddy!

Who was your birth team? Midwives- {Eileen Stewart and Natalia Caraballo} | Husband- {Alex Beback}   | Doula- Lori Gehl  |  Photog- Megan Gulino

What was your experience having a birth photographer with you during l&d? I knew I wanted a birth photographer for my next birth before I even was pregnant, and I am so thankful we decided to hire Megan! You wouldn’t even know she was there most of the time, yet she was always right there to lend a hand if needed!! Such a perfect balance and important member of our team. We’ll always be able to relive and remember this experience thanks to her!


Birth Story | Nora Grace Bell

Our Birth Story

By Jamie Bell

{Baby Nora Grace Bell}

A Unique Journey

I want to start by saying that every birth is beautiful and unique. Every story is valid and true. It’s also very, very personal. Every momma knows this deeply.

Your birth story is your own and mine is my own. Why do I feel the need to say this? I couldn’t help but compare the ideas that I had of what my journey would be like to other people. I hope that in sharing this story that you don’t compare your own experience to mine or even allow my story to influence your thoughts about your own. Every momma and baby is unique and so are our stories.

It’s honestly a selfish and cathartic desire I have to document and tell this story. If it’s encouraging to anyone, that’s an added benefit. So thank you for reading.

The Beginnings

Every birth story really starts with a long pregnancy story. What’s the deal, right? Pregnancy is 9 months and we don’t really think to include that story in the birth story, do we? Well, for me it’s a huge part of the story and the journey.

Since puberty I’ve struggled with hormone balance– not knowing at the time that I had PCOS. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is very common in the U.S.. One in three women struggle with this “disease”. Every woman struggles very differently with it since it’s a syndrome: some being estrogen dominant, symptomatic, non-symptomatic, testosterone dominant, etc. My flavor of PCOS is estrogen dominance, insulin resistance and lack of progesterone.

My husband Daniel and I have been married for 6 years as of September 2016. Year two of our marriage I made a huge shift in my lifestyle and purged our house of as many toxins as possible. I also shifted my diet to whole organic foods. I detoxed from birth control pills and started the journey of trying to manage my hormone balance issues with holistic tactics.

Long story, short – I was able to heal my gut (IBS) through the big changes and gain more balance in my hormones but not perfect balance. Yet, we could not get pregnant. We were not too intentional with conception but we certainly weren’t preventing it. 4 years and no conception was evidence that we may need more assistance.

I started to apply a natural progesterone cream each night for about 6 months to see if that would help. We also scheduled our first serious appointment with my OBGYN to talk through fertility options.

The appointment went well and I left with some conception instructions and a script to force ovulation. I took the weekend to think through our options and stalled to fill the script. I was due for my period in a day or so, so I could time the medicine with my next cycle easily in the week to come.

Monday came along with no period. I thought, “Well it’s one of two things, my cycle is off because of the PCOS or we’re pregnant.” In my gut I knew we were pregnant but I couldn’t believe it. I’d taken so many pregnancy tests in the last 4 years I could probably fill a small dumpster.

Dan left for work and I ran to Rite Aid to grab a bunch of tests. Sure enough we had our first positive pregnancy test! I was in such denial I peed on 6 tests throughout the day– the results did not change. We were thrilled with unbelief and excitement! What perfect timing and irony with the OGYN appointment.

Then I was horrified.


Why horrified? Well after years of reading about fertility and hormone balance I knew that the most important thing for the first trimester and sustaining the pregnancy was progesterone – my kryptonite. I scrambled to schedule a doctor’s appointment and was immediately gripped with fear of losing the pregnancy. I mean truly gripped with fear. I couldn’t focus or function until I had a script in hand for sufficient progesterone.  My joy was vacuumed sucked away from me until I could get my hand on that progesterone.

I was able to get into the doctor’s the next day and I had a script to the pharmacy like lightening. Then my beloved insurance company refused the script. Apparently it was too high of a quality of progesterone that only specialists usually prescribe.

Side-rant: Really? I pay more than my mortgage a month for insurance as a business owner. I was livid and still horrified. *Beast mode commences* with a call to un-named insurance company. I had to constantly remind myself that kindness is much more helpful than screaming.

I was instructed that the script was under review by a special team and may take 48 hours for approval. The progesterone without insurance would cost $600+ (insert many expletives here). Oh and by the way I’m starting to spot a little. Yes, I could be losing the pregnancy already. The next two days were torturous and I felt like I was holding my breath. Finally they approved the script and I was dosed within the hour. I felt like I could exhale a bit but not truly until we reached the “safe” 12 weeks milestone.

12 weeks did come with much anxiety and I exhaled a little more but not fully. We had an anatomy sonogram at 16 weeks and something could be wrong after all. Well, the sonogram went well and we felt tons of relief but I still could not totally feel at peace until 20 weeks – half -way, you know? 20 weeks came and I could exhale a little more but not until our baby was viable at 28 weeks. You catch my drift?

I never really exhaled until 28 weeks and even then I had some fears about the birth. Not about the pain, really. I did not want a hospital birth at all. After many years of natural-birth research my heart was set on a home birth with a board certified nurse-midwife.

Midwifery Model of Care

We started our care with my OBGYN and after a few appointments, where information was presented as mandatory that we knew was optional, we decided to switch care providers. We wanted to partner with our provider when it came to important decision making for the well being of our baby and myself. We felt that my OBGYN was instead mandating and ordering us to do things that were truly optional like genetic testing, excessive blood work and vaccination during pregnancy. We knew that working with a midwife would provide us with a stronger voice in these decisions.

At 14 weeks we started prenatal care with Buffalo, NY based Midwife Eileen Stewart, with the goal of having a homebirth if the pregnancy permitted. At 28 weeks, we had qualified as low risk, despite being borderline gestational diabetic. With determination and menu modification we were in the clear for my “dream birth” at home. Funny oxymoron, I know now.

It’s really so interesting to have observed and received many opinions about how we wanted to birth. It’s such a personal thing, really. For the record, we were and are not ignorant hippies looking to endanger our child, like many an onlooker may suspect. We are two professional business owners, with college educations, who believe in modern medicine and the midwifery modal of care– like the majority of the world.

In spite of what the culture of the U.S. promotes, we knew that we would be safe and well cared-for with better mortality and cesarean rates than any local hospital. Still we were in the 1% of people in the U.S. to pursue homebirth.  Needless to say, we had lots of unsolicited advise from strangers, but our families were very supportive and know how OCD I am with research, safety and preparedness.

Throughout the whole 9 months we met frequently with other local pregnant couples working with Eileen at what are called centering meetings. Each couple would meet with a midwife for a physical exam and personal conversation about how things were going. Then as a group we discussed important topics such as breastfeeding, nutrition, exercise, etc. It was so wonderful. We’ve truly bonded with the other couples and have supported each other in achieving our natural birth goals. We have felt so cared for. I can’t express how grateful I am for Eileen and the team at Buffalo Midwifery. I’m so very impressed with the care they’ve provided.

The Fear

Coming into labor I had some emotional baggage named “fear”. I would say it was a hefty sized suitcase to be specific.

I still had the remnants of fear from struggling with fertility. We really didn’t know if we could have a biological family together and it always haunted us both a little.  There was the fear of losing the baby early on and the inability to trust that we would meet our baby girl. There were really deep-rooted fears of emotional safety during vulnerability from my far past – being a victim of molestation by a neighbor at an early age.

I also really struggled with fears about my identity.  I’ve always wanted to be a mommy, period. But after 6 years of growing and running a business together with my husband Daniel, I couldn’t envision how life would look with a baby. Would I be important anymore? Would I fade away into mommy land never to be respected or seen again by my peers? I feel embarrassed to write this but it’s really true. I feared losing my passions and meaning beyond “mommy”.

To top it off, there were fears around the unknown of how our marriage would and will evolve and change with kiddos. Will this be the “for better” or the “for worse”? I really didn’t carry fear about the pain of labor. This was the one area I felt like I could tackle. I knew it would be hard and the worse pain I’ve ever felt, but I just knew I could get through it. Emotional pain has always been the driver of my fears, instead of physical pain.

I’ve always struggled with fear. I think many people do. It’s been such a journey to understand my own fears, know how they affect me and which ones I continue to carry with me. They flare-up and rear their ugly heads during times of change and stress. And they’ve honestly made me an ugly person at times. I’ve always become overly self-protective and build walls in the face of fear. Luckily I’ve experienced a lot of healing through prayer. Not just regular prayer but intense, intentional healing prayer guided by a pastor and continued personally. It’s been a journey and I have far to travel still in this healing.

Early Labor

Fast-forward to labor day.

On December 14th, 2016, my mother’s birthday, I started to labor at 6am. The night before was a full moon – a super moon to boot. And the day of the 14th, a winter storm was forecasted here in Buffalo, NY. Some nurses and midwives agree that the weather does in fact promote labor – I like to think it’s true.

I woke to contractions at 6AM. After experiencing some contractions the week previously, I didn’t know if this was the real deal. It seems like every momma struggles with the end of pregnancy a bit. I was anxious and excited but trying to contain every emotion because, after all, it could be false labor. 

I focused all morning on my to-do list, to keep my mind busy. Somehow I had created a never-ending list of to do’s to prep for our home birth. Half of them were important the other half were comforting but totally not necessary: make labor-aid, wrap thank you gifts for the birth attendees, get the Christmas lights on the tree, make a birth playlist, make more freezer meals… This somewhat haunted me towards the end but also allowed me to focus on accomplishing small things instead of my anxious excitement to meet our baby.

At around noon, the contractions still continued and began to increase in frequency and intensity so I was thrilled to know this was the real thing. Our due date was the 16th according to my previous OBGYN and the 15th according to the sonographer– so baby was right on-time. It makes me laugh because I was not raised to be “on-time” (mom– you know it’s true) but since owning a business for 6 years, it’s a super pet peeve of mine to be prompt, even early for everything and certainly to be prepared.  Thank you baby girl – momma really appreciated that you were mindful of her time management OCD.

I labored on the exercise ball all morning and afternoon. Moving my hips in circles and bouncing. My mom and my step-dad John came over in the early afternoon to help around the house. They were also very excited an anxious to meet our baby girl. The company was so welcomed because the conversation and “to do’s” kept me busy. After taking 10 weeks of birthing classes and many sessions with our Midwife led centering group of expectant parents, we knew early first-time labor could be very long.

The weather progressively got worse as the afternoon went on and Daniel, my husband, called me at 1PM to let me know he would be going to a meeting and then coming home because the weather was getting rough.

Early labor was quite productive with making baby wipe spray, labor-aid, setting-up the birth pool, troubleshooting how to empty the pool, fixing the Christmas tree lights and making a giant lasagna– this all with the helping hands of my mom, John and Dan. Nesting in overdrive!

Call the Cavalry

We called our Doula, Beth Carey, around 3pm to let her know that labor had continually progressed and to coordinate her arrival to our home. As the weather was getting worse, she planned on arriving before dark: by 5pm or so. We sent a message to our birth photographer, Megan Gulino from Moonshine Photography. She would arrive between 6 and 7pm. We also sent a text message to Eileen to keep her posted on our progress as we continued to labor at home.

Ultimately, Beth would help us to identify the perfect time to call Eileen to have her come to our home for the birth. If you are unfamiliar, a doula is a non-medical birth coach and a midwife is a licensed medical professional.

My parents went home and Daniel and I were left to labor alone for a short period of time. We were both jittering with excitement. I was not sure how Daniel and I would truly partner together for this labor. We had taken a Bradley Method class that focused on husbands as birth coaches. We had built a business together with many challenges. We had overcome some big obstacles early in our marriage. I knew we were a good team in general but birth was a new frontier. Daniel was truly wonderful– the most supportive and attentive coach I could ever hope for. He truly labored with me every moment. I felt like we were a true team every step of the way.

Progressing Through Labor

We swayed back and forth dancing through contractions, I labored on the ball while leaning on Dan, I labored on the ball in the shower while Dan held my hand, I labored in the pool on my hands and knees while Dan was by my sid