I think you know for sure you have an incredible doula at your side when she can come over soon after you’ve given birth, and find you in your bed, topless and looking puzzled as you try to follow along with instructions to an apparatus that is supposed to help you breastfeed. In this very vulnerable moment she does not make you feel inadequate but instead somehow makes you laugh. She talks with you about your challenges and feelings of panic in a way only someone highly skilled and profoundly compassionate in their work with mothers can. As you talk she sits at the bottom of your bed and holds onto one of your feet in her hands, but it doesn’t feel weird. It feels comforting and grounding, much like you imagine a newborn must feel when hands or pillow are placed at their feet when they are learning to nurse, allowing them to relax into the feeding.
Before I gave birth, I knew I had found in Jeni a person I liked very much who put me at ease. I knew she was a beautiful, kind, smart woman with an awesome sense of humor and who was also extremely passionate about maternal child health, empowerment and positive birth outcomes. But during birth, when she held my hands and locked eyes with me, and allowed me to lay my head on her soft, flannel-covered arm to rest, she focused, calmed, and encouraged me. She was then truly present with me as I worked to establish breastfeeding and transition my family. All these moments led me to know I had found in Jeni the exact right doula for my baby and me. I will always be grateful.
CW, Wappingers Falls NY
We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Jeni during the pregnancy and birth of our second child. She has an amazing way of connecting; she exudes calm, strength, and confidence in your ability to birth the way you envision. She was by our side the moment we began working together and truly became part of our family.
Jeni’s ability to see your strength when you’re at your most vulnerable, to empower you and your partner when you feel you have nothing left, to help you find joy and humor in unlikely places, are some of her greatest traits. She is so certain of your fortitude that you have no choice but to be certain of it as well. She is empathetic, understanding, incredibly knowledgeable, an amazing advocate, and the most compassionate person I’ve known. Jeni is intuitive and anticipates your and your partner’s needs before you even know them yourself. When our delivery took a scary turn, Jeni was an invaluable support in helping us understand what was going on, validating our experience, and keeping us calm and focused. It is thanks to her that I see this birth experience as healing, not traumatic.
Jeni is a mama, a teacher, a best friend, a comedienne, and a coach all rolled into one. She’s incredible. Jeni is one in a million and it was a true privilege to have her as our doula.
AJ, Tarrytown NY
After a marathon labor that ended in a number of unwanted interventions with the birth of my first child, I knew I wanted something different for the second. We interviewed a few doulas but with Jeni it was instantly obvious she was right for us—my husband and I both left our meeting feeling like we had just been chatting with an old friend. She has a wealth of knowledge yet was completely open to our own research and interests. There was no judgement, only love and welcome.
Jeni’s unique combination of humor and grace mixed with intellect and compassion helped to quickly establish the level of intimacy necessary for this intense experience. She not only bonded with us but with our daughter, helping us to gracefully navigate the waters of new sibling-hood. No matter what the issue, Jeni always has concrete advice from her experiences as a doula and mother as well as her own research. Her input was invaluable before, during, and after the birth.
Jeni took the time to learn our concerns/fears and then helped us overcome them. She managed to anchor me through the intensity of transition in the car while instilling confidence in my husband— doning him with the title of “moula” (male-doula, an honor he is proud of to this day)! We literally could not have had the incredible labor/birth experience that I wanted without Jeni and for that we are forever grateful!
LCA, Larchmont NY
Jeni was everything we wanted for the role of our doula and more. My husband and I are very researched based people, as well as "go with your gut" people which is an interesting combo and sometimes difficult to fit in with, but Jeni got us right from the get go. For us, this was such an important part of inviting someone into our birth space. She was well prepared, well educated, and knew how to get us ready for our big day! From creating a birth plan, to educating us on our birth options and post-partum care, to day to day help with health related issues, she was there for it all. She provided emotional support, physical support (gotta love that double hip squeeze) and coaching in every way you need for a natural birth, and while encouraging us to do what felt right for us with no judgment at all. We interviewed a few people but when we met with Jeni we knew immediately that she was the one we wanted with us on this journey. We feel so lucky to have had Jeni as part of our baby girl's birth and can't imagine it without her.
JB, Patterson NY
I'm a man of few words and don't often click with people but was comfortable with Jeni right away. Jeni kept me involved throughout the whole process of planning our birth and the actual birth, without making me feel uncomfortable. As a guy, it is hard to know exactly what your role will be in your wife's birth, and Jeni made sure however I wanted to be involved, I was. She also checked in with me a lot during our pre-natal visits to make sure I was comfortable with everything we were going over. Throughout all the crazy shit, things seems to flow smoothly because Jeni was there.
JB, Patterson NY
Jeni was a practical, emotional, and spiritual lifesaver when our plans for childbirth changed unexpectedly! While my family had planned a natural childbirth with a familiar midwife, early onset of labor prevented us from receiving midwife care as planned. As such, we were very unexpectedly interfacing (alone!) with the traditional medical establishment—much to our shock and bewilderment.
We called Jeni at 4am on the morning of our birth after being turned away from the first hospital we visited because of our desire to birth naturally; it was clear to us that we needed extra knowledge and support to navigate and unexpected situation! It was Easter Sunday, and Jeni was hours away on a family vacation. Nevertheless, she quickly understood our situation and needs, and made the trip back to be part of our birth experience. Both on the phone and the instant we met in person, we understood that Jeni would be an absolutely key player in making an unexpected birth situation not only manageable, but empowering and relationship-oriented. Jeni earned our trust instantly with her knowledge, self-assured kindness, sound and secure thinking, and ability to help us productively interface with the medical establishment.
Jeni was absolutely essential in minimizing and managing the trauma of an unexpected medicalized birth. I very literally can not imagine the additional physical and emotional stress that our family unit would have suffered without her. She helped us make productive, strategic, and situation-based choices to minimize intervention and maximize the natural process of childbirth, even under non-ideal circumstances.
I would absolutely recommend Jeni as a birth doula to anyone seeking a prepared, reasonable, practical, and sensitive birth advocate or companion. She was true lifesaver for our family, and I am more than honored to have her be an extremely central character in my birth story.
SH, Newburgh NY
I had a difficult time with the birth of my first child, so with my second, I hired Jeni as a birth doula, and it made all the difference! She helped me move on from my past experience and was an amazing source of support and love throughout the final weeks of pregnancy and all the stages of giving birth. She helped counsel us when we were trying to turn our breech baby naturally, talked and texted with me when I was close to laboring, and then she was by my side during active labor until the baby was born. She was open and honest with us, encouraged us in our desire to have an unmedicated birth and to stay home as long as possible, and was incredibly supportive and sensitive to my needs during active labor and birth. It was an empowering, beautiful experience, and (although Jeni would downplay her role in it all) I know I couldn’t have done it without the confidence, love, and calm she brought to our baby girl’s birth.
CM, Highland NY
I literally don't know what I would have done without Jeni as our postpartum doula. She was a much needed friend, mother, nurse, chef, caretaker, therapist and cheerleader all wrapped up in one person. Jeni provided me with daily support, love, nurturing and most of all, PERSPECTIVE in a time when it's so very difficult to see beyond your immediate needs and concerns. Jeni will always be a very special part of our family and one of my son's first loves.
SS, Pawling NY
Jeni's services were gifted to me by a fellow doula. Being a postpartum doula myself, I had high expectations and an in depth understanding of what makes a good doula. Jeni not only met, but exceeded those expectations. She was a calming presence that allowed me time for self-care knowing my newborn was safely snuggled and being cared for. Jeni was also very helpful with my older children and even helped with light meal prep. Doula extraordinaire and an amazing person all around. Any birthing person would be lucky to have Jeni as their doula.
KS, New Fairfield CT
I couldn’t have done it without Jeni! From the beginning, she went out of her way to answer any questions, fears or issues I had with my upcoming birth. Having just moved to a new town, away from friends and family, Jeni became like family to us. She went above and beyond during my rough labor and made me feel protected when my focus was on the birth. I tell everyone who is pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant to get a doula, then I give them Jeni’s number.
ASB, Pawling, NY
We were so thankful to have Jeni supporting us during this new stage of our lives. From our very first call with Jeni, we felt at ease and knew we wanted her to be by our sides through the pre-labor and labor process. Through phone calls and prenatal visits, Jeni began to feel like a long lost sister and friend.
Throughout 24+ hours of labor, Jeni helped me cope with labor discomfort, suggesting various positions and techniques while also allowing my husband space to play a part as my lead coach. As personal of an experience as it was, she made us feel comfortable and confident.
We also appreciated her knowledge of the human body and childbirth. Having trained as an Occupational Therapist, Jeni’s knowledge is evidence based which she seamlessly combines with her real world experience. We can not recommend working with Jeni enough!
JM, New Rochelle NY
Hiring Jeni was the best decision I made in order to feel confident about my first birth. My decision to hire a doula had to do with needing a birth partner due to a medical-phobic husband. I liked Jeni's evidence-based approach as well as her warm, bright personality. I also liked the option to bundle childbirth classes. The classes were great -- tailored to what I needed to know and complete with snacks! She did one session with me that covered the medical things and a second session with me and my husband that concentrated more on practical post-partum topics.
I wanted to try for a natural childbirth, but instead I had a complicated labor and ultimately needed a c-section due to fetal distress from nuchal cord. Jeni was with me from Wednesday night, when she met me at home and took me to the hospital, through Friday morning making sure my baby and I were safely recovering. It was intense and long, and Jeni went above and beyond. She was always ready with new ideas to help keep me comfortable as I tried to progress through labor. She always offered information on the different interventions I needed. She helped me navigate the logistics and my feelings as the need for a c-section arose. And ultimately it was her holding my hand in the operating room.
So even though the details of my labor and delivery are intense, it was Jeni who kept me afloat through the whole experience. It is a very profound process, something that will link her to my life and my child's life forever, and I will always be grateful to her.
KRW, Hastings-on-Hudson NY
Working with Jeni was one of the most important decisions my partner and I made during the pregnancy. She was so educated on childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant care, and delivered the info to us warmly in a private session. While she thoroughly prepared us for an unmedicated vaginal birth, I unfortunately needed a C-section due to a breech and she was there every step of the way. I also was going through a lot of family medical emergencies at time, and she helped me cope in the midst of a wonderful but also challenging time. She was really great at including my husband, whom she treated as an equally important part of the birth team - this was very important to us. Postpartum visits were so appreciated and meaningful, as we were adjusting to first-time parenthood. Because of Jeni's guidance, I was able to have a beautiful, gentle, C-section and successfully, exclusively breastfeed. We love you Jeni - couldn't have imagined doing it without you!
AK, Garrison NY
I recently referred a pregnant friend of mine to Jeni and jokingly said "there is no way in hell I would go through labor again unless I knew for sure that Jeni would be there with me!" That might sound a bit far fetched, but thinking back to my labor, childbirth, and the months leading up to that day, it is clear that Jeni was integral to all of it- giving me access to a strength of my own that I didn't trust was there.
In my days laboring at home Jeni was the most calming, reassuring and fortifying presence and a constant support for all things practical and emotional. When the time finally came that we went to the hospital for an induction, the nurses did all the admin and checked my vitals and strapped me to a monitor... and then they left. And my husband and I were left alone for the most part, and we really had no idea what to do. I'll give us credit and say we handled it pretty well but when Jeni showed up a few hours later it was a total game changer. She knew exactly what to do physically. She urged me to change positions and do things that in the moment I thought "leave me alone, I'll just clench my way through this right here, holding my breath!" But when I followed her suggestions I was so so glad I did. She seemed to somehow intuit exactly what I needed in each moment. As we got into the later stages of labor, Jeni's role became increasingly physical, and her own hands and her instructions to my husband became crucial to my comfort level. Every time I wanted to give up and stop breathing, she would smooth out my furrowed brow and comfort me with the words I needed in that moment.
Though that day is a bit of a foggy memory now, four months later, my husband and I remember one thing quite clearly... thank GOD Jeni was there! I literally don't know how we would have gotten through it without her. And all joking aside, I really wouldn't advise going through labor without her.
AM, Beacon NY
Immediately upon meeting Jeni for the first time, we knew that we had struck gold. Her warm, compassionate, generous, and authentic presence combined with her incredible depth of knowledge of research-based best practices made us feel so supported in all ways. While Jeni brings tremendous expertise to her work, her focus never deviated from helping us have the birth experience we wanted. She really listened to us, cared for us, and helped create a positive continuum throughout our pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. It was a privilege and a joy to work with Jeni, and we could not possibly recommend her more highly!
AD & MM, Rye NY
We had hoped and planned for an au natural birthing experience and Jeni, through her one-on-one birthing class (HIGHLY RECOMMEND), prepared us for just that. With her scientific-based research, personal knowledge, and experience, she prepared us for every possibility and moment we would go through in a thoughtful and kind manner. I felt safe, cared for, and I had no fears going into this process because I knew Jeni had prepared us, and she would be there to take us through the birth.
When my contractions started to take over, Jeni had me in the spa tub, out of the spa tub using traction and resistance to ease and move through my contractions. She administered her honey sticks, rubbed my back, and slept by me. She guided me through the ENTIRE journey, she never left my side. I honestly do not know how women go through the birth process without step-by-step guidance and support. I am forever grateful for Jeni Howe, and her awesome doula-ness.
SC, Bronxville NY
When searching for a doula, it was important for me to find someone who was practical and who aligned with our preference for a medication free birth. One of Jeni’s biggest assets is that she meets couples where they are, and doesn’t judge or make suggestions that aren’t appropriate based on each family’s situation and individual wishes. Beyond that, she is extremely experienced and knowledgeable about EVERYTHING birth related, so I knew we were in good hands when it came to having someone to answer all of our questions and concerns. I knew she would be an advocate for us in the hospital if we needed one, which was really important to me. She gave us really helpful information to be able to make decisions that were right for us. Most importantly, Jeni is a calm and reassuring presence during the main event! We were blessed with a quick labor and delivery, but I was so glad to have Jeni there as a steady presence and helpful hand during the crazy car ride to the hospital and during delivery. The post-natal visits she provided were super helpful for breastfeeding challenges as well. We were so glad to have her on our team for our first birth!
RB, Newburgh NY
Jeni was so amazing that we switched OBs/midwives several times because she showed us how amazing a partnership around birth could be. She made us feel less alone in times of struggle and uncertainty. She supported us in our struggle to have the kind of birth we wanted and when that turned out to not be possible, she held our hands, congratulated us on our fight, and comforted us through the rest. I don't think we could have asked for a better doula.
JD & MD, Cortlandt Manor, NY
We met Jeni early on in my pregnancy and hiring her as our doula was the most important decision we made in the whole process. If you meet Jeni, you’ll know in an instant that she is an intensely loving and nurturing person. To know her is to love her. She is also responsive and extremely generous with her time. Those qualities are essential, but they are not what sets Jeni apart. Instead, what sets her apart - by a wide margin - is that she is extremely informed and resourceful. In fact, her extensive knowledge was outcome determinative in the safe, healthy and joyful birth of our daughter, Isabel.
When I was admitted to the hospital nearly three weeks before my due date and had to be induced, I was terrified. This was a far cry from our plan to have Isabel at a birth center, without medical intervention. When the first attempt at starting my labor failed, I was presented, by various medical providers, with a number of extreme options to commence labor. I felt deeply that those options were unnecessary. I was scared and exhausted and overwhelmed. I talked it all over with Jeni who immediately suggested a better medical solution, with far less risk to me or the baby. I took the suggestion to the midwife, perinatologist and L&D nurses and they agreed to try it. Jeni’s suggestion worked.Without Jeni, I am certain that I would have been forced to endure painful and unnecessary medical interventions, ultimately leading to a c-section. Instead, the birth of our daughter was a truly beautiful and joyful experience. We feel blessed to have had Jeni with us from start to finish as our doula, and to have her now as our friend.
EA, Millbrook, NY
Preparing for labor and going through labor is not something we are meant to do alone. Jeni helped me feel prepared and once labor began she brought me and my husband so much comfort. I look back and wonder how anyone can go through such a big experience without the support of a doula. Don’t hesitate! You and your baby are worth it. Jeni’s support will be a game changer in your birthing experience.
JO, Sandy Hook, CT