References for Catherine Stewart-Lindley
I first worked with Catherine Stewart-Lindley during the standard prenatal visit for a labor support doula. I knew right from the beginning that I was dealing with someone who was thorough, committed and enthusiastic about her work. I felt comfortable hiring her because I trusted her ability to provide the utmost support to me while I was in labor and knew her experience in both the delivery room and with the birth of her own daughter would help allay any anxiety about my upcoming birth.
I first called Catherine in the early afternoon before I went into labor and told her that since I wasn’t feeling anything special I didn’t think I would be delivering that day. However, within two hours, my water broke and I called her on the way to the hospital. She rushed to me and met me within an hour of my call. From that point on, she was by my side during the entire 11 hour labor.
Because of a complication with my pregnancy, I was forced to lie on my side for almost the entire labor, with the one exception being a short time where I was allowed to hang over the top of the bed. In addition, I was given pitocin, a chemical which enhances contractions to a level much greater than one would experience with a natural labor. Under these circumstances even the most staunch natural birth advocates admit that a labor free of pain killing is difficult. Catherine’s indefatigable support throughout the entire process gave me the strength to not only birth my baby safely, but to do it without any painkilling drugs, something for which I will be eternally grateful. Through endless cycles of contractions she was at my side, massaging my back, applying pressure when it hurt and helping in any and every way that she could. Her calm and knowledgeable presence provided me with a constant source of reassurance and light as I traveled through the maze of birth.
Catherine was not only supportive throughout the entire birth but during my postpartum period as well. We saw each other often and easily became friends, which is why I volunteered to write this letter and have recommended her to anyone I know who is pregnant and is interested in having a doula. I can’t imagine a better, more dedicated, and supportive person to have with me during the most intense experience of my life. I am so thankful that I was able to have her present for the birth of my daughter, and I know my sister-in-law will feel the same way in July, when she gives birth the her son with Ms. Stewart-Lindley as her doula as well.
Mother of Zoë
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Everyday for the last 3 days I have wanted to call you but it has been a world wind around here and I lie in bed at 4am nursing my son and sad that I have not called. I really just wanted to say thank you so much for making my birth possible. I am so happy and so proud of my birth story and I really owe it to you. I was so scared when I first met you that I was crazy and I would never be able to have this child without drugs/intervention -- I was not even sure why I was hiring you. I thought maybe just give it one more try and I should stack the odds in my favor by having you there. Now I realize that it's not so crazy to think that I could do what women have been doing for thousands of years--if you have the support and the knowledge of how to make it happen--which I never would have had without you to provide it. You were amazing for me and Craig--you helped him really help and support me in the way I needed to be supported. I wish every woman was as lucky as I was to have you. Craig and I can't stop talking about you and how amazing you are. Well, thank you again.
Dr. Rebecca, MD
Mother of Donny
I am convinced to this day that without Catherine’s help and support, I would have ended having a C-Section. At first, I was not too keen on having a doula, but I now know that hiring Catherine turned out to be best thing for us. Her warm care and dedication allowed me to deliver my baby the way I wanted to. I know for sure that without her, things would most likely would have spiraled downward, and I would have been deprived of the most beautiful experience in my life. When we met the first time, we talked about our wish, which was to have our baby at the natural birth center at Roosevelt Hospital, without an epidural, in the most natural way possible. Unfortunately, everything did not happen as we pictured it and we did not have the time to write our birth plan, as Catherine had advised us. I broke my water at 32 weeks, and I ended in the hospital on bed rest, hoping not to go into labor so that my bby would not be premature and would not need to go to NICU. Those were very difficult moments; I was alone in a cold hospital, all my family, except for my husband, lives in Europe, and I was fearing for the life of my baby. Catherine completely stepped up and her daily calls and frequent visits were extremely important for me. Here was a woman who was not a friend just trying to be comforting; here was a woman who was not just prescriptive, like the medical personal around; here was a woman who knew what she was talking about, who listened to me, my sorrows, my anxiety, and who gave me so many pieces of objective advice; here was a women whose opinion and judgment I trusted. When you are pre-prom, there is always a risk of infection, which could put the life of the mother and the child at risk. It is Catherine, not the doctors, who suggested to take large amounts of vitamin C every day as I didn’t want to take the constant doses of antibiotics. When asked for her input, my OB thought it was a good recommendation, but she was not the one who suggested it. Catherine did. After 3 weeks spent in this hospital, the doctors felt that the fetus was big enough and that it was time to induce me, with the possibility of my daughter having to go to NICU. I had strong thoughts against induction, stronger fears that my baby would need special intensive care; I was devastated. (With significantly premature rupture of membranes or pre-PROM, induction is not done at 35 weeks for the health of mother or baby. It is because it is cheaper to keep the baby in the NICU than the mother in the hospital.) Catherine suggested several studies on the subject that comforted me in my decision of waiting to go into labor naturally, when my baby would decide it was time to come and meet us. Awfully depressed by the hospital surroundings, I finally decided to sign myself out and to have a nurse check daily with me in my own home. That very same day, once home, once relaxed, labor began. Catherine came right away. She had attended somebody else’s birth that very same day and was exhausted, but she was 100% there for me. Thanks to her experience, I was able to stay laboring in the comfort of my home for a long time. When the proper moment arrived, she suggested we go to the hospital. Without her, we probably would have gone much earlier and I would have ended being poked by everybody at the hospital. I never felt Catherine interfered in a wrong way with our family experience; to the contrary, I felt she empowered us. She knew how to be present enough and transparent enough at the same time. In an ideal world, one would not need a doula. But the medical institutions are what they are, overmedicalized and pretty insensitive. For this reason, I recommend to all my friends who are about to have a baby to ask Catherine for her help.
Catherine is a strong, smart, caring woman and she will always be part of our life as the person who helped our baby arrive smoothly into this world.
Mother of Harmonie
I was very fortunate to connect with Catherine in my sixth month of pregnancy. Although I was under the prenatal care of a highly-recommended OB-GYN group (which highlighted its inclusion of a midwife on staff), I really was not fully comfortable with the care I was receiving. Having read journalist Naomi Wolf’s book, Misconceptions, I knew I wanted to avoid the intensely medicalized prenatal care and birth experience she had had, but I was afraid to sit my doctors down, ask them direct questions, and deal with the consequences of getting answers I knew I wasn’t going to like. On the other hand, I didn’t want to feel so alone on my journey, or end up with an unnecessary C-section. I was double-minded to the point of indecision and inaction.
Fortunately, Catherine generously waded through all my fears, defensiveness, and insecurities to equip me with knowledge, and then to empower me to make decisions that were in alignment with my values. She provided me and my husband with a comprehensive and balanced education on pregnancy, the birth process, potential issues and options. She used resources she had developed, as well as a wealth of external resources/references, so that I was assured of the accuracy and completeness of the perspectives she offered me. I completely shifted from a place of helplessness and self-doubt to a position of confidence and anticipation. I asked my OB-GYN group all the questions I had avoided – and got all the answers I had feared. Though I was far along in my pregnancy, this set me in motion to find the right prenatal/birth/postnatal team for me, including Catherine as my doula.
My son’s birth was one of the most remarkable and rewarding experiences of my lifetime. My choices included natural childbirth (this from a woman who originally wanted to be unconscious during delivery!!), attended by a skillful midwife and doula. With Catherine’s support, my husband, my son and I made it through labor and delivery drug-free; Catherine’s skill kept my labor progressing when it began to stall out, shortening the overall length of my labor and helping me to achieve my desired goal of birth without intervention.
I will forever be grateful to Catherine for helping me and my husband evolve from passive, hesitant observers of the pregnancy process into active, powerful participants in the birth of our son. I look forward to working with her again, should I become pregnant. I recommend her without reservation.
Mother of Elijah
With Catherine’s guidance and support, I had the most amazing birth experience I could have dreamed of. When my husband and I first met with Catherine, we didn’t have a clear birth plan, we just had a vague idea that we wanted to have a positive experience and to strive to have it as natural as possible. I honestly had doubts that I could manage without pain medication—doubts that were reinforced by friends and family who told me how unbearable the pain would be. Catherine was the one voice that told me that it was possible, that in fact, a women’s body is designed to be able to cope with childbirth without intervention. While Catherine left the decision to use medication completely up to me, she explained that she could help me find positions so that I would possibly not need it. I was impressed with the wealth of information she provided me at that first meeting. She had a list of things I should do a month before the birth to prepare my body—and I believe this advice made a world of difference for me. At my later OB appointments, my doctor told me I would have an easy labor because of how ready my body was, most likely due to the advice Catherine gave me that I was following. It ended up being easy indeed—I labored at home overnight and was fully dilated by the time I got to the hospital. Being able to feel my baby coming out of me and to experience the euphoria afterwards is something I will remember for the rest of my life. I thank Catherine for being there for me and showing me it was possible.
Mother of Isobel
I was skeptical at first. The idea of doulas, midwives, and home birth seemed to remind me of flower power, psychics, and all around irresponsibility. I attempted to persuade my wife to "be reasonable" by submitting to a doctor "like everybody else does." Fortunately, I was wrong.
Catherine was not only helpful, she was essential. Her guidance, her insight, her experience made the difference between a frightening, unsure experience, and an insightful and joyful day we will remember for eternity. Catherine's service to our family proved to me not only the importance of the doula in advocating for the mother, but also the love and guidance that they bring to this brand new life entering the world.
I wholeheartedly support Catherine and recommend her as a doula to anyone expecting. Further, I hope and pray for her comfort and direction when my wife and I are blessed with our next child. Hiring Catherine as your doula truly is one of the best choices you can make to give your child a great start in life.
Homebirth father of Jack
Catherine came into my life as a Godsend. She truly became my “earth angel,” and I had no idea that she would be when I first met her at the “Realbirth” class. All I knew was that she was someone very special and rare. I remember thinking she was so strong and knowledgeable, and so calm and confident when it came to birthing. Plus she genuinely cared and was so passionate about birthing that you could see it was truly a part of her. I was dreaming of having a doula, but never in a million years did I think I could get Catherine, who truly is the BEST of the best. For one I didn't think I could afford what the she deserves, and two I figured she would be overbooked because she is in such high demand. It is rare to find a doula with her knowledge, experience, and intuition. Catherine was definitely booked, but she knew I needed support desperately and somehow she found a way to make herself available to me. In addition to having an amazing doula, I was really dreaming of having a natural birth - since I was so inspired by my friend Monika’s natural “birth story” and how alert, connected and present her baby girl was when I first met her - yet I did not think a natural birth was ‘meant to be’ for my baby.
I say that because shortly before my birthing classes began, I had learned that I had a rare blood clotting, DNA mutation, called Factor V Leiden (heterozygous). I spent about a month during my second trimester, with the right side of my body numb, and after two doctors and one emergency room visit later, the perinatologist decided to send me to a blood lab to do extensive tests including DNA tests. Sure enough they found out what my issue was-Factor V Leiden-(heterozygous). Just two days after putting me on a daily dose of 40 mg of Lovenox injections (a blood thinner prescribed until 6 weeks after giving birth), my numbness went away and never came back. From that point on in my pregnancy, the doctors considered my pregnancy “high-risk.” So, this meant many things such as the possibility of having a stillbirth from the second trimester up through birth (when every doctor told me my numbness was probably nothing to be worried about) – that a potential stillbirth would be due to my blood clotting in the placenta, causing the placenta to separate from the baby. Being considered “high risk” also meant that I had a chance of having a blood clot somewhere else as well (brain, lung, heart…etc). I was told my labor had to be induced so that the doctors could be in control, in case anything were to happen to me or the baby during the “stress” of labor. I was crushed because of how much I dreamed of having a natural birth. So, when I met Catherine, it was a beautiful beginning to addressing my fears and giving me brand new faith and hope.
By teaching me healthier and smarter ways to look at birthing, Catherine helped me safely have the natural birth I desired. That’s right…no induction, no pitocin. YAY!!! Thank God I met Catherine! In addition, I learned that labor was a “good stress,” and that my body and the baby were meant to go through it. It was a complete transformation from realizing I was not required to be induced, to learning pain-coping techniques such as: staying physical, using the bath/shower, vitamins and herbal supplements, etc...just to name a few. She taught me to be prepared, to do my research, and that I had a personal right and choice to say “yes” or “no” to many of the hospital’s standard procedures. Having Catherine at my birth was like having an added spine or dose of confidence and strength; mixed with gentleness, love, and much needed nurturing. Her support helped me to stick up for what I deeply desired/wanted/needed, and to not be intimidated to do so.
When Catherine said she could take me & my high-risk condition on; I was so happy, in awe, and could not believe how blessed I felt. From the very first second, she was fiercely committed, present and strongly supportive. It was like she anticipated my needs before I even knew I had them. From continuing to address my fears, meeting with me, answering my emails and text messages and calls; I never felt her support lessen or leave. It just grew stronger in every moment. She never left my side during the labor. At one point she noticed the baby’s heartbeat going down and had me shift my weight in the position I was in. She even helped me to push & break my water naturally. After I had my healthy baby girl, Estella, Catherine stayed with me for a few hours helping her and I to breastfeed; helping me to urinate and care for my newfound, sore perineum; and giving me guidance on treating the next 3 month, postpartum period-as a fourth trimester for the baby.
Catherine is more than the BEST doula in the world; she is a GENUINE friend who I know I can contact at any time to ask her opinion, wisdom or advice on my baby, and even parenting. I think it is her sweet and loving, yet strong heart that assures me I will always have the freedom to do so, if I ever need her…and that is PRICELESS!
Mother of Estella
I have been meaning to write to say thank you. Josh and I are so grateful for your very caring help and wisdom both during labor and post partum.
During labor, I really don't know what we would have done without you. You were such a great support for me--allowing me to really settle into labor without self consciousness, and with confidence that following my body's cues was not only ok, but what I was supposed to do. Your presence reminded me and Josh that we could take more time, and not be rushed into any decision-making. And I know that you were a huge help for Josh, who was a super-hero in his support of me during that amazing day, and he really needed someone to be there for him too. It was a very long day for us, and fulfilling because I know we did everything we could to make a vaginal delivery possible. Your commitment to us, and where we were at any given moment was amazing, and we are so grateful.
Likewise, after our incredible Giacomo arrived, your sound counsel made both of us feel like we could give him the best possible care. I loved that you often answered my questions with questions, encouraging me to rely on my intuition. You taught me to trust myself, and my instincts--a gift that can't be underestimated for a new mom. Of course, the practical advice and lessons were invaluable, but there was something ineffable about your presence that convinced Josh and I that we knew exactly what to do.
We're easing into parenthood with a love and confidence that you helped foster in us, and we are better parents to Giacomo for it. Thank you for everything, and I look forward to staying in touch to let you know how things are going. Giacomo is a star, and we are so in love with him. What an amazing experience this is, and thanks again for the incredible role you played in it.
Take good care,
Mother of Giacomo
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