Melissa Duenas Photo

Melissa Duenas

Mama Warrior Doula

Website: https://www.mamawarriordoula.com

Phone: 8608903970

Birth Fee: $1250 to $1850

Postpartum Rate: $30 to $40

Fee Details: I am a Master Doula for Birth Tribe. To find out more about the doulas at Birth Tribe, check out our website at www.yourbirthtribe.com I am a DONA trained and Madriella certified birth doula, postaprtum doula, certified lactation counselor, and Reiki practitioner. After my own traumatic birth experience, I became a birth advocate, working closely with Improving Birth Organization, LLC. I'm most well known for my advocation for clients that may be deemed as high risk, including twins and VBAC's. I specialize in clients with a history of anxiety and depression. I began supporting women one on one, as a Certified Lactation Counselor in early 2012, and eventually found Doula work to be my calling later that year. My birth philosphy is "Knowledge is Power", believing that clients who can communicate fact based information, that supports their wants and desires for labor, are treated with respect, and have significantly better outcomes during their labor & birth experiences.

Birth Doula Experience: 6 years and 261 births attended

Postpartum Doula Experience: 2 years and 17 families served

Birth Doula Certifications

  • Madriella Doula Network - Certified Labor Doula

Postpartum Doula Certifications

  • Madriella Doula Network - Certified Postpartum Doula

Doula Training

  • DONA International, September 2013
  • Madriella, March 2018
Type of Practice: Doula agency owner

Clients per Month: 3 to 4 births and 0 postpartum families

Postpartum limits/restrictions: I'm currently not taking postpartum clients
Attends hospital births? Some Hospitals
If you're having a hospital birth that isn't on my list of places I serve, contact me to find out why! Where I will attend births: Manchester Memorial, St. Francis, Hartford Hospital, Bristol Hospital, Hospital of Central CT, Middlesex Hospital, and Yale (Vidone & York)
Attends birth center births? All Birth Centers
Attends home births? Any Home Birth
Are you looking for a homebirth midwife and aren't sure of your options? Let me help you find the perfect one for you and your familly.

Breastfeeding Certifications

  • Certified Breastfeeding Counselor
  • Certified Breastfeeding Specialist (Lactation Education Resources)

Other Relevant Certifications

  • Certified Placenta Encapsulator (International Placenta & Postpartum Association - IPPA)
  • HBC - Home Birth Consultant

Specialized training or previous experience

  • Addiction Recovery
  • Adoption
  • Cesarean birth
  • Clients on bed rest
  • Domestic Violence
  • Expected stillbirth
  • Families conceiving with ART and IVF
  • High risk
  • Home Birth
  • LGBTQP Families
  • Over 40
  • Plus size mothers
  • Postpartum mood disorders
  • Prematurity
  • Relinquishing mothers
  • Single parents
  • Surrogacy
  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse
  • Teens
  • VBAC
  • Waterbirth

Special Services Offered

  • Acupressure
  • American Red Cross First Aid and CPR
  • Baby-led weaning
  • Babywearing education
  • Elimination communication education
  • Military famiies
  • Miscarriage Support (Before, During or After)
  • Placenta encapsulation
  • Reduced rates for women considering adoption
  • Satellite Doula (For remote and rural clients)
  • Sibling support (for your older children at the birth)

Relevant volunteer or advocacy work

I volunteer for an organization that provides doula services for free, or at very little cost, to low income families, women who are at risk, or young mothers. I also run Postpartum Support International Connecticut Chapter group, for women who are struggling with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders or are simply looking for support adjusting to parenthood. If you would like information about attending one of these groups, please fee free to contact me for date and meeting times.

Languages spoken: English

Service Area Map

Area of practice: Manchester, CT
Travel Range: 65 Miles

Certifications for Melissa Duenas

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Certification

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Client Testimonials for Melissa Duenas

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Lindsay Lorson

Melissa was awesome! This was my first pregnancy, and it was such a blessing to have Melissa just a phone call or text away if I had any questions about strange symptoms or even what I should put on my registry. I ended up needing to be induced for IUGR, and Melissa guided us through this process when we felt a bit pressured by our OB-GYN. I was very nervous about being induced, and it was so reassuing to have Melissa in the delivery room with us. Thankfully I walked into the hospital already 4 cm dilated. I ended up delivering naturally about 8 hours from the start of my induction! (And Melissa took some awesome cell phone pictures and wrote up a beautiful birth story for us!)

Posted 11/1/2018

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Eunice Kim

I found that having a doula was a great experience during my pregnancy. I chose to have a doula because I tend to be an anxious person and have had some negative experience with doctors in the past. Melissa was a great support throughout my pregnancy and during labor and delivery. Oftentimes the doctors made me feel rushed through appointments so it was great to be able reach out to someone else with questions or concerns. At the hospital it was really great to have Melissa there to answer basic questions about my medical history because my husband and I were totally not in the mindset to do that! Melissa made sure to take lots of pictures as well during labor. She also stayed with me after the birth for support which I really appreciated especially since my baby and husband were in and out for routine tests for the baby and my anxiety would start going up when my baby was gone for too long! I would recommend having a doula for every first time pregnancy and Melissa was an awesome and knowledgable support! 

Posted 10/14/2018

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laurel pickard

Melissa was amazing.  i was seeking a doula comfortable with high risk pregnancies after finding out we'd be up against some complications.  She empathized with my concerns, offered supportive ideas and gave me information the medical folks had not mentioned.  She was not judgemental about my relationships.  I felt comfortable sharing my fears with her, and she was realistic but also calming.  She helped me connect with other people for prenatal massage and placenta encapsulation, who were also fantastic.  She was not judgemental about my issues of anxiety.

I always felt like she had time for me, including multiple emails and texts during the pregnancy.  Our meetings before hand were very helpful, letting me know i had options i was not aware of.

In labor she was a godsend.  This was my second pregnancy, with my first an unmedicated home birth.  Going to a hospital setting for the first time in my life (aside from my own birth) was intimidating.  Having her right there, walking us through the process was calming.  She explained things to me, and always seemed to know what i needed before i did.  When labor was not progressing as i had hoped and the pain was very intense, she helped me find another position and offered reminders that this was not a linear process.  I think without Melissa's support i would have sought an epidural but with her present i was able to get through.

She also made sure i held my son as soon as possible, which i desperately needed in that moment.  Again, before i could put words to the feelings, she knew.

She was also wonderful afterwards, checking in on me.  She sent a lovely birth story and photographs of the birth, glimpses of my son i was not able to see because of the position i gave birth.

 

I would reccomend Melissa to anyone, particularly those folks who may be facing a challenge of sorts.

Posted 10/2/2018

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Catherine Harger

Melissa was understanding and kind. She has a non-judgemental attitude that helped me take ownership of what I really wanted my brith experience to be like. When we got to the pushing stage of birth my self-doubt kicked in hard! She looked into my eyes inbetween each contraction with strength and fortitude. She reassured me that I was strong. And now I have a beautiful baby girl.

 

I truly couldn't have done this without her. 

Posted 10/1/2018

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George

Hiring Melissa as a doula was such a great experience. Being a first time father and a male were likely contributors to the thoughts I initially had of, “Is it necessary to hire someone to help, what are the doctors for?“ or “I‘m here to support you so what else do we need?” But, wanting to support my partner the best we decided to go forward with hiring Melissa as our doula. After our first meeting together I quickly realized my initial thoughts were completely wrong. Each of the meetings before the birth were very informative and helpful. From finding out what to expect, to what we should pack in our hospital bag to the opportunity to vent about anxiety surrounding the pregnancy process each brought a little more peace of mind.

On the day of the birth contractions started in the middle of the night and caught us off guard. My partner was able to reach out to Melissa in the middle of the night and after hearing her experience a contraction over the phone it was determined that the doula should head right over. When Melissa got to the house she knew right away it was time to head to the hospital. She followed us there and helped my girlfriend through the 3 contractions she had on the way from the parking garage to labor and delivery. 

Once we were in the room Melissa stood by my partner and talked her through the contractions as well as making sure hospital staff were doing what they were supposed to be doing. When the pushing actually started I never felt so helpless in my life. My partner was screaming in agony and i had no idea how to help. Melissa knew exactly how to make her feel comfortable and safe and even took time to check in with me and rub my back! 

When the baby was born Melissa’s first words to me were, “she’s perfect“ and that melted away any residual tension I had. She even helped with breast feeding. So happy we made this decision, would highly recommend.

Posted 10/1/2018

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Jaimee Mansfield

We used Melissa as our doula for our 5th baby, and 3rd planned homebirth. Melissa provided so much wonderful support and advice throughout my pregnancy. When my water broke, she left to come to our home right away, even though i wasn’t in full blown labor yet because she knew i was worried about potentially being alone and not having the midwives arrive in time. melissa was so amazing through what ended up being my absolute longest and hardest labor, and was so comforting and supportive. Ultimately we ended up having to transfer to the hospital because our baby was struggling a little. She helped make that process seemless and as least traumatic as possible.  Once we were there and baby was assessed, she did her doula magic and got my stubborn baby to move down into a more favorable position. She kept repeating comforting words of strength and love as i felt at the absolute end of my rope. I truly do not believe my baby would have been born vaginally if not for her. I am so beyond thankful for her support and love, and i wouldn’t even question hiring her again if we had another baby! 

Posted 10/1/2018

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Emma Lesser

When my wife first told me she wanted a doula to attend the birth of our twins, I was somewhat surprised. Her mom hired a doula mostly because her husband was not a particularly strong support system nor an active partner through her pregnancy. These two things are pretty much the opposite of me as a partner. I knew we both were sure of how supportive and encouraging I could be through the delivery. As soon as we began working with Melissa, I knew my wife's interest in having a doula was a great instinct. My wife can worry a lot about worst case scenarios. Throughout the pregnancy, Melissa was a crucial part of helping my wife manage her anxiety. Melissa has an amazing intuition for the particular needs of her individual clients, and she used that to cater to my wife's specific anxieties. One way she did this was by providing extensive research and information to my research-obsessed wife. This was exactly what my wife needed. Melissa's presence at the birth was reassuring and comforting to both of us. I was happy-crying through a lot of the labor and delivery and Melissa was very present, even crying along with me, while keeping my wife's needs centered. My wife was seriously remarkable through a challenging labor and vaginal delivery of two OP (face-up) babies. While I know that strength and power came from my wife, I truly feel like Melissa's presence helped her tap into that. When my wife was feeling defeat and said "I can't do this" Melissa told her "you're already doing it! You CAN do this". When we needed to make a decision during the birth, we were glad to have her there to guide/support us. After the healthy birth of our twins Melissa continued to support us both in a very emotional time. We are a gay couple and if I am ever pregnant I can only hope I'd be able to have her attend my delivery. After working with Melissa I feel so strongly that everyone should have a doula, and would tell anyone in Connecticut to look up Melissa <3

Posted 9/20/2018

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Erinne Lukaniec

My little famliy had quite an experience. I don't know what would have happened without her. We started as a homebirth and ended in a cesarean. Melissa knew when to step in and when to sit back. She was the gel that filled in all the cracks to help support my husband and I during our birth. When I went in the OR, I was put under anesthesia which was not the plan, and she  stayed with my husband who was scared out of his mind.  The days following the birth were incredibly difficult and when we needed her, she showed up again to lift our spirits and glue us back together. She knows absolutely everything and her energy and presence make you feel at ease. She is a great doula and a strong warrior who will teach you how to fight for yourself!

Posted 9/19/2018

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Julia Cavagnaro

Melissa was lovely to work with and was definitely the best choice of a doula for us!

Its hard to really put into words but when I first met Melissa I felt really comfortable and thought we clicked immediately. She was also a wealth of information having answers to all of our questions and always kept things fun and light hearted. 

Fast forward to labor and delivery...I had a marathon birth (spread out over 2 days) and Melissa was essentially there for all of it and her support in the immediate days post delivery was also amazing. My husband and I were both so happy to have her there.

I’m really glad my husband and I decided to hire a doula and I’m really glad we met Melissa in the process! 

Posted 9/1/2018

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Amy Rapone

When my husband I and found out we were expecting our second child, one of the first people we called was Melissa. She had been our Doula for our first daughter, and had no question that I would want her to be our support again. My first birth was great, but had a difficult time dealing with my providers, which Melissa was helpful with at the time, but knew I wanted something different with this birth. I decided to work with a local midwifery group that I knew Melissa worked with often. It was a super-combo for me. 

Melissa is always there with a supportive shoulder when needed, let us know what our options could be and suggested strategies to make the most of my labor experience. She and my husband also developed a strong relationship where he could reach out to her for ways to best support me. I am so grateful to have had This amazing woman attend both of my children’s births. 

Posted 8/13/2018

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Jamie Brownstein

If I become pregnant again, I will reach out to Melissa the MINUTE we find out!

My husband and I hired Melissa for both birth and post partum hours, and she is exactly what we needed for our journey. Neither of us have been around many babies, and so this lack of experience was a stressor for us. Just knowing Melissa would be there once our daughter was born was PRICELESS. After each meeting with Melissa, I was left feeling more and more confident and excited for the arrival of our baby. Melissa somehow was able to both validate any of our concerns, and then say just the right thing to help calm any anxieties. I truly believe a huge part of the reason I had such a joyous and (mostly) calm pregnancy was due to Melissa being a text or call away at all times.

I don’t even know how to describe the chaos of my birth. Without getting into details I’ll just say: My doctor didn’t show up in time for the arrival of our daughter and pretty much every other staff member in the hospital room (there were A LOT) was shouting conflicting instructions at me. I was able to whole-heartedly trust Melissa, and I just focused on her guidance until the moment I was able to hold my little girl in my arms.

Since birth, Melissa’s support has continued to be exactly what we need whenever we have questions. She is both extremely warm and knowledgeable-two traits that have been invaluable to during this amazing roller-coaster ride of parenthood.

Posted 5/30/2018

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Jennifer Rinaldi

My experience with Melissa was hands down the absolute best decision I ever made! Initially, I was fairly naive about doulas and their role in the birthing process. It was only upon numerous suggestions from my sister in law, who had a working relationship with Melissa, that I eventually decided to meet Melissa and see what she was all about. Looking back I was beyond fortunate to contact Melissa just before she booked up!  I loved my OB practice and was confident they had my best interests in mind throughout pregnancy and delivery. I thought "Well I have a team of doctors that will be there to help me, why would I need anyone else?" I really thought that doulas were for women looking for all natural home birth experiences and that was not at all what I was wanted. Upon my first meeting with Melissa, she explained everything. She explained her role as a doula, the different situations and birthing practices she can assist with and had an answer for every silly seemingly crazy fear I had. Melissa has this unwavering confidence and an ultra calm presence paired with an extensive wealth of knowledge about the birthing process. Melissa was exactly what I needed for this birth to be a successful VBAC. As testament to her greatness, Melissa knew my fear from my first birth was the pushing phase. I ended up needing a C-section with my son because of a positioning issue and "maxing" out the pushing time limit for the hospital. With my daughter, when I was 10 cm dilated, the nurses and doctors suggested pushing. This immediately struck fear into my mind and I had visions of the baby being stuck AGAIN. Melissa quietly and calmly gave me an alternative. She told me to trust my body. So I did. Watching the monitors, the baby began descending on its own, which was incredible. One thing I'll never forget was Melissa leaned down and whispered "I see her hair" and at that exact moment I knew, with her help, I was going to deliver this baby the way I wanted to! 

Posted 5/30/2018

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Laura Beth Collinson

My partner abd I recently hired Melissa for her doula services and any expectations we had for a doula were greatly surpasse. I always dreamed of having a doula for at least my first pregnancy and it was my one request to my par when we got pregnan. From our very first conversation on the phone i knew doula match put me with the right person and i felt a connectio. Melissa worked with us through our entire pregnancy, listening to our needs and desires. When my wishes were not being honored by my provider at 37 weeks Pregnant, Melissa worked really hard to get me with a practice she knew would be a better fit. She is extremely passionate about being a doula and has a ton of informatioN. I aiways  felt informed by her and than left to make our own decisions as a couple. I felt really honored and loved the entire time during my 43 hour labor and melissa did an incredible job supporting my partner through labor as well. I know that i would have never been able to have the loving experience i had during labor without melissa. She means so much to our family and continues to support me to this day. She is a remarkable woman that I look up to and has inspired me into my journey of motherhood. 

Posted 5/19/2018

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Kathy Glass

I had a complicated and emotional experience with our first pregnancy (resulting in a loss), so my husband and I wanted to hire a doula to help us navigate a hospital birth and full term pregnancy. From the first moment we met Melissa, we knew we wanted her on our team. She is warm and kind, professional and very knowledgeable in her field, calm and reassuring, down to earth and overall a lovely human being — all of the qualities you could ever want in a doula. Melissa was always available to talk me through my worries and to answer my questions. We had an unexpected trip to the hospital during my second trimester, and Melissa talked me through it on the phone and then met us at the hospital. She came to our house to get to know us and discuss our birth plan and labor techniques on multiple occasions. With Melissa by my side I was able to labor at home and have a natural childbirth at the hospital. My birth experience was exactly what I wanted and she was there for my husband and I every step of the way. If you are on the fence about spending the money or "needing" a doula, I urge you to do it and hire Melissa. It was the best decision we made during my pregnancy. Melissa, thank you for everything! Love, The Glass Family

Posted 5/11/2018

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Clinesha Harris

Words cannot begin to express my gratitude for whom I will always emphatically refer to as “my Doula,” Melissa. Her coaching, support, and ability to embrace the human condition are noteworthy. Having her apart of such a special time in my life was invaluable. She goes the extra mile, and is clearly not invloved in this work for any selfish reasons. Her passion and calling is apparent and well-received. As a practitioner, I realize that having a patient -centered approach is imperative. However, I am even more convinced of its effectiveness having been on the “patient” side of things. The courage and confidence I developed as a first time Mom has been truly remarkable. The education I received from Melissa has been much needed and is ongoing. My first experience having a baby was a blessing. I had a wonderful pregnancy and a “straight to the point” labor and delivery (All of which was documented).  Melissa was present for all of it. She adapted to my cultural, emotional, and intellectual needs as a woman and child-bearer.  She acted as a vehicle to getting me the biggest blessing from God I have ever received and she did it with grace. Melissa listened to my needs and advocated for them being met. Because of this, she will always be “my Doula,” and will have a special place in my heart and in my family. A bond that will stand the test of time. Can’t wait for baby #2!

 

-Clinesha D. Johnson, Psy.D. 

Posted 5/4/2018

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Jennese B

People have asked me why I needed a doula. I had apprenticed as a doula & served in a supporting role for so many family/ friends in their births. I carried with me the personal experiences of 4 miscarriages and the blessing of 5 beautiful births. I knew birth. What they didn’t know was that since the birth of our 5th child I had come to know loss, so much loss. The loss that was especially heartbreaking was that of my sweet Nephew/Godson at the age of 13. I chose to help my family in their grief while avoiding mine. When I became pregnant those hormones that were working together so beautifully to create the miracle of life, were a force of destruction on the dam I had built. Just like that all the ugly came flooding out. My grief suddenly overwhelmed me greater than my joy. I felt weak and broken. I knew my husband and I were going to need extra care and support. I needed a doula and it had to be Melissa. She always knew when to save space for me, when to sit in my grief with me, when to kick me in my behind, when to push me to question my truth, when I needed to breathe. By the time our son's birth came around, I felt strong. I felt connected to my body, my baby, my husband, and my God. Melissa had done everything that I needed to get me to a place where I could feel empowered again. This isn’t a birth story so I won't share all the details of the birth of our amazing baby boy but there are a few things I want to share. Melissa fiercely supported all of my choices even if she wouldn’t have made them for herself. When my son had issues breathing at birth, my husband went to be by his side. Melissa was WITH me. When our little Santino let out his first cry, I saw the tears in her eyes and the smile in her face, I knew beyond a doubt that Melissa had invested so much more into getting me to that moment than I could have ever asked her for, dreamed of, or placed a value on. Melissa truly was a blessing to our family of 8.

 

Posted 3/26/2018

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Rebecca Sheppard

Melissa listens, she supports your choices and she is a phenomenal resource. She never pushed her opinions on me. She did a fantastic job helping me to sort out my own preferences and then standing by me when the time came. I am a very sensitive person and she never made me feel like I was bothering her with a silly question or concern.
When I went into labor, I had no idea how much I would need Melissa. Although my labor was quick and uneventful physically, it was emotional draining and my confidence was shaken from a tense situation with the midwife who attended my birth. Melissa was my rock. She supported me when I felt like I was falling apart from the tension. She answered my questions. She kept track of what was happening. She offered gentle suggestions and helped moved my labor along quickly. She advised me of a good time to get into the birthing tub. When I couldn’t take the heat, she quickly got cool wash clothes for me which felt like absolute heaven. When I told her, I was scared of the next contraction, she comforted me and promised me I could do it - and I believed her. She helped me find the right position to push in. She did all of this in the face of a difficult situation with a midwife who was telling her what to do and treating her with little respect. She did not let any of that tension show; she seemed perfectly calm and at ease which was exactly what I needed. I will forever be grateful for Melissa’s support. In the days and weeks following Melissa was available for a million breastfeeding questions. She also knew that I did not want to sacrifice everything for breastfeeding and she kept checking in with me to make sure that I was doing what I wanted and not just being pressured by medical providers or others. She really was a voice of reason and support through the entire process.Melissa knows more about pregnancy, birth, post-partum issues and breastfeeding than anyone I know. 

Posted 2/16/2018

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Ismim Shartmas Shekilli

Melissa  is very supportive  doula. She was fighting with me when I asked for another csec while I'm in labor.she didn't  let me do it.and so I could do my vba2c successfully.and I'm very happy that I could do that.thank you melissa. (Madina)

Posted 2/11/2018

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Heidi Granner

I'm incredibly grateful for Melissa's support me as I welcomed my first child.

I didn't realize how nervous I was about labor and delivery until feeling my stress levels subside in the initial meeting with Melissa and her doula partner, Lisa. I knew I would be in fabulous hands and have tremendous support along the way.  

While I ended up having a scheduled c-section due to a breech position, the support I received from Melissa before, during, and after my daughter's birth made the service well worth it. She quickly answered my (million) text messages and always helped me problem solve so many challenges / questions with each visit before and after our daughter's birth.

Melissa is incredibly knowledgeable, patient, and intuitive. I strongly recommend her doula services. 

Posted 1/20/2018

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Audrey Beatty

Melissa assisted me with the birth of my second child at Hartford Hospital in September 2017 and I truly cannot say enough good things about her.  From the moment I met her at our first in-person consultation to the post-partum visits in my home, she balanced professionalism and warmth with ease. Her disarming sense of humor and frank, yet tactful honesty made me feel like I was in the company of a trusted friend, but her efficencieny and resposiveness let me know I was dealing with a pro. She not only made me feel confident in her ability to support me, but she helped me to feel confident in my own ability to achieve the med-free birth that I hoped for (I had had an epidural with my first). As a woman with a long history of anxiety. depression, and incredibly low self-esteem, that self-assuredness was such a gift and it's something that undoubtedly had a positive effect on my birth experience, recovery, AND will be something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. However, what I think truly sets Melissa apart and makes her a fantastic doula is her obvious and earnest desire to serve her clients as completely as possible. She was available to me at all hours of the day and night throughout my pregnancy, and repeatedly assured me I was never inconveniencing her. She took the time to get to know me, insisting I contact her with even what I considered the "stupidest" concerns and questions, and I grew to trust her implicitly. She offered honest opinions when I asked for them, but never forced her beliefs on me and was always extremely respectful of my own. And when "go time" came, Melissa was there for both me and my husband, constantly present but never overbearing in the delivery room - she empowered me to direct my experience in a way I know I wouldn't have had the confidence to without her. To say that I'm grateful is an understatement! I'd recommend her highly to anyone that asked.

Posted 1/18/2018

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cody cuni

Melissa is a wonderful doula.  She will advocate for you tirelessly.  From the moment we met I knew I had an expert in my corner.  Her extensive knowledge put me at ease.  She will never make you feel judged or silly for asking questions.  I could tell or ask her anything.

I was planning another home birth with our 4th child.  I never considered hiring a doula however as my pregnancy progressed I became increasingly uncomfortable with my midwife.  I was also afraid I would not have any support if I was tranfered to a hospital.  Melissa came highly recommended.  I needed to be induced at 42 weeks at Yale.  Melissa made sure the staff respected my wishes for as natural a birth as possible.  

She also provided excellent support after the birth.  She made sure everything was ok and got me the help I needed to manage my depression.

Saying I highly recommend Melissa is an understatement.  Nurturing women is her calling.

Posted 1/16/2018

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Victoria Andersen

Melissa is a fiercely passionate birth worker. She went out of her way to get me into a practice that supported my unique mono/di twin birth wants/needs. She is held in high regard in many hospitals around CT and this invaluable when emergencies or surprises arise. She has a strange sixth sense that comes in handy! She is great when it comes to asking many questions and comes to a check-up if you need the extra support (like me). She will not let you be bullied by anyone and will make sure there is a private moment with just the two of you if need be. Her warmth and confidence overflow and fill you when you are uncertain. She does not judge and gives you the confidence you need during labor. She gently guided me into the mama warrior she saw in me while I was in the thick of my medically induced labor and it got me the unmedicated vaginal twin birth that may not have been possible if she was not my advocate for the practice I needed. My husband and new additions are eternally grateful to not only Melissa but her amazing back-up doula Lisa Falkner. I highly recommend Melissa for anyone who may "risk out" of a homebirth due to multiples.  

Posted 1/16/2018

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Anne Head

We met Melissa at a speed-date-a-Doula event and I knew right away she was the right choice for me and my family. I felt at ease with her and could sense that she could provide kind and effective support for the remainder of my pregnancy and subsequent homebirth. Melissa is very knowledgeable about all aspects of pregnancy and birth as well as helpful providers and resources for families. She was able to help me advocate for myself when receiving lack luster midwifery care and also helped me to jumpstart labor when I was approaching 42 weeks and in danger of risking out of my planned homebirth.
Her expertise was indispensable when there were complications during my son’s birth.
I cannot say say enough good things about my experience with Melissa. It was the best decision I made for my labor.
Also I cannot forget to mention the photos she took of the birth are breathtakingly beautiful and I will treasure them forever.
If you want kind, knowledgeable, and genuine support from someone that will honor your choices and your process, look no further. This is the Doula you want and she will help you have the birth that you envision for yourself and your growing family.

Posted 12/28/2017

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Christina McLamb

I contacted Melissa within days of getting a positive test, she was great through everything, giving me advice about MS, helping me with Lyme diagnosis in my third trimester, breach positioning at 36w, talking me through contractions on the phone on her way to the house, and even after the birth helping my family through a rough patch. She has really been a blessing. 

Melissa was a great support through my 4th pregnancy, helping with my anxieties, calming when problems arose, and rejoicing with me when it all worked out. She is an amazing person a phenomenal doula. 

Posted 12/7/2017

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Katie Kyle

Melissa is everything that I could've ever asked for as my doula for my VBAC; she is the perfect combination of best friend + mother + coach figure.  She was always there for me throughout pregnancy, the entire time preparing for induction, l&d, and has been an amazing part of my postpartum support system too.  She is full of knowledge from an insiders' perspective.  I had taken the Bradley Method classes, was very well educated about the birth from a mother's perspective, but it was so helpful to hear Melissa's insight on what to expect and why, as it related more specifically to my situation/team, etc.  Additionally, there was lots of down time while I was in triage for pre-eclampsia and waiting for the induction to begin, and she is so wonderful to pass the time with during the lulls. 

One of the common misconceptions about doulas is that they might replace the partner's role as the primary support person, but Melissa was there for the both of us.  She and my husband worked as a team; she'd try tricks to help me through labor and when she found what worked for me, she taught my husband to take over.  And it was incredibly comforting knowing that either one of them could take a break and I was still fully supported. 

I also loved how savvy and dedicated to her job she is.  She is set up as a provider to get paid by a flexible healthcare spending account, which I never would have thought to do without her advice.  She has a doula partner so you know who your backup will be.  She and Lisa are a great match, and I would have been grateful to have her as my doula too if Melissa were unable to attend.  Melissa has a beautiful family of her own, and is blessed to have an amazing support system to allow her to 120% commit to her doula clients.  She is truly passionate about her career and it's reflected in every interaction I've ever experienced with her <3 

Posted 9/12/2017

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Emily Courtney

Melissa was my doula for my third baby, and she was fantastic. First of all, she came directly from a multiple day labor straight to mine (they were at the same hospital, thankfully!) which in and of itself shows her dedication. My labor was short but intense, and she was with me the entire time. She used massage, breathed with me, and supported me in every way I needed to get through my contractions. When I began pushing, it turned out my son had shoulder dystocia and it was an emergency. Melissa stayed calm through the whole thing, encouraging me the entire way, and after he was born and resucitated she stayed with me while my son was taken to the NICU so that my husband could go with him. She helped me to understand what had just happened as I wasn't aware of what was going on during his birth. She helped me to latch him on once he was able to leave the NICU, and really helped me to process everything that happened during the birth. She was available to me via text any hour of the day, long before my due date and afterward, and I believe without having her there I wouldn't have been able to process everything. I would recommend her to anyone seeking a doula - she truly cares about her clients, believes in what she does, and was made for this. 

Posted 3/3/2017

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Alexis Taylor

I hired Melissa for my second birth. I was up-in-the-air about having a doula for my second child since I was able to labor and birth naturally with my first (I had a different doula then). But knowing how different birth experiences can be and the medical profession's profitinity for birth interventions, I decided to err on the side of caution.

I made the right decision as some minor medical complications arose later in my pregnancy that required weekly monitoring. There was concern I would have to be induced several weeks early, but fortunately I was able to reach 40 weeks before the midwife and doctors felt I should proceed no more.

I was scheduled for an induction two days later. I expected the induction to go much like my first induction- get the cervadil, water would break and go into labor on my own and have my child by the next morning and never have to receive pitocin! But my second labor did not go like my first at all. It was a snails pace in comparison and it rattled me. But Melissa was the perfect complement to this new and unexpected experience. 

She was there to suggest alternatives to pitocin that the OB took seriously and eventually worked. She suggested to the RN that I needed a light breakfast, to which the OB changed my dietary orders and allowed me a small meal (absolute lifesaver- I needed the protein!!) She was there to keep me calm when I began to doubt the progression of the labor and she was there when my labor suddenly and furiously took flight. 

I wouldn't change a thing about my labor experience, especially about Melissa as my doula and her support that helped me to achieve a second natural childbirth.

Posted 3/2/2017

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Lauren Marotta

I honestly don't know what I would have done witbout Melissa. As a FTM with high anxiety, I was able to relax once I hired Melissa. She was available 24/7 to answer any of my questions/concerns and put my mind at ease throughout my pregnancy. When it came time for baby arrive, she was just as supportive as my husband (and actually helped him relax by being an extra support with maternal experience). Throughout labor, she helped mentally ease pain as well as being hands on. She respected every decision made and offered her best advice when asked. I am so thankful for Melissa being present during the birth of my child and guiding me and showing me the strength I didn't know I had.

Posted 2/28/2017

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Girija Madishetty

" A doula can change your labor "

Melissa is a fabulous doula, she is very knowledgeable and friendly.My labor was not as anticipated, I went through 18hrs labor , she supported me right from the starting until my baby arrived.After my delivery I was feeling depressed with some things, but every time when I share my things with Melissa she gave me positive energy and made me feel normal.Me and my family are very much impressed with her.I am so glad that I choosed Melissa as my doula, I strongly believe and advice every pregnant women to hire a doula.

Posted 11/16/2016

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Kate Foran

Melissa was my doula when I gave birth to my second child. My first experience with childbirth left me feeling something less than empowered (water broke, but I had no contractions, so I submitted to pitocin & epidural & some belittling comments from the on-call doc).  But with Melissa's help my waterbirth with my second baby felt redemptive, healing, and liberating.  I think the most helpful thing for me was Melissa's availabilty through the end of pregnancy.  I could check in with her (often via text, which was perfect) with questions that I might worry were bothering my midwives. I knew she had a wealth of knowledge and experience (both personally and in her capacity as a doula), so it was always reassuring to get her feedback and support.  She was the one who confirmed for me that, yes, labor had actually started--even though I was timing contractions at home myself (not to mention feeling them), I still doubted it!  She could tell things were happening over the phone and decided to come see me for herself, and it was not a moment too soon.  She waited with me while my husband made his way home from work, and met us at the entrance to the hospital, and just four hours later I delivered my baby girl in the blessed heat & weightlessness of the tub!  I went into "don't touch me" mode during labor, and Melissa respected all my wishes.  She was a solid, gracious presence but never intrusive for me or my husband.  She even discreetly took some pictures, for which I am so grateful. 

 

A good doula is someone who can sit with your fear and anxiety and check it against the strength of all the women giving birth she has witnessed.   Melissa's presence at my daughter's birth (along with the company of nurses and midwives) seemed to call forth that strength for me, and help me go inward and find it in myself.  I am still in awe!

Posted 11/15/2016

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Amy Rapone

Melissa was an absolutely integral part of our experience in becoming new parents. From pregnancy to labor to post-partum, I knew she was a reliable resource to bounce ideas or concerns off of. She never pressured us into any decision, but always made sure we thoroughly knew what our options were. She made my husband feel  comfortable, especially during the labor process where he was most nervous. She never made him feel like he wasn't part of it all. She's extremely knowledgable, realistic and is there to 100% support your decisions at any part of the process. My birth didn't go 100% as planned (whose does??), but she helped make me feel at peace with the choices and compromises I was able to make. 

Working with Melissa has made me always recommend a doula to any pregnant mom. Every mom deserves a supportive spokesperson, and Melissa would be our number one pick every time! 

Posted 7/21/2016

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monika bhardwaj

Right from very starting of my pregnancy, I was confused whether I should hire a doula or not, as I was a first time mom, I was so tensed and scared of labor and delivery. Whenever  I was looking for a doula- prices were out of my pocket. Then I found Mellissa and talked to her. She was so calm, understanding, caring, knowledgeable and friendly that I became totally satisfied with my choice. She also agreed to a manageable amount and also calmed and handled me so nicely that things became easy for me. We were always in contact with each other through messaging and call, that she never left me unattended. Then my labor started and it startled with my mucus plug coming out. I was experiencing blood every time I was going to restroom. This could be scary for me if Mellissa wouldn't be there. Then next day my contractions started from early morning. But I was so confident and handling them with fun. It was my birthday and I was busy the whole day in celebrations and contractions.. as Mellissa was there to handle me. At night finally things became intense around 11, Melissa was rubbing my back and strengthening me. Then at 12 am we headed to hospital. And at 1:29 am on March 13 my baby was in my arms. This was truly beautiful moment for us. I am so much thankful to Mellissa. She is also providing my postpartum suppor wholeheartedy. She not only answers my questions related to me but also cares so much for my baby that always solves my queries related to her as well. I am so proud of my decision of choosing her that I refer her to everyone and I will say that everyone should hire a doula. With having her I can give birth again and again, I have so much positive experience....

Posted 3/30/2016

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Stephanie DeCampos

If you are thinking about hiring a doula... Do it!!! If you are ready to hire a doula, hire Melissa Duenas!! After having had 4 previous births resulting in 5 children (one set of twins!) everyone joked that I could manage the last birth all on my own at home. Well, as funny as it was, it wasn't true at all. There was no way I would have been able to vaginally deliver the last set of twins unmedicated, without the support, encouragement and strength that Melissa provided.

This was a surrogate pregnancy, and with a teen and toddler at home I was worried that my husband wouldnt be able to be present for the birth of these twins. The IFs(intended fathers) of the twins promised to be there for the entire process, but lets be honest. As much as we had connected over the course of the 9 months I was carrying their children they weren't MY partners. They didn't have an inate ability to anticipate my needs before I knew I needed them. Melissa did. They didn't have a relationship with the labor and delivery staff at MMH. Melissa did. They didn't know just where to rub when the back labor started, and couldnt tell I was transitioning just by the way my moan changed. Melissa did. She held my hand and insisted I could do it even when I wanted to give up. All the while being attentive to the needs of the TWO dads in the room as well. Answering questions, calming their anxiety, and showing them ways that they could support me when they weren't quite sure what to do. When they were quietly huddled in the corner of the room up by the head of my hosptial bed as I pushed, Melissa was by my side, holding up my leg and giving me the encouragement to keep pushing. And when that first baby was born, and the guys headed over to see her for the first time, take pics and swoon Melissa was by my side helping me transition again to prepare for the second babies arrival. That unwavering support continued thru my postpartum and I am forever grateful for her presence! 

Posted 2/16/2016

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Christine Mullaney

I was matched with Melissa through a volunteer doula program when I was pregnant with my 2nd son.  I immediately connected with her.  She was very compassionate, and informed about the choices I could make.  She kept in contact with me throughout my pregnancy,  and attended a drs appt with me when I presented my birth plan.  In early labor,  I talked with her throughout the day.  She met me at the hospital, and I felt calmer as soon as she arrived.  She was a great support throughout - making sure I was comfortable,  getting everything I needed. It was wonderful to know I had her on my team.

So,  naturally,  when I found myself pregnant again when my son was 10 months old, my experience with Melissa was one of the first things I thought of. I asked if she would be my doula again,  and without hesitation she accepted. Again- I immediately felt calmer. When I went in to labor,  it was a long,  drawn out several days of not knowing what was really happening.  Melissa was always checking in, putting my (unknown)  schedule before her own.  She met me at the hospital when I thought I was *for sure* in labor,  and later that night,  met me at my house before going to the hospital for the 2nd time.  Again,  she stayed with me the entire time- making sure all of my needs were met. She was so committed and empathetic.  Yet, she let me own my experience both times.  She faded into the background when she needed to, and seemed to know right when her presence was needed.  Whether it was for encouragement, a (hundred) hip squeezes,  or chapstick. Melissa has a way about her- she is reassuring,  rational,  and honest.  That was exactly what I needed in a doula.  

 

 

Posted 2/9/2016

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Victoria Brown

Melissa was my doula at the birth of my second son, and was so very caring, reliable, and strong for me when I needed her reasurance. My first birth experience was a traumatic one and I had much anxiety about the giving birth again. Anytime I needed to talk she was there for me, always knowing exactly what to say. When it came time to give birth, she was my rock! She was very knowledgeable about the labor process and she helped me get through the toughest contractions with the many ideas she had to keep me as comfortable  possible. Even through a transfer from home to the hospital she helped make it an easy and smooth transition. I truly believe she is the reason I had such an amazing birth experience with my second baby, and I look foward to her being with me at my next birth! I recommend her to anyone I know who is looking for a doula!! 

Posted 2/9/2016

Birth Availability for Melissa Duenas

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Postpartum Availability for Melissa Duenas

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