Gretchen Retka Photo

Gretchen Retka

Holistic Sister

Website: https://www.xochitlinnerg.com

Phone: 2188517556

Birth Fee: $1000 to $1800

Postpartum Rate: $30 to $35

Fee Details: Birth Support includes 1) 2 Prenatal Visits in home visits packed with information & support for birth plan building and preparing for birth from a Holistic perspective 2) On call 24/7 @ 38 weeks by phone 3) Continuous Labor and Delivery Support until at least 2 hours after birth 4) 2 Postpartum visits, the initial visit @ 24hrs after birth and the second visit in the comfort of your home 4-7 days after birth with support from a Holistic place of care.

Birth Doula Experience: 7 years and 60 births attended

Postpartum Doula Experience: 2 years and 13 families served

Birth Doula Certifications

  • toLabor - Certified Professional Birth Doula

Doula Training

  • The Organization of Labor Assistants for Birth Options & Resources (toLabor), February 2012
Type of Practice: Solo practice

Clients per Month: 1 to 4

Attends hospital births? All Hospitals
Attends birth center births? All Birth Centers
Attends home births? Any Home Birth

Other Relevant Certifications

  • CPR Certified - Red Cross
  • Reiki Practitioner
  • 350+ hours Certified Yoga Teacher, Spinning Babies trained, Trustline Certified

College Education

  • BA/BS

Specialized training or previous experience

  • Addiction Recovery
  • Cesarean birth
  • Clients on bed rest
  • Domestic Violence
  • Families conceiving with ART and IVF
  • High risk
  • Home Birth
  • Induced and high medical technology labor & birth
  • LGBTQP Families
  • Over 40
  • Plus size mothers
  • Postpartum mood disorders
  • Prematurity
  • Remote and rural clients birthing away from home
  • Single parents
  • Spanish Speaking
  • Special needs babies
  • Surrogacy
  • Survivors of Previous Life Trauma
  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse
  • Teens
  • VBAC
  • Waterbirth
  • Women and Families of Color

Special Services Offered

  • Acupressure
  • Aromatherapy
  • ASL (American Sign Language)
  • Baby sign language education
  • Babywearing education
  • Belly casting
  • Henna belly designs
  • Placenta encapsulation
  • Pregnancy, birth and/or newborn photography
  • TENS units rental

Relevant volunteer or advocacy work

Active Member of Birth Network of Santa Cruz, Doulas By The Bay, LUMA Prenatal Yoga teacher, Full Moon Family Wellness & Birth Center-Santa Cruz, CA www.fullmoonbirthing.com, Blossom Provider, Currently serving Spanish Outreach of The Birth Network Of Monterey Volunteer Doula services part of the Collective Wings Perinatal Project-Santa Cruz, CA Completed Internship with Everyday Miracles non-profit serving at-risk Mothers in birth Professional Guest speaker on birth topics

Languages spoken: English, ASL, basis español, a little Lakota, Shona, Indonesian, Nahuatl,

Service Area Map

Area of practice: Santa Cruz, CA
Travel Range: 60 Miles

Certifications for Gretchen Retka

Click a certification thumbnail to view the full size image.

Certification

Learn more about evaluating doula certifications, an important part of the interview process.

Report any issues or concerns with certification images.

Client Testimonials for Gretchen Retka

get a Gravatar

Jade

Gretchen is warm, encouraging and strong in mind, body, and spirit. We can't thank Gretchen enough for her doula services. After the initial phone call to get things going, she gave us work to do and helped us write a detailed birthplan to think through what we really wanted: better position for baby, labor support, birth plan advocate at hospital. For the birth plan, she patiently translated all the hospital procedures to help us make better decisions for our plan. During labor, she encouraged me to keep moving thru our exercises to turn the baby even when I wanted to curl into a ball and forget everything we practiced. If it weren't for Gretchen, I'm 100% certain I'd be laying on my back in the hospital way before it was necessary. Because of her, we got to labor at home and went straight to hospital for a couple minutes of pushing. While my husband and I were enamored by new baby, Gretchen stayed focused, talking to hospital staff, helped me with latching. She visited us a couple more times at home to help us settle in and dropped off amazing lactation cookies that I loved eating everyday. Thanks, Gretchen, for having faith in me when I lost hope. 

Posted 8/6/2019

get a Gravatar

Annie Ma-Weaver

Gretchen was an incredible resource both during pregnancy and labor & delivery. She schlepped up to our home in SF from Santa Cruz for multiple prenatal visits and gave us timely advice on natural ways (e.g. stretches, massage techniques, herbal supplements) to address my pregnancy discomfort. She even came with us to a prenatal appointment in our third trimester to make sure that our OB reviewed our birth plan, which we wrote with her help, and answered all our questions ahead of L&D.

During early labor, Gretchen expertly coached us through ways to help turn the baby into a better position and pass the time. We wound up laboring for 41 hours total and I'm convinced that we achieved our goal of a vaginal birth largely thanks to Gretchen's support and guidance. She talked us through difficult moments in early labor, including when we were stuck at 4 cm dilated for many hours. When I opted for an epidural and then used Pitocin to augment my labor, Gretchen talked me through the pros and cons and then fully supported my decisions. Throughout my labor at the hospital, Gretchen made sure to check on my comfort level - securing extra pillows or alerting the medical team when she noticed me in pain and keeping the birth suite's lights dimmed and refilling my water bottle to keep me hydrated - and advocated for my needs when I was unable to due to the intensity of my contractions.

The medical team praised our birth plan for its clarity, context and conciseness and asked to use it in an upcoming conference talk about optimal birth plans. We were able to craft this document thanks to Gretchen's guidance and feedback, which was excellent.

Last but not least, Gretchen came to our home the day after we were discharged to check on us and bring lactation cookies.

My husband Jacob and I are highly satisfied with our pregnancy and birth experience and credit Gretchen for helping us through the process and emerge content. 

Posted 4/18/2019

get a Gravatar

Kaitlyn

Hiring Gretchen as my doula was 100% the best decision I made during my pregnancy, and my husband agrees. He was skeptical at first, but after seeing how much she cared about me and my birth plan, he was won over and is now recommending her to everyone he meets. During the pregnancy, she met with me twice and gave us invaluable information and resources. We met a third time to go on a walk. During the birth, her guidance helped my husband feel better about the process and enabled him to help me as well. Without her presence at the birth, I think I would have deviated from my birth plan after about ten minutes. She gave me the strength I needed to get through and have a birth experience that was so much better than I ever expected. She stayed with me a while after the birth and helped in any way she could, including spoon feeding me food I didn't even know I needed. She is an expert at anticipating what you need. She stopped by my house two days later and brought me amazing lactation cookies and brewed me herbal tea. She saw I was tense so massaged my neck and shoulders. I've never had another doula, but I'm pretty confident Gretchen is the best, and definitely recommend her to anyone looking for an amazing pregnancy and birth! We love you Gretchen!!!! 

Posted 4/3/2019

get a Gravatar

s p

As a second time mom, who did not have a doula the first time around, I really wanted my second labor experience to be a positive one, and one where I could actively have a voice with the hospital careproviders. My first labor ended with my daughter in the NICU, and I just didn't know when and how to ask questions to find out what was going on, and I didn't end up getting to hold my daughter until 7 hours after I had her, which I found out later could have been very different if I had just spoken up.

So my second time around, I wanted a doula to help support me and my family through the experience. I interviewed several doulas, but I felt the most comfortable and at ease with Gretchen. She gave my family a lot of information up front, which was great for someone like me, who wanted to make this experience different. I was someone who was open to either trying natural birth or having an epidural, and she was great at supporting me whichever direction I wanted to go in and planning for both scenaorios.

During labor, she was great at making me smile and laugh through the contraction pain with all sorts of different things from songs to funny pictures. She also had several suggestions and techniques for helping me manage the pain as well. Best of all, she helped me find my voice when I needed to speak to the nurses and doctors and ask questions, and my labor ended with me getting to hold my second daughter right away. I especially appreciated the postpartum visits from Gretchen, where we spoke about healing, and when back over my labor expereince so I could remember it and write it down for my daughter. Bonus - her lactation cookies she made were amazing! 

I loved how grounded in nature and holistic perspective Gretchen is and that made my experience with her great.

Posted 1/28/2019

get a Gravatar

Olga Garcia

As a first time Mom going through pregnancy and (the part that I was dreading the most) labor, all I could think of leading up to D-Day was having a peaceful and stress free delivery for our baby. Gretchen was the perfect guide to help my husband and I through this incredible journey. She was everything I was hoping for in a doula and more. She coached us on the anatomical process of labor, what to expect from the hospital, how to keep my state of mind clear and calm during the delivery and what to expect coming home in those first few days.

As a self proclaimed type A individual who wanted nothing more than to do the complete opposite of my natural tendencies during labor, Gretchen was the captain of my support team on the day of. She brought a sense of calmness and confidence to the room that helped my would have been nervous husband and sister to emulate Gretchen's energy. She was by my side at every moment. One of the things I most appreciated was her ability to discern when I needed my space, a boost of confidence, family bonding time or something else. Once our baby was born, she sang him a beautiful Native American birthday song welcoming him to this world.

I never though I would say this because I was so scared going into the labor portion of pregnancy, especially before working with Gretchen...I had an incredibly wonderful birthing experience. Thanks to Gretchen and her innate abilities as a doula, I am excited to have more babies with her by our side. Gretchen not only brings joy, experience and confidence to the parents, she brings peace, love and joy to the baby as well.

Posted 1/25/2019

get a Gravatar

Kristina Nickerson

 Initially we had hired another doula prior to Gretchen and things did not work out with her, so I interviewed a few more Doula's and didn't quite hit it off with anyone. I was 8 months pregnant and basically gave up about finding a doula becuase of how far along I was. Gretchen was referred to us by a friend of my husband's. From our very first phone conversation I felt at ease (and we hadn't even met yet)  Gretchen drove down and met me at a local Starbucks and from the moment we met, I knew she was the Doula for me. She is SO very passionate about her job, and extremely knowledgeable. Being a first time Mom, I wanted someone who I could trust being there with my husband and I in the delivery room. Gretchen was quick to answer any and all of my questions and was there for me via text/ call if I needed support. Gretchen came to my house twice prior to me giving birth to go over my birth plan, spinning babies methods and my wishes. She is very open minded and is all about what the client wants, she gives her best advise to make sure that you make the right decision for YOU! My due date came and went ( I was 12 days late) and Gretchen would text me to check in on me to see how I was doing. At 40 weeks pregnant, I was starting to get antsy and ready to meet my baby. At 41 weeks 5 days I was induced, Gretchen was at the hospital with me the entire time I was in labor and for even a couple hours post labor. I believe she ended up being there for around 15 hours and never once showed signs of exhaustion, stayed totally engaged with me the whole time and did various techniques  to help me cope through each contraction. I could not have gotten through labor like I did if it wasn't for Gretchen, I am forever grateful she is part of my birth story. If baby number 2 comes in the future, I already know who I will be calling for doula support :)

Posted 1/22/2019

get a Gravatar

Amy G. Latham

Having Gretchen attend our birth was one of the best decisions my husband and I ever made. The prenatal appointments were invaluable; she is wise beyond her years and has an impressive level of insight and expertise around issues of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum experience. She is also authentic and compassionate with expectant moms & dads, which makes it easy to discuss fears and concerns as well as hopes and plans for childbirth. Her approach is a mix of modern, evidence-based birth practices and timeless holistic techniques. This was great in my case, as I wanted to experience natural childbirth in a hospital setting but have always been squeamish about hospitals. I did not want my very natural birth process to be treated as strictly medical, and she helped provide a necessary balance. I honestly don't think I could have gone through natural childbirth without her encouragement, unwavering support, and fearlessness. We feel very lucky to have had Gretchen as our brith doula, and now we and our 3-day old daughter are getting to enjoy Gretchen's postpartum visits complete with herbal teas, lactation cookies, sitz bath treatments, and excellent being-with-baby advice. It hasn't been easy, but so worthwhile! I'd recommend Gretchen highly to anyone looking for support during pregnancy and beyond.

Posted 9/11/2018

get a Gravatar

Omar Kurdi

Coming from a man’s perspective, hiring a Doula is very odd. From a financial argument, it even makes it worse. My wife insisted on it and found Gretchen through Harmony, a baby center. When I first met Gretchen, I tried having a completely open mind but I was skeptical. After spending an hour with her, I understood why my wife felt so safe and secure, completely trusting she would be in great hands when the moment came. Gretchen was a wealth of knowledge; she is THE Wikipedia of birthing in so many ways. Her knowledge is really only the half of it... having someone by your side that’s witnessed births numerous times is invaluable. Anyone can read how to drive a car, but would you feel  comfortable getting in one without someone by your side guiding you on your first ride? Well, perhaps that’s not a totally fare argument, but you catch my drift. Going into my son’s birth with her by our side was comforting. She was like a coach that could call the plays in case we were nervous, or too brain dead to know what to do. To put it bluntly, she’s the insurance policy you’ll cash and thank the good Lord you did it! NOTHING truly describes what happens on game day! NOTHING! Gretchen was an angel from the time my wife’s water broke till our baby was 2 weeks old. We truly couldn’t have done it without her. 

From the moment the water broke, I called her at 1:30AM almost every other hour (and yes, she did pick up the phone), and she guided us through everything. I can’t explain how comforting that was to not just my wife, but also for myself! Our baby was also  “sunny side up” and Gretchen was able to help my wife perform all the exceraises in the delivery room that she taught us when we were 7 months pregnant. 

In all, Gretchen knows her stuff, is a complete sweetheart and is extremely passionate and professional in every aspect of her job! 10 out of 10! 

Posted 9/4/2018

get a Gravatar

Krystal Nguyen

I love Gretchen and am so happy that I found her to provide support during one the most memorable experiences of my life. I interviewed 8 doulas, and she easily stood out to me.


She is gorgeous inside and out and her presence is very pleasant. She has a gentle, calm voice, and I love that she has a holistic and very supportive approach. I didn't feel like she would push strong opinions on me or make me feel judged---and she didn't. I feel she practices what she preaches; self-care, health, community, etc. She teaches yoga, has a passion for birth and families, loves babies, and is a talented musician (she sang some beauftiful songs to our baby).


During prenatal visits, Gretchen talked through many things with my husband and me and shared a lot of useful info. She lent me some books. She also practiced some Spinning Babies poses with me, talked about relaxation and pain management techniques, and worked through some things to consider for my birth plan. I was initially terrified of giving birth; I couldn't talk about it without tearing up in fear but working with her really helped me come to a place where I felt very empowered and excited to give birth.


My labor and delivery was nothing like we had planned for, but with Gretchen’s support, it was still an incredibly joyous and beautiful experience for me that I will treasure forever. People are always shocked when I say my labor was really fun. I can definitely thank Gretchen for that. ??

I appreciate the advocating she did for me at the hospital as well. She made me aware of some things like when they were about to give me medication I would otherwise not have known about. There were so many things that she did that I'm grateful for. Her after care and check-ins with me were also really great.

I could say endless good things but there is a limit for the review on this site, so I’ll just end by saying that I can’t recommend her enough!

Posted 7/13/2018

get a Gravatar

Tam Tran

First-time mama here :)

We found Gretchen through a referral and we couldn't be happier. Out of the 3 doulas we interviewed, we picked Gretchen because of her diverse background and PASSION for being a doula. When we originally met Gretchen, I wasn't sure if I wanted to have a "natural birth" because I know I don’t handle pain very well :) Gretchen spent a lot of time educating and providing us the necessary resources to help us commit to "Hypnobirthing."

Fast forward to the day of my son's arrival - Gretchen was there with us day and night! Not only was she there physically, she gave me all the support I needed mentally and spiritually to push through and have a natural birth. I was very surprised as well as did my family and friends and it was ALL because of Gretchen’s support! She was extremely patient and calm throughout the entire process. When things weren’t progressing, she helped me get into different positions, used massage techniques, continued to help me focus mentally with different breathing exercises, and constantly reminded me how to reach each milestone throughout the laboring process. I am 100% confident I wouldn’t have been able to reach my birthing goals without her.

Afterward, Gretchen came over to visit us twice to make sure we were settling in well. She was like an old friend - coming over to give me a PP massage, made lactation cookies, herbal tea, and helped me make my sitz bath for the month. My husband and I are so utterly grateful for her support, love, and spirit.

I would HIGHLY recommend her to any first-time moms, my friends, and family in a heartbeat! :)

Posted 6/29/2018

get a Gravatar

Heidi Richter

With all of our friends and family living in another country, and my hope to have an intervention free laboir & delivery, Gretchen was exactly the support system my husband and I had hoped for. She was so supportive of my goal to have a hypnobirth and encouraged and empowered me every step of the way. 

She was always available to answer any questions or concerns we had during my pregnancy and up to hours before the birth as well as during the postpartum period. 

While I gave birth in a hospital, it was my hope to have the most calming and empowering birth I could have. Gretchen helped us create the atmosphere to facilitate that and was a HUGE part and reason we had such a positive experience.

I had Gretchen repeating affirmations to me and holding my hand on one side, and my husband doing the same on the other.  She was an advocate for our birth plan (that she helped us create) and helped us ensure our plan was respected by hospital staff. 

She is a wealth of knowledge and female empowerment, always SO encouraging and always made me feel like I held the power within. 

I will forever look back on my birth experience with love and pride and honestly.....enjoyment. It was an amazing experience and a massive part of that is thanks to Gretchen, her expertise, guidance and calming presence. 

Gretchen also supported me post partum, bringing me lactation cookies, advice, herbal tea and encapsulating my placenta. I also suffered from some baby blues and post partum anxiety and Gretchen was very supportive throughout that experience. 

I highly Recommend Gretchen if you’re looking for an amazing doula ! Words can’t really describe just how big of a part she played and how much we appreciate her. 

Posted 3/8/2018

get a Gravatar

Monique and Ashley Dias

Gretchen was a great addition to our birthing team! She is very caring and spent time with us before the birth to help educate us on the process to make sure we were prepared. She was very easy to work with and provided great support throughout the birthing process. 

Posted 2/7/2018

get a Gravatar

Lisa Killeen

My husband and I debated about hiring a doula for the birth of our first and only child . I had a strong desire to have an unmediated and natural delivery and I knew my loving husband wouldn't be able to comfort me throughout the long hours of my labor alone, so he finally budged and that's how we met Gretchen. From the start I felt Gretchen's  confidence and her calmness . She was very knowledgeable and answered any questions and or requests by sending me videos , books/ articles, and had ideas from her previous experiences. Thanks to Gretchen's experience in massage , positive affirmations ,calming voice ,and she never let me give up we were successful in an unmediated natural  delivery. She was there every step of the way (11hours) she also advised  my husband things he can do to comfort me .Gretchen was the one who cut our daughter's umbilical cord due to my husband's squeamish stomach. After the delivery , our daughter needed care in the NICU and Gretchen strongly requested that we had skin to skin before they took her away , which meant the world to me . Gretchen made me feel comfortable and confident throughout the whole time . I had an amazing delivery and we owe it all to her ! Months later she still keeps in touch and asks how we are all doing . We would definitely use her again ! 

Posted 1/26/2018

get a Gravatar

Sukhjeet Bhalla

?We contacted Gretchen during the last month of my pregnancy. We decided to hire her as our doula soon after our initial meeting. After that, she was always available on-call either on the phone or on text messages.

Gretchen even accompanied me for my NST test in the hospital. Our baby was late; I waited till 42 weeks and tried everything to induce labor naturally. But eventually I had to undergo induction. Gretchen supported us with information at all steps.

Gretchen was really helpful during my long labor. I was in Labor & Delivery for 3 days and she was there with me most of the time . Her presence was of huge emotional support both for me and my husband. She encouraged and guided me throughout the tough process. She gave me timely massages, encouraged me to walk around the hallways during contractions, and kept me distracted and engaged all the time. She played a very active role in my labor and and helped me make the right decisions. Lastly, her postpartum visits were extremely helpful and uplifting as well.

I am really thankful to her for my normal delivery. She is more like a friend to us than a professional.
I would really recommend her to anyone thinking of hiring a doula.??

Posted 9/23/2017

get a Gravatar

Tarhata Brazsal

It being my first pregnancy without knowing how much I can trust my body,while working through a terrible pregnancy without much support,as well being a sexual assault survivor,I couldnt have been blessed with a more perfect delivery with a wonderful team.Much thanks to our doula Gretchen, who went far beyond her duties as a doula-she helped me to navigate through my thoughts and experiences of both fear, pain, and suffering through the few weeks we had her on board.

From the start,I had a very rough time with my initial labor team who simply didn't believe me when I repeated told them I was having pain to the point that I couldn't get out of bed or stand.After I met Gretchen at 34 weeks gestation, I found a new team who finally believed me.Much of our conversations was helping me reconcile with the lack of support I had while preparing for natural birth I was planning for with an entirely new team.She empowers you, not by giving advise,but my listening to your thougts,acknowledging your inner wisdom,and having faith in your decision making.Additionally, during the few weeks we had her as our doula,she checked up on me,providing me with positive affirmations as well as relaxation exercises specific to my needs.

At the time of my labor, she gave me massages and at the very point I became exhausted, she asked me if she could sing.This was the magical moment of my delivery, because after she sang, I regained my strength and was able to delivery my first born.I could not have asked for a more sacred and gratifying experience!

Even after,she continued to go far beyond her role.The next day,she baked lactation cookies and helped me to relax by giving me a foot massage during my lactation consult!

I'm probably not going to have another child in a couple years,but when I do, I'll be sure to welcome Gretchen back.She helped turn my pregnancy experience into a positive one and I can't recommend anyone else!

Posted 9/12/2017

get a Gravatar

Caitlin D. C.

What can I say about Gretchen to communicate just how wonderfully she impacted our birth?! From our first phone call and on through our baby's arrival, Gretchen was completely present, positive, and patient. She was calm and joyful and brought her experience and energy to our team. Gretchen maintained a happy and positive climate as we progressed toward a natural birth. She never lost confidence (or portrayed a loss of confidence) in our progress or capability. During an especially stressful point, Gretchen stepped in and suggested a different labor position which helped us continue forward to our natural, healthy birth. I can't imagine a stronger addition to any mother or family than Gretchen. She is committed to birth and supporting women and families. From physically rubbing my feet and back to telling me she had all the patience I could ever need (when our baby was nearly 2 weeks "late") Gretchen was on our team. She'll be a blessing to your birth from the minute you speak to her!

Posted 8/28/2017

Birth Availability for Gretchen Retka

= Available. Calendar last updated: 8/17/2019 10:49:21 AM

Postpartum Availability for Gretchen Retka

= Available. Calendar last updated: 8/17/2019 10:49:21 AM