Gretchen Retka Photo

Gretchen Retka

Holistic Sister

Santa Cruz, CA Service range 60 miles

Birth Fee

$3000 to $3250

Postpartum Rate

$30 to $35

Birth Fee

$3000 to $3250

Postpartum Rate

$30 to $35

Birth Doula Experience

13 years and 187 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

Postpartum limits/restrictions: Currently only offering birth doula services

Attends hospital births? All Hospitals

Attends birth center births? All Birth Centers

Attends home births? Any Home Birth

College Education


Special Services Offered

  • Acupressure
  • Aromatherapy
  • ASL (American Sign Language)
  • Baby sign language education
  • Babywearing education
  • Belly binding
  • Belly casting
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Henna belly designs
  • Photography - Birth
  • Placenta encapsulation
  • Prenatal & postpartum fitness services
  • Prenatal or postnatal massage
  • Prenatal Yoga
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Sibling support (for your older children at the birth)
  • TENS units rental
  • Therapeutic bodywork
  • Virtual and remote doula support

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, 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

Fee Details

COVID VIRTUAL SUPPORT AVAILABLE as needed (PLEASE INQUIRE FOR DETAILS) Birth Support includes 1) 3 Prenatal Visits (2 virtual, 1 in home) 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) 1 Postpartum visit in the comfort of your home 4-7 days after birth with support from a Holistic place of care.

Service Area

Santa Cruz, CA Service range 60 miles

Certifications for Gretchen Retka

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Client Testimonials for Gretchen Retka

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We had the most magical natural unmedicated birth experience in a hospital and we owe so much of it to Gretchen. Right from our first interaction when we were interviewing birth doulas, we were drawn by her warm nature. Her prenatal visits were extremely helpful be it the exercises she taught us to enable an optimal baby position for birth or her inputs into crafting our birth plan. We would have been lost with the information overload if not for her timely, targeted and super informative educational resources that have been extremely helpful to us as first time parents. She has always been a text or phone call away to address anything we needed. She brought in a sign of relief when she entered the labor room...her calming presence during my final stretch of labor and the positions she guided me through definitely helped me avoid an epidural. The icing on the cake was her singing a lullaby to our little one upon birth, it felt divine. She also captured beautiful moments of our baby's birth that we will cherish forever. I will always remember her positive affirmation 'You are stronger than you think!'. Can't thank you enough Gretchen for being the rockstar that you are and all your support to growing families :)



Gretchen was my birth doula and assisted in the birth of my first child. She is professional, to the point and very knowledgable. I went in labor 5w before the due date and Gretchen was able to make time and help us with the birth in the hospital. During my hospital stay, she gave very useful advice multiple times on different scenarios which was very helpful considering we weren't prepared to go into labor at the time. At times of anxiety, she was able to calm the room and provide great support to me which gave me confidence and set me up for a successful vaginal delivery. Thank you, Gretchen!



I had a great experience with Gretchen! In our pre-birth visits Gretchen shared a wealth of knowledge and resources, helping me feel very informed going into delivery.

My labor started ahead of the induction date, but stalled after I got admitted. Gretchen promptly came to the hospital and stayed until a few hours after my delivery (which happened almost 15 hours after I was admitted). In addition to coaching me through different postural exercises, she encouraged me to try other methods of pain management before taking the epidural, and helped advocate with the pitocin timing.

During the pushing stage Gretchen kept me focused and was a voice of calm and encouragement. It was wonderful to see that many of the nurses recognized her and often deferred to her knowledge. She also helped my baby get latched right after birth and provided valuable breastfeeding advice.

Gretchen’s warm and caring nature, combined with her immense knowledge helped make my birthing experience very positive. I highly recommend her!

Rachel & Matthew


We want to express our deepest gratitude for Gretchen's incredible support during the birth of our sweet daughter Sierra! We really appreciated her pre birth visits and support with body movement and exercises. Her guidance and encouragement during labor helped me through every contraction while on pitocin so much that I was able to get to 5 cm without an epidural. Her reminder that discomfort is progress gave me the strength to stay present with every breath. Gretchen's dedication and compassion leading up to the birth was vital in helping us feel prepared for the big day. Our family is so grateful for her unwavering support during one of the most memorable moments in our lives. Thank you for being our rock and inspiration.



Gretchen is a joy to work with.  She has a warm and truly caring spirit and is incredibly knowledgeable about all things pregnancy and childbirth related.  Our goal was to have an unmedicated vaginal birth, and I don't think this would have been possible, or it would have been much harder, without Gretchen's support throughout the pregnancy and labor.  I didn't realize that we could be preparing for labor and birth in the third trimester, but Gretchen walked us through different positions to ensure baby is in the right place, and shared a lot of resources of what else we can do to prepare.  

When I went into labor, Gretchen was supportive and responsive throughout early labor, and met us at the hospital right as my water broke.  Though I was already 7cm when I arrived at the hospital, it took several more hours to fully dilate, and Gretchen made sure I was trying different positions and resting between contractions.  The pushing stage was the hardest for me, and I also ended up pushing for five hours, but Gretchen coached me on breathing throughout and also gave me the encouragement I needed to believe that it was possible and to make the final stretch happen.  

I'm so glad and relieved that we were able to have the natural birth that we wanted, and our baby girl arrived safely without any complications, and I also felt totally confident that no matter what we had to consider before and during the birth, Gretchen would help us think through the different options and would be supportive of whatever choices we made.  She also gives excellent massages - I was incredibly tense after the delivery, maybe because of all the pushing and then holding baby and breastfeeding, and her postpartum massage was a lifesaver (and I think helped with milk flow as well).  

My partner and I both think the world of Gretchen and are so grateful she was with us on our birthing journey.  

Jamie Rom


Gretchen was an absolute pleasure to work with! She is a perfect blend of professional and personal, and our son was her 160th birth as a doula. Her bubbly personality and gentle spirit make her a joy to be around. We really appreciated her pre-birth visits as she got to know us and provided resources to help us make informed decisions. My son was born in the optimal position, and I attribute it to the exercises Gretchen had us doing at home during pregnancy. She is knowledgeable about natural methods for preparing mother and baby for birth, but respects your decisions in whatever route you choose to go with pain medication. My husband and I always felt safe with her to share our intimate thoughts and fears, and she listened and responded with great care and understanding. She gave me advice as I began early labor and kept in close communication. My active labor was a quick 5 hours, and I can’t imagine going through that without her support. No matter what was happening, Gretchen was the calm, encouraging guide that I needed as I labored naturally. She was an advocate for me with the hospital staff and a huge support to my husband as he partnered in the process. Having an experienced person who was focused on me was such a comfort. She also surprised us by documenting some special birth moments on her phone. After our son was born, she helped with initial breastfeeding and made sure we got to our recovery room to settle in. She checked on us a week later with a postpartum visit and debriefed the birth with us. It was an overall wonderful partnership, and I consider her a friend now.

Christina S


We had two incredible birth experiences with Gretchen. I felt completely secure, my husband was at ease, the doctor was impressed and asked for her business card. The nurses thanked her and told us they learned a lot from her. Her communication is outstanding. You can really feel her experience of so many births.

After interviewing many doulas, we were immediately impressed by how well Gretchen understood us. I had birth injuries from my first birth and was even considering a cesarean for my second birth. When I became pregnant with our third child, I really wanted to go into labor naturally and was nervous because my provider recommended an induction. Gretchen provided extensive knowledge, resources and reassurance for all our concerns. We developed a detailed birth plan, were fully informed about our options and felt confident in making decisions. 

During both births, I was able to relax as soon as Gretchen arrived. Despite both babies being in an unfavorable position (OP), and experiencing irregular labor patterns and stalled progress, I didn't require any interventions. With Gretchen’s help and encouragement we wiggled me into different positions, helping to spin the baby in the right position. Although our hospital staff was skilled and very supportive, they likely would not have the time, experience or patience to achieve this without interventions. 

Throughout the birthing process, Gretchen sensed every kind of support I needed. We had the lights dimmed, all kinds of props for support. She also taught my husband how to support me very effectively. She was always two steps ahead, preparing me for questions the doctor would ask me a while later. 

We are immensely grateful for our wonderful birthing experiences. We feel so blessed everything went as I was hoping for - natural unmedicated births, without any tearing. We cannot thank Gretchen enough for her support and really wish to stay connected!



As a first time mom, I was riddled with a lot of questions and anxiety surrounding my labor and delivery experience. I was really uncertain if I wanted to obtain a doula, and actually decided on this very late in my pregnancy. I read Gretchen's reviews and saw so many positive experiences so I was very glad she was available for my due date! Meeting her during our consultation relieved so many of the worries my husband and I were feeling in the weeks leading to our due date. She really explained everything thoroughly from the beginning, and answered any questions along the way. She was a wonderful addition to our delivery team, supporting my decisions every step of the way. She helped me feel encouraged and supported before, during, and after delivery. It was definitely a unique experience for us to obtain a doula and we're grateful to have had Gretchen's support during a special time in our lives. 

Fernanda Sa


I cannot express enough gratitude for the incredible support and guidance provided by Gretchen during my pregnancy and childbirth journey. From the moment we met, I knew I had found a compassionate and knowledgeable ally who would be with me every step of the way.

Gretchen's expertise and calming presence were invaluable throughout my pregnancy. She took the time to listen to my concerns, answer my questions, and provide evidence-based information that empowered me to make informed decisions. Her extensive knowledge of childbirth and her ability to explain the process in a reassuring manner helped alleviate my anxieties and build my confidence.

During the labor and delivery, Gretchen was an absolute rock. Her unwavering support and encouragement kept me focused and gave me the strength to navigate each contraction. She intuitively knew what I needed and provided comfort measures, such as massage and position changes, that helped ease my pain and create a positive birthing experience.

What truly sets Gretchen apart is her heartfelt care and genuine connection. She provided emotional support not only to me but also to my partner. She created a nurturing environment that allowed us to feel safe, respected, and empowered. 

I wholeheartedly recommend Gretchen to any expecting parent in need of a doula. Her passion for supporting women and families is evident in everything she does. She goes above and beyond to ensure a positive birth experience and provides unwavering support during this transformative time. Gretchen is truly a remarkable doula, and I am forever grateful for the role she played in my journey to motherhood.

Fernanda, Christopher and Owen ?

Emily and Phil


I’m so happy that we chose Gretchen as our doula.

We talked to 5 people and liked several. I ended up deciding that Gretchen was the only person we’d talked to who I felt truly not self-conscious around. (There are only a handful of people on the planet I don’t feel self conscious around, so this was an exciting and fascinating feeling for me.) This was the _perfect_ choice - I had 15-20m of pushing (4-5 contractions), which is super fast for a first child. Gretchen and my midwife mentioned that it was likely because I’d been so willing to wiggle and flail around during the segments of labor just before and that had helped my daughter navigate into the right positions much faster. That would have been a much different experience if I had been worried about what my doula would think of me!

Gretchen did an excellent job “project managing” my contractions, especially when they were strong enough for me to have trouble concentrating or really connecting with what was going on around me. She observed how my body was moving and requested props like the peanut ball, then got them positioned for me at the right moments. When I was using the nitrous I didn’t initially realize most folks couldn’t easily understand what I was saying through the mask - Gretchen was doing an excellent job of translating my mumbles to everyone else in the room.

When it came to pushing she was also an excellent coach: encouraging me to hold my pushes extended longer, and explaining why it was going to matter as well as which parts of my body to pay attention to to make it happen. 

What we were looking for:

* A lot of experience with the labor and birth process. 
* Could identify decision points during labor, even if we didn’t realize it was one.
* Flexible and creative, not dogmatic. I never felt judged for any decision, or locked into any of my ahead-of-time plans. Amazing!

Kendra and Jason


Mother perspective: “I feel very fortunate to have met Gretchen.  When we initially met there was no pandemic and we had planned to birth at the hospital with Gretchen. When the COVID pandemic began hospitals restricted additional support persons being present. In the end, we decided to change our birth plan to a home birth which ended up being the best decision we could have made. Gretchen was very supportive and encouraging as we researched alternative options and was willing to support us in any capacity available. I’m so thankful to have had a home birth experience and Gretchen was an essential member of our birth team. Gretchen provided wonderful prenatal support with recommended exercises and advice. During active labor, Gretchen gave me vital breath coaching and expertly helped guide me to positions and helpful movements during intense moments. I am so thankful she was there as we welcomed our baby boy. I feel fortunate for my birthing experience during this COVID pandemic as it was very empowering to me and was done from the comfort of our home. Gretchen came after the birth to check on us and brought her amazing lactation cookies. Gretchen is an experienced, supportive and resourceful doula, we really enjoyed having her be part of our birth experience.”

Father perspective:
"Gretchen was a valuable member of our team, and I’m very happy we were able to have her help. Through this very unusual time she has been flexible to changes in plans and supportive every step of the way. At the birth itself she was a calming presence with unwavering attention given to my wife and her labor, taking some of the pressure off of me to be the sole provider of that role and allowing me to be occasionally distracted by other things, like our other children. She has only ever shown us kindness and respect at every interaction and it was a joy to have her as our doula."

Danielle Cote


I strongly believe I had the best labor  experience because Gretchen was my doula. From the time we started working with her during my pregnancy she was the most helpful resource we had. My husband and I met with her (virtually during COVID-19) to go over educational websites and videos she sent us. As we got closer to the due date she helped us work through labor positions and taught my husband how to best support me physically and emotionally. When I started early labor at home we called her and she come to our house to support us. She helped with breathing techniques and physical support to my hips and back during contractions. She recommended different positions to make me as comfortable as possible and she stayed with us until it was time to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 she was not allowed to come to the hospital with us. When we got to the hospital I was 6cm dilated and ready to be admitted to the delivery room. I don't think I would have had to confidence to labor at home as long as I did if we didn't have Gretchen coaching us. While I was in labor at the hospital my husband was in contact with Gretchen and she was still providing advise to us virtually. After I gave birth to our baby boy she checked in with us and brought me lactation cookies. She is still checking in with us frequently almost 3 weeks postpartum. Gretchen is a very kindhearted and knowledgeable doula who I would highly recommend! If we have another baby I will for sure have Gretchen as my doula again. 

Amanda Mabe


Gretchen was AMAZING!! It felt like she became part of our family. This was my third pregnancy and I really wanted a non medicated birth. I knew my best chances at that was to hire a doula and Gretchen was everything and more!! From the first meeting till our last we enjoyed her so much! She was such an advocate for us at the hospital and extremely knowledgeable! We miss seeing her. ?? Best investment ever!! 



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. 

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. 



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!!!! 

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.

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.

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 :)

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.

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!

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!

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! :)

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.

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.

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 !

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.??

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!

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!

Birth Availability for Gretchen Retka

= Available. Calendar last updated: 05-26-2024

Postpartum Availability for Gretchen Retka

= Available. Calendar last updated: 05-26-2024