Phone: (518) 253-0687
Birth Fee: Not specified
Fee Details: My fee includes one prenatal visit in your home, unlimited email/phone contact prior to labor, labor support at home and at your birth place, and one post-partum home visit within 4 days of delivery as well as six weeks of phone/email support thereafter. A prenatal massage in your home at the prenatal meeting can be added for an additional charge.
Birth Doula Experience: 5 years and 55 births attended
Clients per Month: 1 to 3Attends hospital births? All Hospitals
Languages spoken: Some Spanish
Service Area MapArea of practice: Columbia, MD
My husband and I had the privilege of taking a private birth class with Vynessa. Along with pregnancy and birth topics, she taught us about “the fourth trimester" - tips for after baby is born. This was so confidence building. She let us do some hands-on learning with a variety of breastfeeding pillows and baby carriers!
There are so many wonderful things to say about our experience. Vynessa was organized and thorough with the information but still personable when teaching. She listened to our needs and expanded on topics we were more interested in. She used a variety of mediums to educate – including short video clips, books, demonstrations, hands-on activities, handouts, and of course personal accounts.
Vynessa was so supportive of our feelings about giving birth. She really provided a safe space to learn about all the ways we could choose to experience bringing Norah into the world and also helped us understand that you can have a birth plan but sometimes baby has a plan of her own. She taught us a valuable decision making process to use as my labor progressed.
Thanks to Vynessa, we felt very confident and comforted knowing what my body was going through and what baby was going through. The knowledge we gained from class afforded me the ability to labor in the comfort of my home with my husband until 9 centimeters and once at the hospital had a natural, unmedicated labor and delivery. (However had we chosen any other route in our birth plan Vynessa would have been just as supportive of those choices too – its truly a no-judgement zone with her!)The midwives couldn’t believe I was a first time mom because I was using every contraction to help baby come into the world and was handling the pain in a positive and strong way. She truly built our knowledge and confidence as well as fostered many relationship building conversations for my husband and I while we went through the most important experience in our life.
Vynessa was a critical part of our birth team this go around, and I truly wish we'd worked with her for the birth of our first child.
Vynessa was responsive, a great listener, and full of helpful knowledge and recommendations (all without being pushy or preachy) - in the lead up to, during and after delivery. Our birth went exactly as we planned, and we were able to deliver our son quickly and unmedicated due largely in part to her. She understood and accommodated our personal needs and personalities, from our overall planning to the little things that kept us calm and (relatively) composed throughout labor.
Vynessa was supportive to both me and my husband, and there's no way I could have done it without her there. We highly recommend her and already have to others!
I cannot speak highly enough of Vynessa Her knowledge, support, and calming presence were essential throughout the birth process. We didn’t have many options with our first birth being in the middle of the Mohave dessert on a military base. With our second child we knew we wanted things to go differently and with all the options available to us now it was overwhelming. Vynessa walked us through everything and eased our minds. The mental preparation and non-judgmental support she provided before the birth was extremely valuable for me. Her guidance was also very helpful for my husband. At our first birth, my husband didn’t know exactly what to do to support me and felt somewhat helpless. This time he felt more empowered and we were able to work as more of a team. I ultimately wanted a natural birth but was keeping an open mind because I don’t have a very high pain tolerance and have trouble relaxing. I was able to achieve that natural birth and other goals because of Vynessa. She was an invaluable part of our wonderful birth experience. We highly recommend Vynessa.
Vynessa was a great support to us during our VBAC experience in December 2014. It was wonderful to have someone experienced to help us out before, during, and after labor. Besides her knowledge and massages she was always finding other little ways to help out that made a big difference over all. We highly recommend her!
We welcomed our second daughter on April 29th 2015 and Vynessa was there for a second time to support us. I can not stress enough how important her role was in making things run smoother and faster while stuck in a hospital room. I was hesitant to think we needed her again for our second pregnancy having made it through the first (natural-unmedicated labor/delivery) successfully with her guidance. However, as each pregnancy and labor sets forward a different rhythm, we knew we needed her again.
In the time leading up to my due date she was there at any moment to discuss a "game plan," make sure we were prepared, and coach me on things to expect for the second time. We talked about how my first labor progressed and how to better overcome some of the challenges were we to be faced with them again. She made me feel at ease and ready to welcome our second daughter with great energy.
My birth plan called for an experience like our first, a successful natural delivery, unmedicated, and no interventions unless critically neccessary. Almost full term and expecting to "coax" our daughter out it was a surprise when she decided to come as my water broke in the early morning. I called my doctors to inform and they suggested I come in to the hospital to have a check. Contractions had not yet begun and I wished to labor at home but a quick trip to the hospital led to lock down and there I was trying to induce labor on my own. Vynessa came right away and we advocated for less monitoring and more movement. Doctors threatened me with Pitocin by 5pm. With her help-my labor set in, she pulled out every trick she had-aromatherapy, massage, belly wrapping, movement and meditation.
Her active role in communicating with the hospital staff and coaching me through labor led to a fast and succesful natural delivery of my second daughter before the Pitocin drip. She supported us every step of the way-valued beyond recommendation.
We used Vynessa for our birth and she was amazing. We interviewed many doulas and knew that we clicked with Vynessa right away. She is very calm, knowledgeble and accomodating. Vynessa spent as much time as we needed in our home, on the phone, and over email helping us plan our birth. The day of, Vynessa was a rock star. She stepped in at just the right moments, took control (when she sensed I as teh husband was overwhelmed) and managed our midviwes in a way that took the pressure of us.
Vynessa would be our top choice for baby #2 - hope shes not booked up!
Vynessa is amazing!! With her help and support, I was able to have an unmedicated, vaginal birth for my fraternal twins at 37 weeks! Her physical & emotional support, kind & encouraging words & gentle touch were invaluable in helping me to achieve this goal. During pregnancy, Vynessa was a wonderful resource. Whenever I had questions or concerns (which was often) and especially after every visit with my OB, I would turn to her for help in sorting the myraid information that I was given. She was always able to offer helpful and beneficial suggestions. It was on her recommendation that I saw a chiropractor, & at 31 weeks, Baby B, who was breech, flipped to vertex!! On the few instances that she did not immediately have an answer for my questions, she would find out the information and get back to me quickly, which shows her care for my concerns.
Her presence in the Labor and Delivery room was so beneficial for both my husband and myself. My labor began at midnight and Vynessa was there all night walking the halls with me to help labor to progress. Whatever concern I had, she was there to fulfill a need, whether it be getting a popsicle or a heating pad, putting essential oils on my feet or even gentle massage. I was eventually put on Pitocin and when the pain became too intense for me to work through on my own, Vynessa was there to coach and encourage me through every contraction! Since my husband gets a little nervous in the hospital setting, she also coached him on the best way to support me & help me through the pain. When I became doubtful or discouraged, she was there to listen to me and support me. When confronted with medical decisions during labor, she gave us information and guidance, but never forced her opinion and left every decision completely up to us. When we reminisce about the birth of our twins, we will always treasure the invaluable role Vynessa played in their birth story. I wholeheartedly recommend her.
Vynessa was an absolutely essential part of my journey to a beautiful, natural childbirth. Throughout my pregnancy she was incredibly attentive, but she really stepped up when at 34 weeks my sonogram revealed that my baby was breech. She gave me all the information I needed on flipping a breech baby and always encouraged me to stay positive (even when the doctors were trying to schedule a c-section). At 38 weeks the baby was vertex but ready to stay comfy in utero for another 3+ weeks. When my doctor suggested at 40 weeks that I elect to have an induction Vynessa was my steadfast advocate. She encouraged me to talk to my doctor about holding off on the induction since it was my first pregnancy. At last, 12 days past my due date, my baby girl arrived. Vynessa stayed in constant communication with my husband over night while I labored at home. When she arrived at our house she was a soothing presence that put both of us at ease. At the hospital, as things progressed quite rapidly, she stayed by our side and talked to the nurses about what I needed to be more comfortable so I could push through the final contractions. Her support and knowledge were truly invaluable. She went above and beyond her call of duty, including transporting my placenta (on foot!) back to my house. I can not say enough good things about our experience with Vynessa. Nine months after post partum she continues checks in on my family and help us hurtle the obstacles of being new parents.
I could not have been happier with Vynessa as my doula. With so many friends having C-sections, I hoped for a smooth pregnancy and natural birth. I decided that when it came to labor and delivery, I would not put too much pressure on myself and consider interventions if I needed them, but my ultimate goal was to deliver as naturally as possible. Vynessa was so accepting of my goal and was an amazing partner to my husband and me during my pregnancy and labor and delivery. Upon first contacting her, Vynessa spent almost an hour on the phone with me just getting to know me. We had not even hired her yet and she was giving me such personal attention. We then had a Skype conversation where she “met” my husband and we decided to retain her services. Vynessa was with us every step of the way. When I went into labor 2.5 weeks early Vynessa was an amazing coach and guide. I honestly would have had no idea what to do without her. I was in labor on and off for 31 hours and Vynessa was right there with me. She worked seamlessly with the midwives and nurses to help me progress. She had the knowledge and experience to brainstorm ideas to help my son be better positioned so that I could keep my goal of having a natural delivery. I did end up needing some Pitocin, but Vynessa and my team worked so well together to help me that despite the pain I did not need anesthesia. However, I never felt that she would have judged me if I elected to have it. She was on my team and, besides my husband, my biggest cheerleader. I would have had no idea how to navigate the labor process without Vynessa. I read books, took a class but nothing really prepares you for how it will be – because every labor is different! The midwives and nurses aren’t always in the room with you but your doula is! If you are considering hiring a doula, I recommend that you seriously consider Vynessa. She was wonderful.
Vynessa Pantano is a fantastic doula with a background in massage therapy and pain management and we would not have been able to get through our 38 hour natural labor without her physical and emotional support.
Our doula had a family emergency the day I was unexpectedly induced and Vynessa was her back up. We were a bit concerned that we hadn't met Vynessa prior to our delivery, but she called us on the way to the hospital and put our minds at ease and quickly caught up with our birth plan and main wishes for delivery. Labor and delivery is difficult, and needless to say, things didn't progress as smooth as we had hoped. I experienced severe and painful contractions every 3-5 minutes for over 24 hours with no dilation, back labor, no sleep, and side affects from the induction medications.
Doula's normally arrive during active labor (once dilated); however after 24 hours, we were physically exhausted and asked Vynessa to please join us in the hospital. She gladly came and provided physical support during contractions so my husband could rest, emotional support and interaction with the midwives and nurses on our behalf, gave advice and enabled us to confidently make decisions throughout the delivery, provided labor knowledge and position recommendations for bringing the baby down, and emotional support when our baby's heart rate began to plummet which put us at risk for a C-section. She logged our progress throughout the labor, which she gave us as a reminder of the day our daughter came into the world, and even took some beautiful photos when our little one finally made her appearance.
My husband and I often tell people that we were unsure if it was necessary to hire a doula; however, very quickly we realized how very important this support is and we could not have been more satisfied with our experience. Vynessa often emails us to check on our little one and we feel very grateful she came to be our doula.
Vynessa was amazing! The night before I went into labor, I fell and sprained my ankle. Needless to say, I was very anxious when I went into labor 3 hours after getting home from being in the ER all night. She was so supportive, and had really given a lot of thought to how I could manage different laboring positions without being able to walk or put pressure on my foot. My labor ended up taking 23 hours, and she was a wonderful companion throughout the entire process, including helping a great deal with the pain when the contractions really picked up. She was thoughtful, caring, and compassionate while also being very knowledgable about labor and delivery. She helped me make the decision between have my water broken and pitocin when my contractions stalled out. If I have any more children, I definitely want her at every birth!!!
Vynessa attended the birth of my first child this past summer. I interviewed 5 doulas and I knew Vynessa was the one for me the moment we met. It is difficult to put into words how integral she was to the whole experience. During my pregnancy she helped prepare me for the birth via emotional and informational support. During the birth itself she was a pillar of support not only for me but also for my mother (I’m a single mother and Vynessa and my mother were my birth partners). Vynessa’s expertise and kind reassurances helped keep my mother calm and helped me to deal with unexpectedly painful and back-to-back contractions (due to an induction). She always had suggestions for different positions and things to try when the labor got tough. She was somehow able to keep me calm and focused when all I waned to do was scream and cry. I truly don’t know what my mother and I would have done without her. I recommend Vynessa to anyone in search of a birth doula, and I know that if I have more children she will be the person I will want by my side again.
We were so incredibly happy that Vynessa was a part of our birth experience. Without her, I don’t know if I would have made it ! I will start by saying that I was not initially interested in having a doula, but it was required or strongly suggested by the midwives at GW. I am a pretty private person and did not want to have anyone in the room with me except my husband. After speaking with four doulas, I finally met with Vynessa, and she just got it. In our initial conversation, she put so much emphasis on the importance of helping my husband and I have the birth experience we envisioned. She really listened and made us feel incredibly comfortable. I called her with questions toward the end of my pregnancy (and after the birth) and she was always very responsive and helpful. When the big day came, Vynessa was that positive energy, making sure everything was going smoothly, getting my husband involved, ensuring the midwife followed our birth plan, helping us feel informed about what was going on, and motivating me when I needed that extra reminder that staying in a seated position wouldn’t help me as much as moving around. I had pretty bad back labor, but thanks to guidance on movement and breathing as well as some massage from Vynessa, I was able to have a completely natural labor and birth that lasted only a fraction of the 24 hours my midwife had originally predicted! I also really appreciated Vynessa’s post-partum care. She followed up with us, checked in on us, and answered my many questions during those crazy first few weeks. I have reached out to her since then and she is still very responsive. Vynessa was such a positive, warm, and knowledgeable presence, I have already recommended her to all of my friends. We hope Vynessa will be there with us when it’s time for baby #2.
My husband and I had a great experience working with Vynessa during my first birth. During our interview with her and our prenatal meeting, she asked very smart questions and got to know us, our motivations, dynamics and other things that could have affected our birth situation. She also helped us finalize our birth plan.
Vynessa was very supportive in the couple weeks before the birth when I could hardly wait to get things going. When my water broke and labor began (the day before Hurricane Sandy), Vynessa checked in regularly and gave me the space I wanted to labor on my own before she arrived and we went to the hospital. My labor was fast, and I was ready to push shortly after checking in. The speed was a little shocking, and Vynessa helpfully talked with our midwife about ways to help me get my bearings and understand how to push. Beyond that point, Vynessa made sure I stayed hydrated and kept reassuring me that the pushes were making progress. My little girl arrived shortly thereafter.
Births can be marathons, sprints or anywhere in between. Mine was more of the sprint variety, but Vynessa was prepared to handle any situation. She was particularly helpful in reassuring my husband and facilitating practical matters so that he could focus all of his attention and energy on me. She was also careful to remind my husband to attend to his own needs.
After the birth, Vynessa assisted with latching and then snuck out to let us get to know our daughter. During her post-partum visit, she helped with breastfeeding positions and assurance that what we were doing with the baby in general was on target. She also kept some focus on my health post-partum, which is easy to lose sight of once baby’s born.
I highly recommend working with Vynessa. She trained with the top doula in DC, is experienced as a doula and a mom, is personable, and has great instincts about what women need.
Thanks to Vynessa I had the birth experience I always dreamed of.She assisted us with creating our birth plan, pre-natal diet, etc., never once forcing her opinion, but providing clear, concise, well-founded information to best prepare me for childbirth. I went into labor three weeks before my son's due date.From the moment the contractions began at dawn, Vynessa was in close contact with us by phone giving clear instructions to make labor efficient and comfortable.Upon arrival in our home, she provided techniques to help labor progress.When we arrived at the hospital I was relieved to learn I was 7cm dilated. I was surprised I was that far along because the contractions were so manageable with Vynessa's breathing instruction and guidance. She helped me and my husband stay calm, focused and lovingly connected to each other.She made the rest of labor at the hospital as comfortable as possible through acupressure, aromatherapy, massage techniques and prompts I instantly understood that made a great difference to keep my body relaxed and my mind at ease.Pushing was empowering due to Vynessa's guidance both in the moment and beforehand.Thanks to our pacing, her instruction to me prior to the birth, and her instruction to the nurses during labor, I didn't tear at all which was a relief as it was a concern of mine beforehand.The 16 hour labor went by fast and my husband and I felt so comfortable with Vynessa (as did the hospital staff). We relied on her a great deal, yet she also allowed this to be me and my husband's experience together.Vynessa made such a difference in my breast-feeding confidence and comfort when she came to my home a few days after the birth.She spent a couple hours with my husband and I, answering all our questions. Vynessa felt like an instant confidante, supportive friend and knowledgeable expert on all things pregnancy, birth and baby-related. Again, it was the birth I always dreamed of and we will definitely use Vynessa for future births.
We welcomed our daughter into the world August 18th 2012 with the help of Vynessa. This was my first pregnancy and while I opted to give birth at a hospital with an OBGYN, I wanted a non-medicated natural birth experience.
Vynessa was extremely helpful in our first meeting by assisting us create our birth plan by educating us on all the procedures and process of labor and delivery so we could make a clear decision. She kept open communication through the last weeks of my pregnancy which encouraged and prepped me for labor, alleviating any concerns I had.
Once in early labor, I called her so that she could prep herself to be ready to join me as soon as I needed her. When I progressed towards active labor the next morning she joined us at home and helped me through the first stages so that I would not labor long at the hospital. She then helped us make the call to head to the hospital supporting us every step of the way.
If u are delivering at a hospital the nurses may become so involved in routine procedures that you need someone who can focus on your physical and mental state. While my husband was there to support, she immediately knew methods to apply to keep me progressing positively through the contractions. This also comforted my husband who was coping with the pain I was in.
All in all, I don't think I would have made it through the natural way without her support. My labor progressed well in part because she assisted in helping me guide the advancement with her coaching and advocating my needs to the doctor and nurses.
She stayed with us until breastfeeding was established and then visited us at home 5 days post birth to deliver our full birth report and answer any questions I had on breastfeeding, postpartum recovery or baby care. Her services extend far beyond her contract and I see her as not only a Doula we hired, but as a friend. I truly appreciated everything she did for us! She is highly recommended!!
I’m thankful to have had Vynessa as my doula for the birth of my son and strongly recommend her to others. She is very personable and knowledgeable and was a source of support and calmness to both me and my husband. She was adept at giving support when we needed it and stepping back when we needed more privacy. This was my first baby, and I can’t imagine getting through the 36 hour labor and having such a positive hospital birth experience without Vynessa’s help. She used massage for comfort, applied acupressure to help when labor stalled, suggested lunges to help the baby get into the optimal position, and helped me through some of the more unsightly aspects of labor (vomiting, etc.). Vynessa helped my husband and I evaluate our options after over 30 hours of labor, with transition and pushing still looming, keeping in mind our top priority - a vaginal birth. My husband and I decided on the epidural, breaking bag of waters, and a touch of pitocin to get labor moving and make sure I still had the strength to get through pushing. In the end, the epidural didn’t take right, so I went through the remainder of labor with virtually no pain medication thanks to Vynessa’s coaching. She also gave great directions in the pushing phase that helped me visualize how to push more effectively. In addition to all this, Vynessa provided support before and after our son was born and even took photos to help us remember the details of this momentous (and somewhat fuzzy) occassion. My husband and I will definitely have Vynessa as a doula for future births.
This review is from the husband/birth partner’s prospective.
Ever since we engaged Vynessa’s services she proved to be caring, knowledgeable, professional and available.
My wife’s labor was definitely a lot harder than she or I had hope for or envisioned; and now that everything is over, I cannot express how grateful we both are to have had Vynessa as our doula.
In spite of a difficult labor, my wife was able to accomplish her birth path and naturally delivered an 8.2lb baby without the use of any medication.
Working with Vynessa was very easy. She knew when to let me encourage my wife alone, when to step in and add her support and when to take over completely to allow me to take a break and recharge.
Vynessa’s knowledge proved very helpful, she suggested many positions and ways to apply pressure that helped relieve my wife’s back pain. She also had my wife perform lunges which helped the baby get in a better position for descent and ready for delivery. Vynessa’s coaching was also extremely effective as she knew what to say at the right time. In the moments of my wife’s maximum despair Vynessa was vital in conveying just enough confidence and strength to get her through the hardest part of labor and ready for delivery.
At delivery our baby boy had to go to the NICU. Vynessa was immensely helpful as she stayed by my wife’s side as some hemorrhaging was being stopped and I stayed with our new baby at the NICU without having to worry about what was going on in the delivery room. Vynessa stayed with us several hours after the delivery until everything was stabilized for my wife and checked up on us the following days. She also came to our house again a couple of days after mother and baby were dismissed from the hospital to assist with the transition and with breast feeding techniques.
Vynessa's services were outstanding in every aspect.
From the very first meeting, my husband and I felt very comforable with Vynessa. She was professional, comforting and full of helpful information. We interviewed Vynessa only a week before my due date and two and a half weeks before my son was actualy born, but she was very eager and willing to work with us. Vynessa was very encouraging when we were worried that we might have to be induced. She was on the phone with us from the early pre-labor contractions, through the first stages of labor, offered to come to our house while I labored before I wanted to go to the hospital. She left for the hospital before we even decided to go and took care of the entire check in process for us when we arrived. She helped with every step of the labor, gave many encouraging words to me and my husband and even fed my husband ice chips when he felt weak. After the labor, she hung around until we were ready to go to sleep, then came back the next day to check up on things. Since that day, we have called and emailed Vynessa to ask her MANY questions about everything from healing and recovery to teething and sleep habits. I thank God that we found Vynessa, even though it was so late in the game. We will DEFINITELY use Vynessa for any future children we may have.
We used a hospital-provided doula for our first child and were lucky enough to have a doula that we knew for our second child as Vynessa is my sister. As a brother, it was wonderful to have my sister participate in such an important life event and, as the soon-to-be new father, I felt completely confident in Vynessa's skills and knowledge. Vynessa provided the extra support that was While at the hospital, Vynessa allowed me time to rest during the less active portions of the labor which allowed me to be better rested and prepared for the latter more intense parts of the labor process and the delivery. Vynessa also established early on a very good relationship with the nurses that were overseeing the labor process which also freed me up to concentrate on supporting my wife when she needed me. Unfortunately, the policy of the hospital where we delivered was to take the baby to a nursery after 30 to 90 minutes after the birth for clean up and assessment. With Vynessa there, I was able to stay with our new baby in nursery the whole time without leaving my wife by herself in the delivery room for over two hours. Overall, Vynessa was a fantastic resource that allowed me to be fully present and support my wife when she most needed me, both emotionally and physically. I would strongly recommend Vynessa to anyone who is looking for a doula for their labor and delivery.
Vynessa helped me through the birth of my second child and I would recommend her services to everyone. I had used a hospital appointed doula during my first delivery and believed that it helped me. However, for my second birth I wanted the help of someone I knew - Vynessa. I appreciated how educated Vynessa was about birth and the issues that a woman can go through. I was induced by my doctors at 39 weeks. From my birth experience several things that Vynessa did stand out. First, the initial nurse we had, had a bit of an accent and seemed standoffish. It made me nervous. Vynessa was able to bond with her and learn that she was a substitute nurse at that hospital and that she was very supportive of natural child birth. That put my mind at ease. Second, Vynessa knew a myriad of positions or actions I could take to get me through a contraction or to help my delivery proceed. She was very conscious of my pain and my needs throughout. Third, I was only able to hold my baby for a few minutes prior to her being taken away to the nursery. She had just latched on (with some help from Vynessa) when she was taken from me. Vynessa stayed with me, I do not know what I would have done if I had been all alone in the room. I would recommend Vynessa to anyone - whether you are doing a natural birth or otherwise. She is a kind, compassionate, and very strong person. Definitely, someone you want in the delivery room with you.
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