Melanie Headley

A Brighter Birth

Website: https://www.ABrighterBirth.com

Phone: (804) 874-4442

Birth Fee: $800 to $1100

Fee Details: Congratulations! The birth of your baby should be a day that you look back on and remember feeling strong, safe and supported. I work with you through our 2 prenatal appt's and optional further CBE to fill your toolbox with multiple comfort measures, coping techniques, and evidence based info so that you go into labor, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum feeling ready and equipped. Becoming parents is overwhelming! I know, I have 4 kids:) As soon as you hire me, I go on call for you to answer questions, connect you with resources and to sometimes, just listen. Having someone available to you during this time, can make a big difference. I am on call for labor support at 38 weeks until the birth of your baby. We do a postpartum appt on Baby's 3rd day in your home to work on nursing, baby care, and to process the birth together. And then I remain on call for more questions:) Have a brighter birth!

Birth Doula Experience: 10 years

Doula Training

Not Specified

Type of Practice: Partnership with 2 or more doulas

Clients per Month: 2 to 4

Attends hospital births? Some Hospitals
I attend births at VCU Medical Center, Henrico Doctors Hospital, St. Francis Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital.
Attends birth center births? All Birth Centers
Attends home births? Some Home Births

Childbirth Education Certifications

  • ALACE (Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators)
  • Lamaze International
  • A Brighter Birth, LCCE, LLC

Breastfeeding Certifications

  • Certified Breastfeeding Counselor
  • Certified Lactation Counselor (The Center for Breastfeeding)
  • CenteringPregnancy Facilitator

Specialized training or previous experience

  • Adoption
  • 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
  • Multiples
  • Over 40
  • Plus size mothers
  • Prematurity
  • Single parents
  • Special needs babies
  • Surrogacy
  • Survivors of Previous Life Trauma
  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse
  • Teens
  • Twins
  • VBAC
  • Waterbirth

Special Services Offered

  • Acupressure
  • Aromatherapy
  • Baby-led weaning
  • Babywearing education
  • Cloth diapering education
  • Military families
  • Miscarriage Support (Before, During or After)
  • Mother blessing celebrations
  • Parenting consulting
  • Placenta encapsulation
  • Pregnancy, birth and/or newborn photography
  • Sibling support (for your older children at the birth)

Relevant volunteer or advocacy work

I am also a Recruiter and Facilitator for CenteringPregnancy at VCU

Languages spoken: English

Service Area Map

Area of practice: Richmond, VA
Travel Range: 30 Miles
Travel comments/restrictions: Over 30 miles is doable, but will be added to the cost.

Client Testimonials for Melanie Headley

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Mari Litz

We were pregnant with our second child and looking to have a very different labor with less medical interventions than with our first child. She listened to what occured with our first labor, asked questions, and listened to what we wanted with this birth.  She conveyed her extensive knowledge on the different hospitals and staff and how they would best meet what we were looking for in our labor.  She knew VBAC success rates and inducement and episiotomy rates of the area hospitals and directed me to websites to further my research (and I am a research junkie.) She seemed to be supportive of whatever type of birth we wanted and would not judge usl if we ended up not having a fully natural birth.  She has such a great balance of strength and compassion, and since I tend to have a strong personality, I knew I needed a firm, knowledgable, and supportive person to support me in this huge endeavor to have a natural birth at age 42.  I had mild contractions for about 20 minutes before my water broke.  We ended up calling her quickly as the contractions started coming every 2 minutes. Since our first birth had been 2 days of multipe visits to the hospital, we were shocked at how quickly this was progressing.  She listened to me work through two contractions and told us to meet her at the hospital. Melanie made it there in time as we were 9 cm wih a footling breech baby. I remember her putting her face right in front of my eyes and telling me I was doing a great job before I was rushed in for an emergency c-section. She did whatever was needed of her which included moving our car from the ambulance area. ;) She stayed with us to help with lactation, and she came to our home a few weeks later and helped with techniques for the baby's strong lower lip latch (very helpful!).  Although our birth didn't turn out how we wanted it, we were very glad to have Melanie on the journey with us.  We wouldn't have had it any other way.

Posted 5/9/2016

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Caitlin Minnick

We relocated to Richmond late in my pregnancy. We knew that we wanted a doula and we kept seeing and hearing her name from our midwives and other strangers. She fit us into her schedule and met us twice at our house before the birth of our daughter. We also attended a 4 hour long class with her about a week before our due date. 

Melanie was and is absolutely amazing. She helped prepare us not just for labor but for the coming of our baby into our family. She made sure that we were educated on our options and that we understood the process of labor BEFORE we were in the middle of it and potentially forced to make challenging decisions that could be motivated by pain, not information. I enjoyed my labor because of my mind set; which I owe to Melanie. Instead of viewing my prodermal labor as the"start" of labor, I slept through it, I followed her advice and did not get too excited or nervous. The morning of my daughter's birth she told me to sleep until I could not sleep any more, to rest up, and have a good meal to prepare for hard work. When I woke up at noon and wasn't able to comfortably sleep through my contractions she had us walk for 45 mintues, then  switch from active to inactive labor positions that we had practiced in her class.  I labored at home for about 5 hours until I was in transition when Melanie literally put underwear on me and helped my husband get me into the car. If it weren't for her driving with us, we would have delivered our baby girl in the back seat. She helped me breath through that instinctual urge to push until we were in the hospital room. She knew the hospital well and got a bucket of ice, washclothes, and music going with in minutes of us arriving to the hospital. Her work enabled my husband to be by my side. My baby girl was delivered 25 minutes later and Melanie helped me breast feed, and kept me relaxed as I recovered. She checked in with us after we were home and was always available.   

Posted 3/26/2016

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Sinead Downing

I had a very unique situation because I ended up having to move to Richmond 2 weeks before my due date. I knew I wanted a natural birth and that a doula would really help me get that, but also knew with the timing of everything that it might not work out. I did a ton of research, and thought that if I was unable to get a doula, that I'd be able to handle it on my own. I could not have been more wrong! My labor progressed pretty quickly, but by the time I got to the hospital, I was dialated 7cm and hardly able to talk or think, nevermind remember even ONE thing I'd read in all my research! So if you are on the fence about getting a doula, I would HIGHLY recommend it. I would not have been able to get through it on my own.

That being said, every doula is different, and finding the right one is very important. I was so lucky that I found Melanie! In my first conversation with her, I felt immediately at ease with her and knew she would help me get the natural birth I was hoped to have. Because I was contacting her so last minute, she couldn't guarantee that she'd be able to be at my birth, just because she had other clients with due dates around the same time. However, fate was on my side, and she was able to be there when I went into labor. She was extremely helpful in keeping me calm and collected at home, giving me various exercises and things to help labor progress, which also helped keep me distracted. I felt safe laboring at home with her guidance, and by the time I got to the hospital, I was already dilated 7cm. Melanie met me there, which was also the first time I met her in person, but I was immediately at ease with her. She was by my side the whole time, keeping me focused, helping me manage the contractions. I could not imagine getting through without her there with me. She was truly amazing, and I feel lucky to have had her there to get me through! I will DEFINITELY have her with me if I have any other babies!

Posted 2/4/2016

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Amanda Krovic

As we prepared to become first time parents, our expectations going into the birth of our daughter were constantly changing. The thoughts and ideas we found comfort in one day, were quickly tossed aside and replaced by the findings of our latest Google search. Up until 38 weeks of my pregnancy, we were living in New York City and did not have any sort of "plan" for our birth, other than our route up the FDR and a Spotify playlist (priorities, I know). Moving to a new city with a new doctor, I began to explore the idea of hiring a doula to help better prepare us for the birth in the midst of our ever-changing environment.

Hiring Melanie with A Brighter Birth was hands down, one of the best decisions my husband and I made throughout the process. Melanie was always real with us, and she was 100% engaged and in tune with our needs and wishes throughout our L&D, and into postpartum. We found so much comfort in knowing we would have someone there to advocate for our family and make informed decisions on our behalf, allowing my husband to be my emotional support from start to finish. Melanie ensured we made every second of our birth count, from laboring in multiple positions to my husband catching our daughter as she came earthside.

We absolutely LOVE our daughter's birth story and we have Melanie to thank in a million ways. We look forward to having her there for the births of our future babies!

Posted 1/27/2016

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Caroline Whittington Young

My husband and I can't thank Melanie enough for everything she did for us before, during, and after the birth of our first child. While searching for a birthing class with a focus on natural birth, Melanie's name came up so frequently and so highly recommended. Prior to attending her class, I devoured every book on natural birth that I could find- but I still felt a little lost and confused about what to expect. Melanie's class made things so simple for us- and Melanie made sure that no one in the class left with questions unanswered. We felt a whole new level of confidence after our classes ended. 

We were fortunate enough to also have Melanie as our doula- and we absolutely cannot imagine our birth experience without her. Melanie checked in on me (and my husband) frequently as our due date was approaching, and she helped us come up with a solid plan as our due date passed (by 11 days) and our care provider began suggesting induction. Every step of the way, Melanie helped us understand what was going on during the labor process, and I knew if we did end up needing a medical intervention, that it would be truly necessary. We ended up not needing any medical intervention at all- and when I finally did go into labor, as soon as Melanie was by our side, I never felt scared about what was to come.

When I look back at my labor, I often think about how physcially comfortable Melanie made me (for a woman in labor of course!)- I never felt over-heated or dehydrated, and emotionally I felt very strong and empowered. Our birth experience was a beautiful one, but life is so, so challenging with a newborn- and again, Melanie was there for us. She was an amazing resource for my postpartum stress and anxieties and was vital to our success in breastfeeding. Melanie continues to be an amazing resource for us and a friend, and we cannot imagine ever going through another pregnancy and labor without her. 

Posted 1/8/2016

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Kyli Bingham

I left my OB at 32 weeks to seek out a team that was going to support my desire to have a natural childbirth.  I knew that I wanted to work with Melanie from our first phone conversation. I loved her energy, respected her knowledge and felt like I was talking with an old friend.  Melanie also introduced me to my new OB and renewed my sense of confidence and excitement for the birth I was going to have in the coming 8 weeks.

My husband and I completely trusted Melanie, and with her by our side, we didn’t need to worry about any of the details of what was going on. I was allowed to just be in the moment and she made everything seemed fluid. It was like she was always anticipating what I needed and either made suggestions for things my husband could do to support me or quickly stepped in her self. Melanie encouraged me to keep going when I got scared, and taught me to trust my body to do what it was built to do.

We couldn't imagine going through labor without her and (hopefully) look forward to going through this journey with her again.

Posted 12/29/2015

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Melanie Cash

Melanie was our doula for the birth of my sweet Lion heart son on 10-08-15. Melanie checked in on me during the early hours of my labor and by the afternoon she was at the house. I was having a homebirth and several other mommas were birthing at the same time, therefore our wonderful midwife was traveling between our houses. Without Melanie being able to stay with us we may have been transferred to the hospital, for that alone I am so grateful. Melanie guided me in positions and was a huge support to my husband. Melanie and Nancy worked so well together. After the birth the two together had done laundry and cleaned up. You would have never know I had given birth aside from our beautiful bundle of love being earth side. Melanie was with us for over 12 hours. My husband and I both agree that having Melanie was essential to how well our birth went. 

Posted 12/21/2015

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Kate Ignatowski

It's difficult to put my admiration and appreciation for Melanie into words. Leading up to our delivery, Melanie was always available to talk through my worries and assure me that everything was going to be OK. And throughout our one on one classes I became as comfortable with her as if she was an old friend.

I ended up having a pretty long labor but it never felt like time was moving slowly. Melanie kept me occupied by changing positions often and she knew all these ways to move the contractions away from my back. She also worked so well with the nurse and gave my husband plenty of ways to be involved - it felt like everyone surrounding me was this amazing dream team and I felt so supported. 

I'm convinced I would have ended up in a C section (which I was trying my best to avoid) without Melanie. For so many reasons! Leading up to my 42 week induction date, Melanie gave me natural methods to try to kick start labor, and this eventually worked just hours before my induction. And then there is absolutely no way I could have managed the contractions as long as I did without her and would have gotten an epidural within a couple hours, which probably would have slowed my already very slow labor past the doctor's comfort level. Then after getting an epidural at 7-8 cm, Melanie pushed me to let it wear off while I pushed so I could be more effective. I would not have had the strength to do this on my own.

Melanie pushed me to do more than I thought I could do, and she did so in a calm, confident manner. Always encouraging me that things were progressing and showing me that she believed in me. My husband and I trusted her completely and we both couldn't imagine going through labor without her.

Posted 12/8/2015

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Jenny Pedraza

My third baby, second unmedicated birth and first time using a doula! Melanie was an integral part of this birth experience. She took the worry and stress away from the husband and allowed him to just support me. She was a beautiful, graceful force during labor, calmly orchestrating my birth plan and whispering little tips that I think made all the difference. Melanie was a huge part of why this birth was a powerful experience - one I experienced fully and without fear. Thank you Melanie - may many, many more mamas have you at their side when meeting their babies <3

Posted 12/7/2015

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Robyn Pickering

Melanie changed the course of my husband and my pregnancy and birth. We contacted her at 36 weeks pregnant hoping that she could help us pursue a more natural birth. She took us on even though she was fully booked and encouraged us to switch to a doctor with a lower intervention approach. We followed her direction and had an amazing, natural experience. During the weeks leading up to labor she was so supportive and made trips to our home to help me start labor. In the hospital she was fully supportive of both me and my husband. Through 15 hours of active labor she walked me through different exercises and techniques to help our baby. Even though we had to go through with an emergency C-section, she scrubbed in with us and helped explain what was happening and continued to encourage us through the procedure. She took pictures of our first moments with our daughter and facilitated skin-to-skin time and breast feeding right away. After birth she continued to support all three of us and had answers and resources for any questions we've had. We love Melanie so much and could not have asked for a better doula to help us though our birth.

Posted 12/1/2015

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Heather Micklos

Melanie was the most extraordinary guide, teacher, and more importantly, friend throughout our birthing journey. She was essential to the success of our preganancy, projecting amazing energy and keen wisdom that was real talk, instilling us with confidence that helped sheild us from uncertainties and the opinions the outside world can impose on you during this time. My husband and I cannot say enough good things about the learnings and community we discovered during Melanie's A Brighter Birth classes, and felt even more blessed that she would be our personal deulah, fully preparing us for the magical experience of child birth. Melanie is an fantastic mother in her own right and fully shares the knowledge she has gained from her personal experiences along with the understanding of how a woman's body and being transforms during pregnancy. She is a strong advocate for the natural process of birthing, but it is also very aware that circumstances can make parents' initial plans change. She is stellar at helping couples navigate these potential obstacles and also making sure that they know all options at their disposal, empowering new and repeat parents alike.

Melanie was meant do exactly what she is doing - mentoring and educating people on the full birthing experience. And she does so with the wamrnest heart and unparalleled grace.

 

- Heather, Ryan & Rune Micklos

Posted 11/26/2015

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Lauren Mathews

We commited to working with Melanie after a positive first meet-up over coffee, not realizing how instrumental she was at VCU, where we would be giving birth.  We also chose to take her 1-day Brighter Birth class, which was a great fit for us.  It was so helpful for us to be able to move through early labor at home using techniques from the class, before we even asked Melanie to come join us for active labor.

During our meetings ahead of the birth, I was impressed with Melanie's balance of both knowledge and a willingness to conceal her own personal opinions and give us space to decide what was best for our birth.  She helped raised questions for my husband and I to think through together that moved beyond just labor itself to considering early life with a baby.

Melanie was absolutely key in my ability to achieve my goals for a natural birth.  Looking back, I can't even think when I would have asked for an epidural in the process. I had been so lukewarm in my commitment to "resisting" the epidural, but in the end it somehow never entered my mind. I attribute this entirely to my support team, who were there to build my confidence early on. Melanie's familiarity with birth assured me that the frightening pressure I was feeling was actual the labor itself, and that I was quite safe (not just to feel it, but to actually let my body go "down" with it!)  She was such a steady presence that I never panicked.

It was during pushing that I was most impressed by the teamwork between Melanie and my midwife Amber.  Their communication with each other was seamless and they were able to effectively explain to me how to push, in a very few words.  What a benefit to have a doula who has such familiarity with the midwife who would deliver our baby!

Posted 7/22/2015

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Samantha Harvell

Melanie is an absolute ray of sunshine and yet an incredibly calming presence all at the same time. From the moment we met her, we felt like she was an old friend and knew that she was the one to help us create the experience we hoped for with our second birth and felt we missed out on with the first. Melanie helped us actively think through what was important to us and worked with us to make sure we achieved it. Having had an unexpectedly quick labor the first time, one of my biggest concerns was making the call about when to go to the hospital - we didn't want to rush in at every false alarm but I also didn't want to have my daughter in the car. Melanie worked with me through a couple of false alarms and the final decision on the morning I actually did go into labor. Her support was invaluable during labor and I was only half kidding when I told her that the scented cool cloths she provided (somehow at precisely the right moments!) were more than worth her fee alone. They are amazing! But, though things went generally according to plan during labor, I had a very difficult time breastfeeding. I honestly believe that I would not still be nursing today without her support and guidance. She empowered me to keep going and was available whenever I needed her in those first few weeks to listen, provide support and offer advice. Melanie is knowledgeable, compassionate, and caring. I cannot recommend her highly enough.

Posted 7/13/2015

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kong nou

We met Melanie through her class and at the time, my wife and I were undecided on a Doula. We had talked about not even having a Doula because we just weren't sure about having another person in our delivery room. Once we met Melanie, we instantly connected with her and felt super comfortable. She is not only passionate and very knowledgeable about the birth process, she's also super comforting, friendly and most importantly, loving. Immediately we wanted her to be our Doula but wanted her to be our friend too! A friend is exactly who she turned out to be. After taking her class and our appointments together, my wife and I felt so confident and empowered about our birth. I don't need to get into the details of our birth but like so many, ours did not go as planned. Being able to talk to Melanie about our birth experience has helped us so much. You honestly can not put a price or a title on what Melanie is able to provide. Yes you can hire her as your Doula, but if you're lucky like us, you'll make an amazing friend as well. Can't recommend her enough.

Posted 7/6/2015

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Kelly and Bill Hartland

Before she even introduced herself, I knew Melanie was exactly the doula we needed.  She carries with her both a grounded presence and divine connection that empowers the entrance of new life.  Her fearlessness and sincerity present themselves in a manner which allowed my husband and I to experience victory and healing through a natural vbac, after a previous c section and infant loss.  Melanie is dynamic in that she balances the spectrum of leadership and servanthood, attuning to your family's needs at any given moment.  I left my first meeting with her with the realization that her immense skill would fuel our highest good.  With full confidence, I reccommend Melanie Headley. 

Posted 4/9/2015

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Francesca Jones

Our birth experience was everything I wanted, and so much is due to Melanie's presence. My husband and I had prepared for an unmedicated childbirth and knew we wanted a doula that would help us achieve that goal. We met with Melanie several times before going into labor and she helped put any concerns we had at ease. Once I was in labor, she was with us every step of the way; first by text and phone in the early stages while I labored at home and then at the hospital she was fantastic. She kept my husband and I relaxed and focused and we were able to have the most amazing birth experience. Her post-partum visit was a great help in making sure things were going well with breastfeeding as well. We highly recommend Melanie!!!

Posted 4/8/2015

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melissa roberts

Melanie was such an incredible part of my pregnancy and labor. She is kind, supportive, loving, and experienced. This was my first pregnancy, and because of that I had a lot of fear and intimidation. Luckily, Melanie taught me that everything about my body, pregnancy, and labor was natural and beautiful. Because of her support and wisdom I was able to feel confident and excited. With her advice and assistance I had a lovely, peaceful, and drug free birth. 

Having a doula was really comforting. I knew that I could count on Melanie to answer all of my questions... no matter how silly. I felt comfortbale reaching out to her at any time and she would always find time to be there for me.

She supported my husband as much as me....before, during, and after the labor. She radiates a calm and confidence that is contagious during birth. My husband felt that, with her guidance, he could do and say all the things that I needed during my most intense moments. 

She is really passionate about birth...and that passion gives her and endless love for every momma she encounters. She truly understands how special this experience is for a woman, and sincerely gives herself to help the experience become what it deserves to be...magical!

 

Posted 4/7/2015

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Amber Mueller

When I found out that I was pregnant with twins as a first time mom, I knew that I wanted the support of a doula to help navigate the many unknowns of a high risk pregnancy and labor. While attending a “Meet the Doulas” event where I was specifically looking for someone experienced with the birth of multiples, Melanie’s name kept coming up. From my very first interaction with her over email, I found Melanie to be warm, kind, knowledgable and supportive. When my husband and I met with Melanie, it was clear that she was the right person to invite into our journey and birth. After a few conversations, we decided to transfer care providers. Because Melanie helped us feel better prepared to ask the right questions at each of our appointments, we felt that we did everything in our power to set ourselves up for the type of birth experience we truly wanted, including working with the midwives which is not a standard practice with twins. Taking Melanie’s 6 week Lamaze class also proved to be a wonderful experience in that it not only further solidified the trust we had in Melanie as our doula, but allowed us to meet other parents-to-be and share our fears and hopes with those on a similar path. Although very little of my 32 hour labor and delivery went according to plan, Melanie was a constant source of encouragement and calm, supporting my husband and I in talking through several intense, time-sensitive decisions. We felt cared for and ended up having two perfect, healthy 6 lb. 8 oz. babies. Melanie even captured both of their births on our camera, something that we will always be thankful for. Her postpartum home visit was critical in helping me process their birth and work through some questions that I had as a new mom. You can’t control your birth, but you can be sure that if you hire Melanie as your doula, you will be supported every single step of the way. I can’t say enough about how thankful my husband and I are for her.

Posted 12/2/2014

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Sarah Q Elkins

Melanie is such a supportive, grounding, and caring doula.  After taking her sage advice to switch to a midwife practice that would support my birth plan, my pregnancy really turned around.  I went from feeling scared about the birthing process, to feeling educated and prepared.  My labor was quite fast and Melanie made sure my midwife and the hospital were ready for me when we arrived.  Among the countless things she assisted with during my labor - she applied soothing counter pressure, decorated my birthing tub to be a serene environment, provided much-needed encouragement and even took care of me afterwards!  My only regret is nto meeting her sooner in my pregnancy.  She is truly an amazing person and a wonderful, loving presence during one of the most important events of your life.

Posted 12/2/2014

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Ashley Tracy

Melanie was born to be a doula. She's incredibly intelligent, patient, strong, and a fantastic listener. With just a few short questions, she was able to grasp the type of birth experience we wanted, never impeding with judgement or alternate beliefs. She knew when to be strong; she knew when to be gentle; she knew when to step back, and; she knew when to step forward - all without instruction, allowing me to labor. I cannot promise future clients that she can guaranteeingly provide you with the exact labor experience you want (no one can!), but I can promise, without hesitation, that you will be SO grateful Melanie Headley was in the room while you were laboring your child into the world. 

Thank you SO much, Melanie! You mean more to me and my family than you could know!

-Ashley T.

Posted 12/2/2014

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Meredyth Jenkins

We interviewed about seven doulas at a "Meet the Doulas" event. After all the interviews, I searched doula match, read each doula's individual websites and still kept putting off a decision (and I'm a planner). When we finally did make a decision, the doula we selected was no longer available. Sometimes things just work out that way...and sometimes it's a blessing.

When I met Melanie, I immediately trusted her - I felt loved, comforted and assured that she could help my husband and I through this journey. Did it matter that she would be on vacation during my due date?!? It didn't. I trusted her and her judgement that much that she would assure my husband and I would have an experienced doula by our side.

Our two prenatal visits were wonderful! We learned so much just by talking in the comfort of our own home - about the stages of labor, what to expect but also about ourselves and how I wanted to be supported. Melanie checked in often through calls, emails and texts genuinely wanting to know how I felt and how things were progressing.

My labor didn't go according to plan (albeit most don't) but my baby arrived safely with few medical interventions 29 hours after being admitted to the hospital from my doctor's office. I felt knowledgable, comfortable and confident in the decisions we made throughout the process. That made becoming a first time mom easy (an odd word to choose when talking about labor but truly I could focus on my baby and not second guess anything once she arrived). The postpartum visit felt like a reunion. While only three days had passed, we had changed so much. Melanie helped me with breastfeeding (specifically finding a position that worked best for me and baby) and answered any and all questions we had.

Needless to say, if I find myself in need of another doula I won't need any interviews - we're hiring Melanie.

Posted 12/1/2014

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Jay N Kate

Melanie is amazing. Hire Her. I didn’t think I wanted a doula (my husband and I are both private, I didn’t want one more person to have to talk to/share with, I didn’t want a cheerleader or someone to tell me I was doing a good job), I set out to hire one only because the midwives I was seeing told me they liked their first time moms to have one. Then we met Melanie. We hired her on the spot because she felt like a friend. I didn’t want to have to share with a stranger or invite a stranger into our space but Melanie from day one felt like she belonged in our family. She was warm and genuine and approachable. She is realistic but also GENUINELY positive, we never felt like we were being sold leprechauns and unicorns but she was a refreshing change from the reaction you usually get when you tell people your goal is unmediated childbirth. Melanie made my husband and I BOTH feel like “we can do this” having her in the room when I was in labor was priceless. She helped my husband help me. He never felt replaced or removed from the process and I never felt like I wasn’t fully supported by both of them. She had solutions for everything – counter pressure, cold rags (that smelled amazing and helped get rid of the vomit smell), ideas for hiding my IV (which grossed me out), ideas about positions and movement. With Melanie and my husband there to support me, I never once asked for pain medication, never once felt like “I can’t do this” and never once thought “we’re never having another baby”… If you don’t want to buy into the horror stories that immediately begin surfacing when people find out your pregnant, if you want to trust your body and want to feel like you are going into labor with a full tool box, hiring Melanie will be one of the best decisions you make.

Posted 12/1/2014

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Mary Beth Foust

My husband Caleb and I attended A Brighter Birth Wham Bam class early in the summer and after being in class with Melanie I knew I had to see if she was avaialble in November to take me on as a client. I must say, hiring Melanie to walk alongside us in the process of the last trimester and labor/delivery of our baby girl was the best gift we gave ourselves. She was so calm and confident in my ability to carry, labor and deliver intervention free. I was so thankful to have her listening ear as I walked through the last weeks of my pregnancy sharing my concerns and general updates. I would not have wanted to labor without her! (She even took my placenta home to her freezer, if that's not love and care I'm not sure what is)! She gave my husband support and helped me to stay focused and calm by offering encouragement and a warm presence. We were also so glad for her post-partum visit to check in and help with breastfeeding. Again, she was sure of my body and gave me confidence in my first days as a new momma and for that I am so gratetful. Give yourself the gift of Melanie as your Doula-- you won't regret it!

Posted 12/1/2014

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Jeanna Chapman

Melanie is fantastic. She is very approachable and easy to talk to.  Throughout my pregnancy, she was easy to get in touch with. I intended for her to be at my side while I labored, but my son had other plans.  My water broke while I was in New Hampshire. Melanie was in touch with my husband by phone and by text throughout my labor.  She helped my husband communicate with the medical staff in an unknown hospital and advocate for our birthing preferences. She gave my husband tips to help him guide me through my labor. Even though she wasn't physically there, she was integral part in the successful natural birth of my son.  After our family returned home, she came for a visit. She helped me wade through my questions about breastfeeding and postpartum life.  I highly recommend hiring her for your doula!

Posted 11/30/2014

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Eva Wilson

She saved us, 

Labor at home went as expected for baby number two. It was faster than our first but manageable. When we felt it was time to go, we called Melanie to get her insight. She decided to meet us at home. When she arrived she knew that we needed to leave ASAP. She could tell by the way I was posturing during labor that I was feeling pressure and baby was really working its way down. We got in the car and ten minutes later my water broke. We parked at the hospital, she brought a wheel chair and we ran into VCU. During the running I could feel the baby crown. As we got into the elevator Melanie assessed my backside and discovered that the baby was coming. She then placed her hands on me to support me and the baby. She then paged my midwife who ran to meet us at the elevator. As we got to L&D and came off the elevator my midwife saw the impending birth, told me to push and out came my baby while I was riding backwards in the wheel chair in the hallway. Without Melanie's fast action, assessment, constant communication with my providers and wisdom my husband would have deliveried our baby girl in the car, lobby, elevator or even at home. Cosidering that my baby was wrapped up in her cord would have made any of the other possibilities very dangerous. Melanie was our Devine intervention. She knows what to do, when to do it and how to do it. She is as asset to any birth plan and can handle any situation with swift action and wisdom. 

Posted 11/30/2014

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mac janney

Melanie Headley is an angel. My wife and I believe that not as a comparison, but as an absolute truth. Melanie has so much love in her heart, and the unique ability to express that love through her caring work. Speaking from the perspective of the husband throughout the pregnancy and into the actual birth, I can say with absolute certainty that the entire process was not only "easier", but illuminating because of Melanie's work in the class and in the hospital. Her presence is always calming, reassuring, nurturing and positive. We feel so blessed to have had Melanie's presence, both physical and spiritual, with all of us in the room when our daughter was born. She made friends for life with all three of us because of the angel that she is, and the way she lives her work. We would strongly endorse Melanie's Brighter Birth class, as well as her doula expertise to any family focused on having a meaningful birthing experience. 

Posted 7/15/2014

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Kristin Richardson

Thanks to Melanie Headley as my doula, I was able to deliver my baby girl vaginally after 24 hours of labor. If it were not for Melanie, her educating me on the value of switching to a midwife practice, her childbirth classes, and her being by my husband's and my side during labor, then I surely would have ended up having a c-section after not progressing enough the first 16 hours. 

Melanie empowered my husband and me with information that helped us make more confident and educated decisions. She emotionally and physically was there for us throughout our pregnancy and during labor to help us understand what was normal, plus teach and remind us of our tools in our metaphorical toolbox. I cannot imagine going through pregnancy withour her class or through labor without her. I'm sure my husband would feel the same way as she was always there providing him with support and ideas on how to help me the most.

If we are blessed to bring another child into this world, then Melanie will definitely be by our side again. Thank you, Melanie!  You will forever be a part of our family.

Posted 7/14/2014

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Jamie Miller

Melanie is such a warm, compassionate person and extremely knowledgeable about labor, birth, and postpartum. My husband and I hired her as our doula and also took her class, A brighter Birth, when it was recommended independently to us by a midwife (who didn't even know that we had already hired Melanie as our doula!) A Brighter Birth is a really useful class whether you have decided to hire a doula or not because it combines the best aspects of several other birth classes (such as Bradley and Lamaze) as well as introducing you to basic knowledge of different interventions, coping techniques, etc, while focusing on working together as a team to bring your little one into the world.
We felt much more well prepared for our daughter's birth after completing it!

As a doula, Melanie made me feel so comfortable at every stage. She is so warm, caring, and knowledgeable. Before and during baby girl's birth, she focused on helping my husband help me, rather than taking his place, but during the birth she also had tons of tricks up her sleeve to help me, including positions to help make my contractions more productive, oils, mouthwash for after I threw up- and even holding the bag for me while I was throwing up! She also went way beyond what we expected a Doula to do for us by finding a breast milk donor for us when I had to pump and dump for a day due to a medication and offering to photograph the birth for us wihtout charging anything extra, which I am so glad I let her do.

I would definitely recommend both Melanie's doula services and her class. Our family was so blessed by her!

Posted 7/12/2014

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Jamie Cafarella

Melanie in a word...AMAZING! Melanie was our doula for our 3rd pregnancy, my previous 2 pregnancies were c-sections and I knew from the beginning I wanted this birth to be different. I had my heart set on a drug-free VBAC and wanted to do everything I could to be successful! So, I hired Melanie as my Doula, switched care providers at 34 weeks to the VCU Midwives, and attended Melanie's "A Brighter Birth" class. My husband and I left her class feeling very prepared about what to expect with a natural labor. Melanie was there for us, every step of the way! You would think having been pregnant before, I would be a pro at realizing when labor was coming on, but not the case! I went 5 days past my due date and felt like I was texting with Melanie constantly during that time, she was so patient with me, reassuring me this baby would come when she was ready, and that my body was capable of a vaginal delivery! June 23rd my water broke at home around 11:30 p.m. contractions came on fast! By the time we got to the hospital my contractions were 2 min. apart and I was 4 cm. dialated. Melanie arrived at the hospital almost exactly when we did, she began stringing up her christmas lights and was right by my side, helping me breathe and manage my pain. around 3:45 a.m. I said "I need to push"!! The midwives checked me, and sure enough it was time! I will never forget Melanie taking my hand and saying "Do you realize what this means? You've made it, you are going to do this, you are going to push your baby out"- it was one of those moments you never forget. Her job wasn't over though, she helped me find a comfortable position to push in and coached me through my pushes. Encouraging me the whole time, and at 4:20 a.m. I successfully pushed my baby girl out! The whole experience was amazing! Melanie was a rock for me in that delivery room, and I just cant thank her enough for the experience she helped me achieve!

Posted 7/11/2014

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Kara Miller

We are tremendously grateful to have had Melanie with us for the birth of our twins and for her support and guidance during the pregnancy and as we are getting to know our babies. Melanie has a warm, positive, and calming demeanor, which was perfect for helping us manage the intensity and varying emotions of pregnancy and childbirth. Melanie is well-informed about pregnancy and childbirth, and we appreciated that she focused on helping us become as informed and aware as possible. She asked questions to understand our goals, rather than making assumptions, and she encouraged us to consider different decision points we may encounter and to discuss them with our doctors, always with the goal of improving our understanding of the process and learning facts needed to make informed decisions. Melanie was extremely flexible and available to us, working around our sometimes inflexible schedules, and she is very perceptive and was good at adapting to our personalities and assessing how best to present information and how much we could take in at any one time. My husband and I felt completely comfortable with Melanie. The delivery of our babies was an intense and wonderful experience, and we are very happy that Melanie was part of our team.

Posted 10/19/2013

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Mary-Margaret Kim

We found Melanie late in my second pregnancy when we decided to pursue an unmedicated birth. She immediately took me on and was incredibly supportive. I spoke with her the night before my 34 week appointment. We found out that the baby was breech the next day. She maintained contact with me and gave me methods to try to encourage the baby to flip, which he did! So we were on! We met with Melanie in our home for two meetings that were scheduled around our hectic lives in the evenings at our home. This was really nice because our 2yo daughter became very comfortable with her. The baby decided to arrive 4 days late, but Melanie steadfastly checked on me via text and phone. And when my labor day started, she was available as often as I needed her, coming up with workable plans that kept me focused and confident. When the time came to go to the hospital, she met us there late at night, strung her mood lighting in the L&D suite, and was the ultimate team player. She supported me and my husband through one of the most intense experiences of our lives, leading up to the birth of our beloved son. She stayed for quite some time after the birth, making sure that he latched on properly and just genuinely celebrating the joy that we all had after his delivery. She made a postpartum visit to our home on day of life 5, providing breastfeeding assistance and a chance to debrief our birth experience. I am so grateful to Melanie for her help as our doula – she is a superb professional with a lot of experience, patience, and passion about what she does.

Posted 9/13/2013

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ashton tower

When my husband and I started thinking about having babies we started researching birth and a friend of ours recommended the documentary called "The Business of Being Born." After watching we decided that natural birth was the way for us! soon after we transferred our prenatal care to the mcv midwives and right away loved the care there. Through the centering program there I learned even more about natural birth and the tropic of having a doula was brought up (for more info on centering pregnancy go to: http://www.obgyn.vcu.edu/pregnancy/). It was through the wisdom of the midwives about the importance of a doula that we began the search that led us to the wonderful doula Melanie! She came highly recommended by the midwives and other doulas and after meeting her we knew she was a match! The saying is true that the experience/training of a doula isn't the most important what is important is that the doula's personality click with yours and your husband's and that was the case with Melanie. She was kindhearted, very wise, super bubbly and passionate and the thing that hit it home was that she said she wasn't there to replace my husband, but to support him as he supported me and that was crucial for me. It was a joy to have her as a doula throughout my pregnancy, labor and even after. The two prenatal visits prior she helped us come up with a birth plan, talk through positions, come up with affirmations and just walk through the different stages and how my husband could support me through affirmations, messages, pelvic pressure and positions. Then as the day drew near she was a great support through text messages filled with encouragement. Check out our birth story for more details on Melanie's awesome support during labor http://kyletower.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/aurora-belles-birth-story/ .Even after giving birth she has been a great resource and friend! We just love Melanie and hope to have her as our doula for all our other babies in the future! 

Posted 9/4/2013

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Lauren Greene Lucas

After taking the bradley method birth class my husband and I decided it would be best to hire a doula since we are first time parents and the extra support would be the best option for us to have a natural birth.  We went off the recommendations of our teacher and interviewed 3 doulas. I immediately felt comfertable with Melanie like she was a friend or sister and that is the most important factor, afterall your inviting her to a very intimate moment in your life.  Not to mention she has her own birth class, is a lactation consultant, and has given birth to 4 childern on her own she is more than qualified to handle anyones needs.  She just has a very warm, caring, and outgoing personality that is very easy to get along with.  Melanie came to our house for one of our pre-birth visits and went over all of our wants and needs and was very supporitve and reassuring for both my husband and me. On the big day I labored at home and we met melanie and our midwife at the hospital.  I was only at the hospitial for an hour before our son was born so I had a very fast birth but, I can honestly say I couldnt have done it without out Melanie. I was scared and panicked at the hospital and Melanie came in and was very calming, and reassured me everything that was happening was normal.  She provided the tools to help my husband help me and made sure we were working as a team together.  She was there but not obtrusive, she was calming but not meek or mild,  she stepped in and helped me when she knew I needed her and backed away when I didnt.  After the birth she stayed in our room for awhile to make sure everything went fine with nursing and then came to our house for a post-birth visit to re-cap and make sure everything was going ok.  I highly recommed you interview Melanie as I'm sure you'll fall in love with her as we did.  She will make the best day of your life even better and congratulations in advance!  

Posted 8/29/2013

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Bethanie Constant

We are so glad that we found Melanie and asked her to join our journey to and through birth. We interviewed five doulas (we recommend you do too) and Melanie clicked with us right away. We found her real, approachable, non-judgmental, fun yet calm. Of course, Melanie is knowledgeable in all things birth - being a mother of four has certainly helped her with that. We were looking for a combination of smarts and the right personality; she was the perfect match for us.

We met at 34 and 37 weeks to prepare for our son's birth day. At each appointment talked about important issues and how we were feeling. The interactions with Melanie were positive and focused on both of us, my husband and I, which was important to me. I knew that having a doula was just as vital for him and his birth experience as it was for me.

When Silas decided to come into the world, my labor was so fast that Melanie joined us at the hospital. She helped us through a quick, natural, vaginal, breech birth. Because Silas was breech, we were not able to have dimmed lights with only our midwife. Instead, we had bright lights and a team of about 11 people in the delivery room. Melanie helped get pillows to support my back better on the uncomfortable bed. She also got ice for me as I was quite thirsty and hot, and fed the ice to me on a spoon. She helped support Chris he was probably stressing more than anticipated because of the change in circumstances.

Following the birth Melanie stayed with us for about 2 hours to make sure that breastfeeding went well. To top that off she even gave my mom a ride home.

We definitely recommend Melanie Headley as a doula and we are happy to have her be a part of Silas’s birth story.

 

 

 

Posted 8/27/2013

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Brooks Whitten

Melanie was a dream to work with! Having taken her birth class, my husband and I felt incredibly comfortable with her. She was available to us at any point, and was at the hospital in what felt like no time when we needed her. Having Melanie as part of our support system definitely played a pivotal role in helping us have the amazing birth experience that we did.

My husband's experience throughout everything was absolutely awesome- due in large part to Melanie's ability to read her clients and make sure their needs are being met in a very comfortable and supportive way.

I felt so cared for and respected throughout the entire process, and would recommend a Melanie as an awesome doula to anyone! 

 

Posted 6/1/2013

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Sarah Occident

Didier and I first met Melanie through the A Brighter Birth six-week course. From the very beginning Melanie’s contagious joy and spirit towards all things birth-related were so inspiring. I remember leaving the first class feeling so energized, and that was directly related to the passion Melanie has for nurturing and guiding people through what can be, at times, an overwhelming experience, especially for first-time parents such as we were. Melanie’s energy, wisdom, and personal experience, having birthed four beautiful children herself, encouraged us to ask Melanie if she would be a part of our journey, and thankfully she accepted!

When we learned our baby was breech, Melanie’s connectedness to the Richmond birth community really became invaluable. As a doula, birth educator, lactation counselor, and contributing voice of the Tribecast, Melanie has access to so many resources. Knowing how dedicated we were to natural childbirth, Melanie guided us to an OB who was willing to support us through a natural vaginal breech birth. At 39 weeks, when I was feeling most vulnerable, Melanie supported us by reminding us that the best thing we could do for our family was to be informed consumers. If we had not had the support and guidance of Melanie during this time, we most likely would have been forced to have a birth experience very different from what we envisioned and hoped for. Instead, we had a perfectly beautiful, empowering birth at the hospital—something I originally would have told you sounded like an oxymoron, but with Melanie’s gentle wisdom and encouragement became a reality.

Our family is blessed to have found someone so dedicated to helping people have “brighter births,” and we can’t wait for her to be a part of our future journeys.

Posted 4/8/2013

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