classes and support for birth and postpartum in RVA

I am a mom to two boys (born 2012 and 2014), a CAPPA certified postpartum doula, a ToLabor certified birth doula, and a Birthing From Within ® mentor (childbirth educator). I love learning all about birth and have completed training in preventing childbirth trauma, Spinning Babies optimal fetal positioning, acupressure for labor (trained by Keith Bell , a licensed acupuncturist). I hold a Master's in Teaching from VCU and a Master's in Fine Arts (Fiction Writing) from Emerson College. I feel like the Master's in Teaching helps me so much in this work, whether that is in doula prenatal visits or in childbirth education classes.  I am the 2017 chair of Richmond Doulas.

Birth Related Trainings and Workshops Attended
*ToLabor Professional Birth Doula Training
*Preventing Childbirth Trauma Workshop

*Birthing From Within Intro Mentor Workshop
*Spinning Babies Training
*Neonatal Resucitation Certified

*Completed ToLabor Birth Doula certification
*CAPPA postpartum doula training
*Acupressure for Labor with Keith Bell,an internationally recognized expert in holistic health and Licensed Acupuncturist 

*ToLabor Training on Perinatal Loss and Traumatic Grief, taught by Karla Helbert, LPC
*Infant, Pediatric & Adult CPR & AED certified, American Heart Association
​*Completed CAPPA postpartum doula certification

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client testimonials

I am the mother of two young boys, and the wife of an outdoorsy family man.  In 2010, before I was even pregnant with my first son, I completed the reading for ToLabor birth doula certification. For some reason, I was just so drawn to this topic and couldn’t read enough or learn enough about it. I feel like the childbearing year is the place where critical literacy, narratives, myth making, rituals, feminism, family, self-determination, personal growth, and so much more all intersect in such an amazing way. I completed graduate school in writing and teaching and began working in Richmond Public Schools as a high school English teacher only eight weeks after giving birth to my first son in 2012. 

My first birth concreted my desire to learn more about birth work. I wanted to provide the same reassuring and grounding presence I felt from my birth doula for other families, and so I finally attended the ToLabor birth doula workshop in 2014, four years after completing the reading list! My postpartum period, with cracked nipples, sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, and returning to work full time as a new teacher at eight weeks postpartum, motivated me to become a postpartum doula. I had my second son in late 2014, using the Birthing From Within book and birth art to process my first birth emotionally, and I completed training in teaching this philosophy in 2015 as well as postpartum doula training in 2016 and postpartum doula certification in 2017. I love learning all about birth and have completed training in preventing childbirth trauma, Spinning Babies optimal fetal positioning, acupressure for labor (trained by Keith Bell, a licensed acupuncturist,) and perinatal loss.

You have already come to love your baby; you already feel the constant presence of your child inside your body. Soon, your arms will be full. Your child will arrive, though you know she or he has been there all along. Through compassionate and honest birth preparation and postpartum support, I feel that birth and postpartum trauma can be minimized and parents can enter this new stage of their life (whether this is their first baby or their fifth) with curiosity and an openness to being present in the moment and for the journey, wherever that journey may take them. Looking out for you while you step over the threshold into parenthood is a service that I am honored and humbled to provide.  
 I feel like I should emphasize here that hiring a doula does not mean you need to be committed to an unmedicated birth. Prenatally, we can discuss your goals as well as practice pain coping methods for breakthrough pain, which can occur in approximately 55.5% of women laboring with epidurals (Hess et al., 2001). Every birth is a rite of passage.
A doula's role is not to replace the partner. Rather, the doula supports the partner'€s needs as well, enabling him or her to support the laboring woman fully. 

Hess, P.E. et al. (2001). Predictors of breakthrough pain during labor epidural analgesia. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 93(2), 414-418. 
Birth Philosophy
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Tel: 804-399-1135
Email: cat.ennis@gmail.com
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I used Cat for my Doula with my first baby born Dec '16. She was a wonderful doula, friend, instructor for birthing class and I would highly recommend her! We had 2 prenatal appointments with her which were very helpful and helped us feel more prepared for labor. She very responsive and reached out often to see how I was doing both physically & mentally. When my water broke and we contacted her she was ready to go. I preferred to labor at home with just my husband for several hours but as soon as we wanted her to come over she did. I had a gruelly 25.5 hr labor and she was amazing throughout the whole process. She never even seemed tried. Very upbeat and helpful. She helped me through powerful contractions as well as coaching us or offering advice based on what our midwife or nurse would say. She took wonderful birth notes which are nice to have to reflect on the experience. She was also prepared with applesauce packets. My birth did not go as expected (do they ever?!) and after 17 hrs I never progressed past 4cm so I got pitocin and an epidural. Even though I didn't have the nautral birth I wanted I had a wonderful birth and Cat was a big part of it. She is modest with her "amateur" photography and truly takes beautiful photos!! She took amazing photos during our birth that I'll cherish forever and even more beautiful photos when she came back to the hopsital (after a 25.5hr birth!) that I just love so much. She even brought us coffee cake and mother's milk tea when she came back to the hospital to check on us and take more photos. 
We also took her "birthing from within" 6 wk class which we thoroughly enjoyed. We liked the interactive, hands-on structure of the class and it used both right & left brain thinking. My husband and I both felt we learned a great deal from the class. 
Cat was a fanstastic doula and is such a sweet person and I can't recommend her enough. We loved her!

-K., December, 2016

Cat was essential to my pregnancy and birth process. She made herself available and accessible any time I needed her. We participated in the birthing class as well and it was so comforting even to just talk to other pregnant women and those that have conquered natural birth! When I approached full term, I was surrounded by people that discouraged me from my unmedicated goal, but Cat always filled me with courage. I would say that my "birth word" through the whole experience was "safe." The moment we made it to the hospital room, she made the atmosphere visually and emotional comforting and safe. Cat has an incredible gift of making you feel calm even when you have a storm going on inside. My husband originally didn't understand why anyone would need a doula and after our experience, he said her help was irreplaceable. I had a very unique labor, but once my water broke, it was like diving over a cliff and everything happened very quickly. Both she and my husband constantly reminded me that I was not only strong enough, but I was doing what I needed to do. In the end, I was able to reach my goal and delivered a gorgeous baby boy! Even postpartum, I felt like I could run to her if I was overwhelmed. She really advocated for me and I felt that I had the best team I could ask for. 
​--L., February 2016

This was my 3rd baby and first hiring a postpartum doula. We purchased a 20 hour package and decided to start when my partner went back to work to help ease the transition. She is such a sweet and lovely person to have around. She helped with my older kids and did light chores around the house. She even wore my baby for periods of time so I could take a long hot shower (probably my favorite part!). I think one awesome benefit was being able to lie back and nurse my baby while not worrying about laundry for that day. And I liked having some time alone with my boys to tuck them into bed on nights that my partner was at work. Bedtime was a little harried with 3 kids!! I would highly recommend her to anyone. 
-G., November 2016
Cat was easy-going and supportive of the decisions we made as a family that were best for us in our situation. Our goal was to birth our son as a VBAC, but push back from our conservative doctor, as well as potentially high-risk situations (i.e., large for gestational age), made that decision difficult. Cat was wonderful in listenting to our concerns and providing evidence-based information useful to make an informed decision. Ultimately, my water broke prior to a planned C-birth date, allowing us to have a TOLAC that resulted in a VBAC. Cat's support and suggestions during labor and delivery were key, including suggestions to open my pelvis (peanut pillow), re-start a delayed labor using nipple stimulation rather than pitocin, and the use of effective strategies for pushing. These were integral in a successful VBAC with less medical intervention. Her kind and encouraging words were thoughtful and helpful. She brough a warmth to the room through her conversation during labor, as well as environmental changes to make the room more inviting (i.e., tea lights, Christmas lights, natural sunlight). In the end, Cat was very helpful in allowing us the power to choose our own L&D path, while providing non-judgemental support. We would highly recommend Cat to other families considering a VBAC or for any other birthing situations. Cat also linked us to several resources in the area both prenatally and postpartum. Her services also included two prenatal visits to discuss our birthing plan, provide evidenced based information, review of previous birth, and to discuss concerns. She also provided us text and email support, continuous support during L&D, birth, and immediately postpartum, and one postnatal visit. She took great birth notes and lovely L&D and newborn photographs that we will cherish. Her experiences as a veteran mom of two also was helpful in assuring us that we could also manage a second child! 
  --L., March 2016
When I first met Cat, I was amazed by just how gentle, sweet and very understanding she was. She was a superb listener making me feel at ease with my many feelings and emotions of having a natural birth of which I was very afraid of. She was extremely knowledgeable in the field and a wonderful source of information. At our meetings she would answer all the questions I had and later that day I would receive an email summarizing what we went over with very interesting related articles attached. She has a true passion for the beauty of pregnancy and labor that shows in her enthusiasm to help in every way she can.
When I reached 38 weeks in my pregnancy, Cat was on call for me. She never missed a beat at getting back to me asap via text, phone call, or email. I knew I could rely on her always being there. When I went into labor, I let Cat know right away. She reminded me many times that she was ready to come over whenever I needed her. 11 hours later, when my contractions were more intense, I was hesitant to ask her to come over and help me because it was 3 in the morning and I was embarrassed about the time. I thought I could ride it out on my own till a more decent hour. However, she made that decision of having her come over easy for me by telling me that she was packed and ready to head out the door and be on her way. I was relieved that she was more than willing and ready to be there at the drop of a hat.
Boy was I lucky that I decided she did come over and help me labor at home even if I had ways to go before heading to the hospital. She brought an energy of peace and calm into my home and gave me just the comfort and companionship I needed. At the hospital was no different. She was an angel at my side. She was a friend, a coach, a guidance, and a believer in me. I couldn't have endured the 27 hours of labor and the extreme intensity of it all without Cat. I very highly recommend her as a doula!! :)
  --L., March 2016
I am so thankful that my husband and I found Cat and that we chose her to be our doula.  Our first communication was less than a month before our baby was born.  From the beginning, Cat was calm, genuine, asked great questions and offered relevant information.  After our initial meetings, we had two more appointments scheduled in order to prepare for the birth.  We were able to keep our first appointment with her; but our baby was born three weeks early causing us to miss out on the second appointment.
My labor and delivery progressed and happened quickly - more quickly than I had anticipated or prepared for.  Cat wasn't with me in person for most of my labor (only because we didn't really realize how fast the labor was progressing, and we told her to hold off), but she was readily accessible by phone and willing to come as soon as we asked.  Once we decided to go to the hospital, she came to our house immediately and followed us to the hospital.  
I was only at the hospital for 20 minutes before the baby was born.  During that time, Cat worked to keep me calm and coach my husband on how to do the same.  She held one hand while my husband held the other, and they worked together to talk me through the contractions and the pushing stage.  
However, the thing I am most impressed with is the amount of "follow-up" that Cat has done.  She visited us in the hospital and then again at home.  She let me talk and tell my story.  She has continued to share information and invite me to relevant events.
It is obvious that Cat cares very much for this field.  We had a great experience!
--C., July 2015
Cat is an amazing doula. She was a tremendous source of information and support during my pregnancy and birth. She selflessly volunteered her time to do everything she could to support my birth. she was fully engaged, always listened, she was very encouraging, always ready with gentle suggestions and accurate information. She was never pushy and always supported my decisions. Cat is so passionate about birth and supporting the mother that it created a relationship of total comfort and trust with ease. She really goes above and beyond. I would be honored to have her as my doula again. 
  -J., August 2015
I would highly recommend Cat - she is a knowledgable and caring doula!  Regrettably, both Cat and my midwife missed the birth of my third child due to a very precipitous labor and birth!  Cat still came to the hospital and assisted in the first hour or so after birth and took some beautiful pictures for us.  True to her contract, she came to our home in the few weeks following our child's birth and fulfilled some hours as a postpartum doula.  We met three times prior to my due date to discuss the birth plan and she came equipped with knowledge from her own experiences but also helpful articles and insight.  My two and five year old daughters also enjoyed the time she spent in our home.  She  was reliable and a pleasure to work with - I would work with her again if this was not my last pregnancy!
-A., May 2015
Cat was amazing! She did a wonderful job supporting me and my husband through the process. My husband liked her once he understood her role and all. It sounds awful, but my husband isn't a people person, so if she won him over, she is a keeper. She was always researching and providing me with articles and tidbits of information so I could make the choice that was right for me. It wasn't about what she wanted or what she would do, it was about her helping me navigate my choices and having me pick where I was most comfortable. At our first meeting, I explained that I had some pretty terrible hip pain and within a few hours after leaving I had resources sent to my email about hip pain during pregnancy! She has a calming personality as well. Even when I was in the middle of labor and decided singing Adele and Taylor Swift with my sister was what I wanted to do, she just went with it. Most of my issues were problems with hospital logistics, not life threatening issues. She did a great job keeping me grounded and when I did ask for the epidural, she did exactly what I asked she do. She asked for the code word, and probed a little to find out why I was asking for it at that point, because I wasn't in transition. She supported my decisions. She also was very helpful by giving me healthy snacks. I vividly remember eating bits of a chocolate Cliff bar she had given me while I was in early labor. My water broke at 6:51am and Jace wasn't born until 1:49am the following day. She came to the hospital when I asked her and she stuck with it until he made his grand entrance. She even came to visit with her son while I was still in the hospital... that time she brought banana bread (see snacks!). Post labor she listened to me rant about what took place and was very empathetic. She had a pretty intense labor so if anyone understands what it feels like when things go unexpectedly, she is the one. I'd highly recommend her.
-J., May 2014

We had a wonderful experience with Cat. I was a little nervous about hiring a Doula when we first started looking into a more natural birth with a midwife, but I am so glad we did. My husband and I were both very comfortable talking to Cat about any issues that came up, and she always gave us evidence based information and guidance. She was available via email, text, and phone before the birth. As my due date got closer she kept the line of communication open so we could discuss issues/questions that came up after visits with the midwife and any concerns I had about labor. When my water broke, I was reached out to Cat in the middle of the night and after suggesting I try to rest more, she followed up an hour later and we agreed that I was in real labor and she should come to my home. Cat was very calm and reasuring throughout the whole process and would quickly jump in if my husband had to step away and a contraction started. She quietly let us labor at home, but kept track of timing contractions and monitoring how things were progressing. When it came time to call the hospital she was able to tell me the length of contractions and time in between, because I was not able to keep track any more. Once we got to the hospital she helped to set the mood in the delivery room and stayed by my side throughout the process. She was a constant reminder to breath, relax my face/shoulders, and to take sips of water whenever an opportunity was available. Whenever I got too focused on the intensity of the contractions or pushing, she would give words of encouragment that would refocus me to continue through the journey and to meet my baby. When looking back on the labor, my husband and I continue to think of how much help Cat was throughout the delivery. She knew what our vision was for our birth and advocated for us throughout the process. We would definitely suggest Cat as a doula to anyone and consider her for future births.
  -J., June 2016