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Stefanie Harrington

  • The Birth Hour Podcast featuring Doula Odile Penet

    Listen Here Birth Story: Sarah got pregnant very quickly with her daughter Savannah- so quickly it ended up being a shock even though it was planned. Sarah had an easy pregnancy physically, but experienced significant challenges and upheaval in her life during her pregnancy, and did not generally enjoy being pregnant. Sarah was terrified of giving birth but still planned an intervention-free hospital birth with her midwives and doula…”

  • There really are no words that will adequately describe how amazing Odile was for us. I could have never achieved the birth I wanted without her. She was our doula for the birth of our first child, a daughter, in December 2018. I took all the classes, read all the books, etc, but Odile was the best choice I made for my birth. My husband was completely on board with a doula but admitted he didn’t really understand what the point was. Afterwards he agreed she made all the difference for us and sang her praises as well. She just knew – she knew what to say, she knew how I needed to be coached, she knew when to encourage my husband, and she knew when to blend in to the background 🙂 . My midwife group sang her praises when I mentioned she would be our doula and when we got to the hospital everyone in our room greeted her by name – solidifying how amazing she is. As a bonus she took some pictures for us that are invaluable. My only regret is not hiring her as a postpartum doula.

  • A VBAC Story
    I started researching how to have the best chance for a successful VBAC immediately after my daughter was born via Cesarean section. My c-section was very unplanned and I did not realize how much I longed to experience a vaginal birth until I didn’t have that chance with my first baby. I did not put a lot of thought and planning into how I wanted my first birth to go. My “plan” was simply to go to the hospital and deliver the baby vaginally – I had no idea how many variables there are to giving birth and I certainly never thought in a million years that I would end up with a c-section, but I was not opposed to interventions and pain management. I ended up with the classic “cascade of interventions” – Foley bulb induction, Pitocin, and a very early epidural that resulted in me laying on my back for hours and hours. I fully dilated, but my daughter’s heart rate dropped every time that I pushed and it was discovered that her head was in an asynclytic position, meaning it was “tilted” to one side and unable to move through the birth canal. So, it was off to the OR for surgery to deliver her. I felt so much guilt over that experience, and I felt like I had missed out on experiencing her birth on my own terms. For a long time, I truly mourned for the vaginal birth that I didn’t get to have, so I vowed to do everything in my power to increase my chances for having a vaginal birth the second time around.
    There are many, many resources available that list numerous ways that a woman can prepare for a VBAC, but there are only a few ways that are within a woman’s control and are almost always mentioned: 1) Hire a Doula; 2) Get regular chiropractic care during pregnancy 3) See an acupuncturist during pregnancy; 4) Avoid medical interventions during labor and delivery; 5) Find a care provider who supports VBACs. I committed myself all of these things, and more! In addition to these 5 tips, many resources suggest things that are totally OUTSIDE of a woman’s control to increase the chance for a VBAC, like not carrying a very large baby (or, keeping weight gain to a minimum), making sure baby is in an optimal, head-down position, and not going past her due date. All that I could do within my control was a lot of walking, especially in the last few weeks of my pregnancy – all that walking (including hills!) not only helped keep my pregnancy weight gain within the suggested normal range, but being upright and active is a great way for the body to move the baby into an optimal position. I also tried several natural induction methods as I approached full-term, in an effort to not go too far past my due date – I ate a ton of fresh pineapple and dates to soften my cervix, I drank 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea every day to strengthen my uterus, and yes I’ll say it – had lots and lots of sex! There is a saying that the best way to get the baby out is by using the same method that got it in there 🙂
    Additionally, I had the emotional support of my husband, our families, friends, my midwives, and my Doula, Odile, who all believed in me. I gave myself a lot of encouragement by reading positive VBAC stories online and listening to positive VBAC and other birth stories on an amazing podcast called The Birth Hour.  I watched The Business of Being Born – boy do I wish I had seen that documentary before my first birth! With this second pregnancy, I had so much more of an understanding of what my birth preferences were, and my birth “plan” evolved so that I was much more prepared to articulate my wants and needs during labor. I also had to work on mentally preparing myself to have a natural, unmedicated birth, so that I could labor in positions other than just laying on my back. In terms of mental preparation, I worked on some mindfulness and meditation exercises, and I found it very helpful to watch YouTube videos of natural births. Whether they were in a hospital or home setting, I found that I could mentally prepare myself for how things may look, sound, and feel when I was in labor by watching videos, since I never really felt any contractions during my first birth. It is astonishing how much of a mystery natural birth is in our modern culture, and I think that if we had more exposure to how beautiful natural birth can be, it wouldn’t be such a scary thought for pregnant women! Finally, one of the most important things that I did was work on letting go of the guilt that I felt over my first c-section.
    I was beyond thrilled when woke up at 39 weeks and 5 days, which was a Saturday, and felt contractions. They were coming every 5-10 minutes for most of the day on Saturday but were very manageable, so I took two very long, hilly walks that day. I was in touch with Odile throughout the day, who provided me with support and guidance on how to manage the contractions and get into optimal positions. They started to fizzle out in the afternoon, and I was pretty disappointed. But I ate a huge and very spicy burrito for dinner that night, and before I knew it, things started to pick up again. My plan was to labor at home as long as possible, because the sooner I went to the hospital, the greater chance there would be for medical interventions to occur. Although I had been laboring all day, I knew I was not even close. Odile kept reminding me to let her know when there was a BIG change in my labor, and things really hadn’t changed much at all. So I went to bed that night but did not get much sleep as I continued to labor! We decided to drive up to the hospital first thing on Sunday morning just to get checked and see how much progress I had made – around 7:30 a.m., my midwive confirmed I was 3 cm and 100% effaced. Then the best gift she could have given me was her advice to go home, take a Benadryl to try to rest, and come back once things started getting really intense, so I did just that. I also reached out to my chiropractor to see if she was available to do an adjustment, which she was able to do around 3:00 p.m. So I rested and labored at home for most of the day, then got a great adjustment from the chiropractor and boom – things changed VERY quickly after that point! A few hours later, I realized that things were finally starting to change and the intensity was increasing, so we decided to go back to the hospital. Around 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, about 36 hours after my labor started, my midwife told me that I was 7 cm with a bulging bag and that it was time to have a baby! Over the next 3 hours, I labored most of the time either on my hands and knees on the hospital bed, or leaning forward over the bed. Odile and my husband took turns applying pressure to my lower back and hips as I went through transition. They reminded me why I had worked so hard for this when I started to doubt myself and asked for an epidural, and they encouraged me by telling me how far I had already come. They were the support that I needed to keep going and I couldn’t have continued without them! I am convinced that everything progressed as quickly as it did because I was upright and mobile, rather than flat on my back with an epidural. Eventually, a big contraction caused my water to break and it wasn’t long until I started to feel “pushy.” The midwife confirmed that I was fully dilated, and I did not hold back! I pushed for about 25 minutes in a kneeling position with my arms draped over the back of the hospital bed, and never once was concerned about a uterine rupture or any of the other scary things that people warn you about VBACs. I was solely focused on finally getting to birth my baby vaginally. A little after 10:00 p.m. the night before My due date, he was born and he was absolutely perfect! I absolutely, 100% felt the “high” that mothers talk about right after a natural, unmedicated delivery, which couldn’t have been more different than my experience after my c-section. I was able to immediately get up and out of bed and WALK around with my baby in my arms – I didn’t walk for more than a day after my c-section! It was an unbelievable experience, and the recovery was like night and day compared to my first birth.
    I never would have been so motivated to have a natural, unmedicated birth if I wasn’t attempting a VBAC. Looking back, I am now truly grateful that I delivered my first daughter via c-section, because I don’t think I would have worked so hard to educate myself on birth if I hadn’t had that experience.

    A VBAC story
  • I don’t know that I can put into words how amazing Odile is, but I will try. Odile is a professional, skilled, and empathetic doula who truly loves what she does. Throughout my pregnancy, she was there to calm my anxieties and fears, answer my endless questions, and problem solve through not so fun pregnancy symptoms. My husband expressed multiple times how glad he was that I had her to reach out to when he didn’t know how to help me. Odile was always at the ready through my multiple false alarms and actually beat us to the hospital when it was the real deal. My labor was intense and didn’t go exactly as planned (what labor does?). I am convinced that having Odile present decreased the risk of my needing additional medical interventions. Odile was there to explain and support every detail and decision along the way. She was there through every contraction which allowed my husband to be my emotional support and took some of the responsibility from him so that he could also enjoy the birth process. My OB has repeated multiple times that Odile is the best doula she has ever worked with. Odile also has followed up with me after the birth, both in person and via phone to provide support and answer any questions I had. I feel truly blessed to have met this woman and cannot imagine going through another pregnancy/birth without her.

  • “First of all, if you are considering whether to use a doula: our advice is absolutely hire a doula. Second, if you are looking for a doula, we STRONGLY recommend Odile Penet. Odile is an amazing doula and we cannot imagine having done the birth without her. She brings experience, sensitivity to your needs, and she is literally tireless at supporting you. In our case, we had a picture perfect pregnancy and everything was going smoothly, until… When we got to the earliest contractions (unbeknownst to us and our providers) my wife shifted into an atypical labor pattern. We were trying to manage the situation at home, and we were struggling. We read a LOT of books and were very prepared, but it never goes exactly like the books say. Luckily, we had also hired Odile. When I called her worried, she talked to me for a few minutes and then said, “I’m coming over.” When she arrived, everything was a mess. We weren’t managing the contractions well and my wife was exhausted, sick, and starting to feel a lot of pain. Odile brought a combination of knowledge, calm, and confidence to the situation, and of course, she helped us manage the contractions. She transformed a downward spiral into a managed situation. She helped us both mentally and helped my wife with the physical pain. She worked with us at home on the contractions from 11pm until 7am — without a break. In fact, at one point she let me take a nap and helped my wife solo for 2 hours. She gave us critical advice which led to us making key decisions. She went with us to the hospital. She was with us in the hospital until 1am (our baby was born at midnight). Yes, she pulled a 26-hour shift. It was astounding. The whole time in the hospital she was providing really important “hands on” physical help to prepare for and work through the contractions, plus emotional support. It was like my wife had a second husband there, except Odile actually knew what she was doing. Trust me: you will be very glad you hired Odile.”

  • My wife had a rough labor for our first child so when a friend recommended we try a doula when our second baby was coming, I welcomed the idea. What a difference it made with the birth of our second son! Odile was a calming presence and so full of good advice and wisdom. She was able to help Grace with different techniques and positions throughout the labor process to help her be more comfortable and I could help support and encourage Grace along the way without the stress of having to “know” everything. I had gone to birthing classes with my wife, but it’s just different when labor is ACTUALLY HAPPENING. She helped us feel comfortable making decisions during a time when plans can change rapidly! Odile was so experienced and able to guide us through. She was so nice to work with and we highly recommend her!

  • My wife and I used Odile as our Doula for the birth of both of our daughters and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She helped tremendously for both myself and my wife. She was constantly calming and assuring me throughout the process that everything going on was normal and there was nothing to worry about. She also helped coach me on how to help my wife throughout the birth process and in taking our newborn home. Our first daughter was taken to the NICU as soon as she was born. I can honestly say that without Odile by our side, it would have been much harder to cope with the additional stress of the NICU. Her number 1 priority throughout the whole process was our care and comfort. I would not have one bit of hesitation to recommend Odile to anybody looking for excellent Doula services.


    December 17 at 1:45am I woke up feeling contractions that were fairly strong and coming every 5 minutes exactly.  I decided to wait it out and see if they continued.  At about 3:30am they were still coming every 5 minutes so I woke Patrick up and told him, “I think I’m in labor”.  He woke up and fell back asleep for the next thirty minutes.  By 4am I told him this was definitely happening today so he started texting employees and business partners to work out all of his responsibilities for that day.  (and there were quite a few.  He had a few photo booth events and class to teach at Grounded).  I also decided to text my doula, Odile Penet, who told me no matter the time, if I thought I was in labor to contact her.  She told me to keep her posted and asked how I was feeling.  I told her I was feeling it almost all in my back (ahhh back labor).  About 6am (I think) I talked with her on the phone.  She told me even though she was sure I was early in my labor if I wanted her to come and help me with positions to get Stella away from my back she would come on over.  I told her to wait for now but that I’d call her back.  I continued to labor on my own breathing through my contractions and trying to rest in the bed in between.  Around 8am (again I think!) I had called my mom and sister.  I spoke to my mom, who sadly was in Boston so wouldn’t be able to come.  I had a few contractions while talking with her and was breathing quite loudly through them.  She told me to call my doula back and have her come over.  So I did.  She had a bit of a drive but said she was on her way.  I also spoke to my sister, Candice on the phone.  At this point I was pacing around my house, stopping wherever I was, grabbing walls and the side of countertops when a contraction would hit.   Still at this point breathing through them.  Every once in awhile a moan would get away from me but I tried to remain silent during them.  My boys and Patrick were in the house playing and just hanging out during the morning hours.  Around 10:30 my doula arrived.  She immediately started a few techniques to move Stella away from my back.  She would do these things when I was not having a contraction.  Once a contraction hit she would use a tennis ball to apply counter pressure to my back.  This was very helpful although the pain was extremely intense and growing.  I also started to listen to my hypnobabies track to help with relaxation.  I was able to relax in between the contractions.  But then they started getting harder to breath through.  They were taking my breath away and I was beginning to moan and scream during them.  Odile was able to give me strength during this time as she talked me through them.  She would tell me, “you just have to get through this one.  just get through this one.  its almost over.  the worst part is over.  its going down now.”  These small phrases really put things back into perspective knowing that soon it would be over.  She knew exactly what to say to help motivate me and to stay in that exact moment.  She told me it might help to take a shower so I did.  While I was in the shower I began to rhythmically moan and sway from side to side.  Odile said this was progress and told Patrick he should call his mom to come get the boys.  I was in the shower for maybe 15 minutes or so.  When I got out things just seem to be taking over.  I was moaning and moving with each contraction and was barely out of the shower, just had a robe on and underwear and I rushed to the back to the bathroom and threw up.  Odile told me not to be scared that this was normal and showing more progression and that she thought things were happening fast now.  She told Patrick that we would probably be leaving soon to go to the hospital.  Literally right after that I yelled “I have to go to the bathroom!!” and ran and sat on the toilet.  Odile yelled at Patrick “Get the car!! The boys are coming with us.  We have to leave NOW!!”  Apparently I was transitioning and doing it fast.  Patrick rushed around the house like crazy grabbing my hospital bag that was not packed all the way (we thought we’d have so much time!).  I had on shoes, pants and a robe and thats it (in December).  At this point Odile coached me how to lamaze breath through the contractions since I wasn’t able to breath slowly through them at this point.  Patrick was getting bags while I was in the car and then boys were in the back seat.  Odile was coaching me standing by the passenger side car.  The boys asked, “whats wrong with mommy?”  Odile told them everything was fine and that this was all normal.  She was able to calm them and reassure them.  Patrick came out and we started to pull out with Odile following behind us in her car.  She honked on her horn as we were pulling out (apparently our trunk was wide open!)..  Finally we were off.  This was probably about 12:30pm.  I continued having contractions in the car.  Really not sure how far apart they were but they were close.  I screamed and lamaze breathed during them.  There was such a calm in between the contractions where I felt completely normal and then they would start up.  We pulled up to the ER and Odile got me in a wheel chair and wheeled me in.  She yelled that I was in advanced labor, I was a VBAC and needed to go in NOW.  They got me in triage and started asking a billion questions.  Did I feel pain was one of them……I said or screamed “I feel a baby coming out!!!!”  At this point Odile was with the boys and Patrick was being asked other questions at checkin.  They checked me and the nurse said, “she’s 9 1/2 centimeters.”  And then the rush began, they RAN me down the hallway of the hospital to Labor and Delivery.  I was crying and saying I was scared.   The nurse who was pushing the gurney was amazing.  She said, “Look at me!  Everything is going to be fine.  Your baby is coming now.”  Once in the delivery room Patrick was finally by my side.  My doctor didn’t even have notice to come so another doctor was in the room along with 3 nurses.  They started telling me to lay back and I was saying no no.  So I started pushing on my left side holding onto the side of the bed.  I heard the doctor say something to Patrick about an episiotomy and I screamed “DON”T CUT ME!!!!”  He said “I won’t, I won’t.  Look at my hands.  I have nothing in my hands.  Don’t worry.”  Apparently he was just explaining what could potentially happen.  The nurses told me when I felt a contraction to push.  I did it and pushed as hard as I could.  They told me one more and I would see my baby.  I did again and they told me she was there!  I thought, they are lying!!!  I’m going to be here all day.  But the next contraction came and I pushed with everything I had and she came out!  She was born at 1:35pm; about 20 minutes after we had arrived at the hospital.  They put her on my chest and she was perfect.  I said, her skin is perfect!  She was amazing.  I immediately felt back to normal.  No pain, no contractions.  The afterbirth was nothing, barley noticed it in comparison.  I did tear a little so had to have stitches which wasn’t fun but I was nursing Stella the whole time.  After I was fixed up, Gayle (my mother-in-law) had arrived and came in with the boys.  Odile came in too.  The boys got to meet their sister within minutes of her birth.  She nursed for 30 minutes nonstop after she was born.  My entire labor from first contraction until she was in my arms was 11 hr and 55 min.  My doula said I went from early labor to transition, skipping active labor altogether.  Stella was born pushing through only 5 contractions.  It was the most empowering, surreal, amazing experience of my entire 32 years.  I have never felt a mind to body connection like it.  Feeling and experiencing her being born was indescribable to say the least.  The power of the mind and the woman’s body is unbelievable and is infinite.

    Odile was simply amazing.  I am certain that my experience would have been extremely different had she not been there with her reassuring demeanor, her plethora of knowledge, her kind words of encouragement and her wonderfully warm energy.  Words could never describe my gratitude.

  • My husband and I are Odile’s biggest fans ever since she saved us from having an unintentional home birth! I had a very unusual first labor which started out slowly but then progressed through the last stages very quickly. Fortunately, Odile was already at our home when the noise I was making with each contraction suddenly changed. Odile immediately knew something unusual was happening and told my husband to call the midwives and that he would likely need to call 911.  She helped me change position and pant through the urge to push while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. She stayed very calm and even thought to suggest that my husband lock the cats away so that they wouldn’t run outside when the door was propped open by the paramedics. Without Odile, I don’t think we would have made it to the hospital in time! It was also wonderful to have another familiar face in the delivery room, since we ended up at a different hospital than we had planned. I can only imagine how terrified my husband would have been if she hadn’t been there—Odile made the experience much easier for both of us, though in different ways than we could have imagined!

  • Odile supported me in my birth in exactly the way I needed. Things went differently than I expected, but she was able to adapt to my changing needs beautifully. I had a wonderful birth experience, in large part because of Odile, and I couldn’t recommend her more. She’s a fabulous doula.

  • Odile was an incredible source of support and encouragement during my pregnancy, especially during labor and delivery. She is a great listener and every question or concern I had was greeted with care and compassion. She never pushed her own opinions or judgements about my pregnancy and the decisions I had to make. She offered advice when I asked and just listened when I needed her to. I wanted a doula that was objective and 100% on my side during labor and delivery and she was. I delivered naturally because she was a great coach and I trusted her completely. Odile is gentle and open-minded. She is also very knowledgeable about pregnancy and babies and turned out to be a great resource for other services, such as chiropractors and acupuncture. I almost want to have another baby so she can be there again. She truly cared about me and my family and for that I am so happy I chose Odile to help me deliver my baby.

  • I knew I wanted a doula at my child’s birth, even though I had a midwife (they perform separate services – midwife delivers the baby and does medical things; doula supports the mom). When I spoke with Odile I felt immediately comfortable with her and her birth philosophy – essentially, you never know until you get to the birth what you will feel like or what you will need, at which point parents and support people should be open to different options. She was supportive of the things my husband and I wanted (minimal medical intervention if possible, but the potential for epidural or other medical comfort measures if necessary). She was supportive and reassuring in the weeks as we prepared for the birth, checking in with emails every so often and offering to talk by phone or in person if I wanted to. After the birth she kept in contact and came by for a visit to help with breastfeeding and check on my recovery. The day of my son’s birth my husband and I were already at the hospital when I knew I was in labor (we had a previously scheduled appointment). Odile came right down when we called, arriving at 1 pm and staying right by my side until after the birth and all the procedures after (about 6 pm – yes, it was a fast labor. No epidural – there wasn’t time!). She was so supportive and helpful, encouraging me when I needed encouragement, suggesting different comfort measures, and offering my husband suggestions for what he could do to help me. She was especially supportive while I was being stiched up afteward, which was more painful and took longer than I had expected. I think going through labor and delivery and the aftermath would have been much scarier and much more difficult without her. I felt like she truly cared about me, my husband, and my baby. I would highly recommend Odile to anyone looking for caring support through the final stages of pregnancy, labor, delivery and post partum.

  • We loved working with Odile! She was an invaluable support to both my husband and I during my labor, making sure we were working as a team and always offering guidance and encouragement. We would recommend her as a birth doula to anyone.

  • Odile was absolutely amazing and we highly, highly recommend her!

    My husband and I decided to use a doula since both of our families are several states away and because this was our first child so we really wanted someone there who knew what they were doing! It was important to us that our doula be kind, encouraging, supportive and understanding to both my husband and I. We didn’t want it to be just about me. Odile absolutely provided this – from the first meeting it was clear that she would be an awesome support for the whole family.

    Ultimately we had a somewhat complicated birth and I know that we wouldn’t have made it through with smiles on our faces had it not been for Odile. Throughout Odile was a calming, confident presence. The doctor, nurses and my husband were all reassuring but I knew the medical staff had a vested interest in telling me everything was ok and my husband, bless his heart, had no idea if things were really ok or not! So I kept turning to Odile for the reassurance and information I needed.

    When our daughter was finally born it was clear that Odile was as overjoyed as my husband and I. It sounds weird but Odile really ended up feeling like family! We would be more than happy to provide greater detail on our experience with Odile if it would be helpful. She’s amazing and we’re so, so grateful to have had her be a part of our daughter’s arrival.

  • Odile is wonderful!! She was a huge support to my family, and me, and helped me to have the birth that I wanted. I would not have been able to have a natural childbirth with out Odile assisting me through the process. She assisted me both physically and mentally. She would massage my back, help me to get into more comfortable positions, and had me lean her during my contractions. Additionally, she provided constant encouragement and helped me to maintain my breathing. I had my birth at a hospital and she worked well with the hospital staff and OB and helped me to voice my desires to them. I hope to have Odile with me at the birth of my second child.

  • We hired Odlie to help us with our second son. Odile came when we got home from the hospital and worked 3-5 nights for us weekly until our son was about 4 months old. Having Odile’s support at nighttime was so important to my recovery (cesarean) and to the overall well being of my entire family (husband and 4-year-old son.) She would bring me my son to nurse through the night. It was fantastic! Odile has a ton of very useful wisdom about breastfeeding, schedules and sleep routines. She also listened and empathized at some very emotionally trying and challenging times. I would hire her again and again. My son is sleeping through the night now but I still miss Odile and her wonderfully nurturing and caring presence in my home. Odile is like a great mix of Mom, sister, best friend, nurse, healer and psychologist! We love her!

  • We were extremely lucky to have Odile with us for the birth of our son. We were well prepared after attending a Bradley Class, but we found that Odile’s support was necessary to apply the skills we had acquired. We would never have been able to have a fully natural birth without her ideas, experience and encouragements. We will always be thankful for her dedication and friendliness through the tough experience of a particularly long labor…


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Heidi Daniels

Doula Odile during childbirth

Baltimore, MD, Surrounding Counties, Annapolis, MD, Washington D.C., York, PA

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Phone: 443-739-0113