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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Childbirth—the Wondrous Process of Bringing Life into the World

Apr 29, 2015 08:47AM ● By Yvette Lyn

Cheryl Bernardi (right)

From inception to delivery, the wondrous process of bringing life into the world hasn’t changed since the first woman gave birth. While babies continue to be born the same way as they have for generations, the nine-month journey for parents now presents many more important decision-making opportunities such as how to approach birth—by natural, anesthetic-assisted or surgical means.

The Plethora of Options

Prenatal options such as birth plans, childbirth and breathing classes can make the birthing experience less unfamiliar. Prenatal exercises such as dancing for birth and learning how to use birth balls keep muscles toned throughout pregnancy and provide pain management benefits in the early and active stages of labor, as well as birth. Soothing prenatal massage and yoga classes, guided visualization techniques and specially created soundtracks for the delivery also prove helpful. Self-hypnosis, which uses focused attention and relaxation, develops a woman’s natural physiological ability to birth through confidence, understanding and control.  

Other things to contemplate are: does mom want a doula, also known as a birth companion and birth supporter, to assist before, during and/or after childbirth? Who will deliver the new babe—an obstetrician, nurse-midwife (Lee County) or licensed midwife (Collier County). Should birth be at home, in a hospital or a birthing center?  With so much to learn and consider, the precious nine-month countdown passes quickly.

In Collier and Lee County, skilled and proficient professionals with years of experience in these areas can help with these decisions. Doula Cheryl Bernardi, yoga teacher, doula, and resident massage therapist at the Family Birth Center, in Naples, offers 16 years of experience and a variety of services for pregnant women.

The Doula

Bernardi asserts that the birth of a child is one of the most important events in a woman’s life. Her mission is to help women prepare and be at ease with the process. “My prenatal yoga as well as Movement and Breath for Labor workshops acquaint women with positions that can help to increase dilation and aid the baby’s descent through the birth canal. The breath and self-hypnosis, as well as guided meditation can help with pain management. The practical birth rehearsals allow dads to practice their supporting role,” says Bernardi, who appreciates positive feedback from experienced moms who note that pre-birth training made their second delivery easier.

Family Birth Center of Naples

The birthing center’s private suites feel as comfortable as a lovely, decorated bedroom with a bath. One additional asset is the big Jacuzzi bathtub where a woman can ease her laboring hours or give birth. The mother-to-be has the freedom to walk around, use a birthing ball or even make a cup of tea or a snack in the full kitchen. Children have a place to watch TV while mom is busy giving birth. Although the center’s approach to birthing is more relaxed, everyone is fully prepared for any medical emergency. “This is where women who anticipate a normal pregnancy without complications can have their delivery by a highly trained and experienced Licensed Midwife, Dawn Meir, who is also the center’s owner and director, ” explains Bernardi.

Doula Paula Terry has nearly six years of experience and attends women at the birthing center. She trained with Ina May Gaskin, a midwife with international notoriety for her life’s work of teaching and advocating safe, woman-centered childbirth methods that best promote the physical and mental health of mother and child. Terry, who teaches her clients to see their child’s birth through the eyes of their heart, brings a sense of order, peacefulness and calm to labor and delivery. “I like to support my families on every level,” says Terry, who recently attended Noel and James Michalski at the birth of their second daughter, Emma Marie. “Having such a loving, feminine presence with me to offer encouragement, love and support was so wonderful and very different than my first birth at a hospital,” says Noel.

Pregnancy Exercises in Naples FloridaFamily Birth Suites in Fort Myers and Cape Coral

Lee Memorial Health System’s HealthPark Medical Center and Cape Coral Hospital Family Birth Suites not only have a Jacuzzi tub for hydrotherapy during labor and after birthing, but also the option of two certified nurse-midwives to deliver babies with the guidance of an obstetrician. Many birth practices here, such as playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when a baby is born, are unique to these hospitals. “Other examples are our high-tech fetal monitoring system that allows women to be up and walking during labor. Other significant practices are that healthy mothers and babies are not separated after birth. We feel that skin-to-skin contact for a healthy mother and baby after birth, as well as in the operating room immediately following a gentle Cesarean, is essential. Delayed bathing of the baby means even more skin-to-skin bonding time. Also, all of our registered nurses on staff are certified breastfeeding counselors,” says Nancy Travis, RN, nursing director of Labor & Delivery and Women’s Care.

Amy Buteau, an experienced childbirth assistant, lactation educator and labor doula attends women at the birth suites. The veteran of numerous births generally hears from potential clients early in their pregnancy. “It’s best to establish a rapport with a doula beforehand,” says Buteau. When there is sufficient time, she helps parents prepare birth plans. “They can express their wishes regarding a variety of things, from whether or not there should be any anesthesia or a Cesarean section if there is an emergency to the name of the doula, as well as names of friends and family members allowed to be present during labor and delivery,” explains Buteau, who notes that no matter how many births she has attended, every one feels like a “first”. Terry agrees, “A birth is something that infuses a room with love and life.”


Amy Buteau, 239-565-1871, [email protected]

Cheryl Bernardi, 239-248-7931, [email protected],

Family Birth Center of Naples, 2930 Immokalee Rd., Ste. 2, Naples; 239-594-0400.

Paula Terry, 239-821-3088, [email protected]

Family Birth Suites, Lee Memorial HealthPark and Cape Coral Hospital; 239-424-2217; email [email protected].

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