GRETCHEN RETKA

birth + placenta encapsulation

“Birth is the original ceremony. I feel called to support that passage & honor its teachings.”

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"The first time I ever prepared a placenta and gave it to a mom, I saw her go from weak and exhausted to bright-eyed and vibrant after consuming. This is why I choose to encapsulate---for the results that moms experience!"

-GRETCHEN

Gretchen grew up near the Great Lakes in Minnesota. Being raised in a rural community meant large families and a lot of opportunities to help care for children from a young age, as well as being an auntie.

She was drawn to birth through her family heritage and various life experiences.  A certified doula trained through ToLabor organization, Gretchen weaves her years as a massage therapist, certified yoga instructor, and energy work practitioner (Reiki) into her support of laboring women.  When working with her clients the things of most importance to her are: reducing trauma, helping to minimize interventions, restoring people's faith in physiological birth, and actively empowering moms and partners in labor.  

 

Becoming a placenta encapsulator was inspired by the fact that nearly all mammals consume their placenta. She learned placenta encapsulation as a practice and art to nourish new moms. Gretchen follows OSHA standards for encapsulation and has safely encapsulated nearly 100 placentas.

A deep love for health, wellness, movement, and art, means that in her spare time you'll find Gretchen practicing yoga, dancing, hiking, swimming in nature, and playing her ukelele.

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“I feel very fortunate to have met Gretchen.  When we initially met there was no pandemic and we had planned to birth at the hospital with Gretchen. When the COVID pandemic began hospitals restricted additional support persons being present. In the end, we decided to change our birth plan to a home birth which ended up being the best decision we could have made. Gretchen was very supportive and encouraging as we researched alternative options and was willing to support us in any capacity available. I’m so thankful to have had a home birth experience and Gretchen was an essential member of our birth team. Gretchen provided wonderful prenatal support with recommended exercises and advice. During active labor, Gretchen gave me vital breath coaching and expertly helped guide me to positions and helpful movements during intense moments. I am so thankful she was there as we welcomed our baby boy. I feel fortunate for my birthing experience during this COVID pandemic as it was very empowering to me and was done from the comfort of our home. Gretchen came after the birth to check on us and brought her amazing lactation cookies. Gretchen is an experienced, supportive and resourceful doula, we really enjoyed having her be part of our birth experience.”     -Kendra (Santa Cruz)


"Gretchen was a valuable member of our team, and I’m very happy we were able to have her help. Through this very unusual time she has been flexible to changes in plans and supportive every step of the way. At the birth itself she was a calming presence with unwavering attention given to my wife and her labor, taking some of the pressure off of me to be the sole provider of that role and allowing me to be occasionally distracted by other things, like our other children. She has only ever shown us kindness and respect at every interaction and it was a joy to have her as our doula."    -Jason (Santa Cruz)

"I strongly believe I had the best labor  experience because Gretchen was my doula. From the time we started working with her during my pregnancy she was the most helpful resource we had. My husband and I met with her (virtually during COVID-19) to go over educational websites and videos she sent us. As we got closer to the due date she helped us work through labor positions and taught my husband how to best support me physically and emotionally. When I started early labor at home we called her and she come to our house to support us. She helped with breathing techniques and physical support to my hips and back during contractions. She recommended different positions to make me as comfortable as possible and she stayed with us until it was time to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 she was not allowed to come to the hospital with us. When we got to the hospital I was 6cm dilated and ready to be admitted to the delivery room. I don't think I would have had to confidence to labor at home as long as I did if we didn't have Gretchen coaching us. While I was in labor at the hospital my husband was in contact with Gretchen and she was still providing advise to us virtually. After I gave birth to our baby boy she checked in with us and brought me lactation cookies. She is still checking in with us frequently almost 3 weeks postpartum. Gretchen is a very kindhearted and knowledgeable doula who I would highly recommend! If we have another baby I will for sure have Gretchen as my doula again." 

-Danielle C.  (Santa Cruz)

 

"Gretchen was AMAZING!! It felt like she became part of our family. This was my third pregnancy and I really wanted a non medicated birth. I knew my best chances at that was to hire a doula and Gretchen was everything and more!! From the first meeting till our last we enjoyed her so much! She was such an advocate for us at the hospital and extremely knowledgeable! We miss seeing her. ?? Best investment ever!! :    -Amanda M, (San Jose)

Gretchen is warm, encouraging and strong in mind, body, and spirit. We can't thank Gretchen enough for her doula services. After the initial phone call to get things going, she gave us work to do and helped us write a detailed birthplan to think through what we really wanted: better position for baby, labor support, birth plan advocate at hospital. For the birth plan, she patiently translated all the hospital procedures to help us make better decisions for our plan. During labor, she encouraged me to keep moving thru our exercises to turn the baby even when I wanted to curl into a ball and forget everything we practiced. If it weren't for Gretchen, I'm 100% certain I'd be laying on my back in the hospital way before it was necessary. Because of her, we got to labor at home and went straight to hospital for a couple minutes of pushing. While my husband and I were enamored by new baby, Gretchen stayed focused, talking to hospital staff, helped me with latching. She visited us a couple more times at home to help us settle in and dropped off amazing lactation cookies that I loved eating everyday. Thanks, Gretchen, for having faith in me when I lost hope.      -Jade (San Jose)